A Goose in the Right Direction


Bill was my friend. We had grown up and gone to school together, but had not spent much time in one another's company for some years. Friends may drift apart, but a childhood friendship is nearly impossible to dissolve. There have been too many shared experiences-too many embarrassments in common. I ran into Bill one day at a local café and he told me a story. He told me a tale of how a nasty divorce, drink and the loss of most of his farm had left his life in ruins. One afternoon he found himself standing on a bridge overpass looking down onto a busy interstate highway. Bill told me that he had been drinking heavily and as he drank from a bottle of whiskey, he contemplated jumping off the bridge into the midst of the endless traffic below him.

"It didn't seem like I had much to offer the world," Bill said. "I had lost all that I loved-my wife, my children, my farm, my self-respect. I hated my life. Nothing was fun anymore. I had sunk about as low as a man could possibly sink. I felt I'd be doing the world a favor by ridding it of me. I actually climbed up onto the bridge railing, prepared to end it all. I paused to drink the last of the whiskey remaining in the bottle. Alcohol had become such an important part of my life that I did not want to leave any of it behind. As I tipped the bottle up to drain the last bit, I spotted a Canada Goose, all by itself, flying towards me. Its head was turning from side-to-side, looking this way and then looking that way, as though it was searching for something. I had never paid much attention to geese before, but this one looked so lonely and pathetic, that I couldn't take my eyes off it.

Suddenly, I heard a great honking. I turned my head slightly and saw a large flock of geese. Their barking sounds were constant. It was as though they were calling out to the lone goose. I stood transfixed as I watched the goose join the flock and fall right into the V-formation. The goose looked like it belonged-like it had been in that spot forever. As each goose in the formation flapped its wings, it created an uplift for the birds that followed. By flying in a group in a V-formation, their efficiency was much greater than if each bird flew alone. I watched the flock fly away. I watched their flight until I could no longer see it. I climbed down from that bridge.

Suddenly it had all become so clear to me. I knew what I had to do. Just like that flock of geese, my friends, relatives and neighbors had been calling out to me. The flock of people offered me help for my problems and answers to my questions. They would be able to uplift me just as the flock of geese had done for the lone goose. I got off that bridge and drove my old rusty pickup home. I joined the flock immediately. I became a member of AA, my local church and a wonderful service group. I have found that happiness for me is other people. It took a goose to show me that. I have never been happier."

Al Batt, ©1999 SnoEowl@aol.com

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Al lives on a farm in Minnesota with his wife, Gail. Al is a writer, a newspaper columnist, a radio personality, a speaker and a storyteller.

Al Batt
RR1 Box 56A
Hartland, MN 56042

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