On Flying Geese and Right Timing

 On Flying Geese and Right TimingI’m trying to squeeze out the last seconds of these glorious late summer days, down at my beach, toes in the sand in between appointments.  I pull my chair up to the edge of the water and sit watching the waves, allowing myself to be soothed by the whooshing of the waves breaking just feet in front of me, each one completely different from the rest, each changing the beach in its own way.  Just like us in our lives, I think.  Each one unique, each with our own timing and impact.

It feels like summer still, except the sky is that deeper blue of approaching fall (not like that light blue of spring) and the sun is lower in the sky now, making for harsher light as the day goes by.  This time of year always feels so bittersweet to me.

I was deep in my reverie when I saw them – high up above me, waves and waves of geese in classic chevron formation, flying south.    I was happy to actually see some geese migrating, since so many over-winter now in corn fields and golf courses, a testament to the milder winters of recent years.   It’s good to know that some still hold that ancient ancestral migration memory.

Then I noticed flocks of hundreds of small black birds, swirling in the sky like schools of fish, dipping and spinning, hovering, exploding to the left and then to the right.  Unlike with the geese, where there is a clear leader at the tip of that V, this swarm of smaller birds seemed to have no director and no plan…and yet they were choreographed with great precision.   I couldn’t imagine how they could fly so many maneuvers so closely and not collide.  Maybe they do (sometimes monkeys do fall out of trees into the mouths of hungry lions), but not that day.  It was breathtaking to watch.

I also see the orange monarch butterflies passing through these days, on their way to land in that one special tree in Mexico.  My in-laws told me yesterday that although as a rule these butterflies live for only two weeks, the generation born for the migration is different…they live for 4 months, enough time to get their little selves to that Mexican tree to fulfill their destiny to continue their species.   I can only imagine the adventure of this Great Migration for these guys.  Talk about The Fool’s Journey…

Nature provides so many lessons about cycles and right timing.  She always provides redundancy, always offers a Plan B and C.  (eg, some of her geese skip the migration altogether and choose to hang out in wintery fields up North.)  And so it is with us.

This is a new school year.  A fresh clean slate.  Everyday a new day, a new chance to try it again and get it right.  So don’t hold your child’s past record against them.  Everybody gets to change.  That’s part of the package deal of being human.  Encourage your child to try a new thing or two without high stakes.  Let them stumble, fall and then get back up again like they did when they were learning to walk.  No big deal if they get a B or a C in a quiz or a paper.  Stand back and let them catch the lesson that practice makes permanent. This is how to raise a resilient kid.  Let it all be OK.  College will take care of itself.

Less Stress, More Success

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New York Times
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Our book group just read your book and it sparked more conversation than we’ve had in the seven years we’ve been reading together. Being successful professionals with busy lives and even busier children, we’re all trying to figure out how to find the time to just stop and enjoy our lives amidst so much pressure. Some of us find ourselves quoting you to our husbands and kids now, so you are our hero. ;-)
Sophia N. and Nancy R.

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