Monday, 7 January 2013

The twelfth gosling

A wisdom story...

It was springtime and a young mother goose had just laid a clutch of twelve very handsome eggs. She and the father goose looked at their eggs admiringly - wondering what future their little goslings would have. They imagined teaching them to fly, helping them to find food, and - when the cold weather came - leading them in the migration to warmer climes.

The goose parents took turns sitting on the eggs to keep them warm. As they waited, they thought about the future of their goslings - wondering how many would be female and how many male - thinking of the day that they would themselves learn to fly and maybe even have goslings of their own.

Day in and day out they carefully tended the eggs. A week passed, and then another, and another. And then one day, after nearly five long weeks, as the father sat on the eggs he heard a faint pecking sound. And then another from another egg. As he moved to look, he saw tiny beaks appearing from two of the eggs.

The process of hatching was not easy. It was arduous work for the babies and they needed to rest often between bouts of pecking. After three days, though, eleven of the goslings were finally out of their shells.

But the twelfth egg was a bit odd. The gosling in that egg had pecked a hole large enough to get out of, stuck his head out, and then return to the shell! The goslings were all peeping in hunger, so father goose went to get food. When he returned, he and mother fed their little goslings - eleven of them standing on their feet and the twelfth still in his shell.

The goose parents began to be a bit concerned about number 12. They pecked the shell a bit. They tried to lure him out with food. But number 12 was set on staying put.

Weeks passed and the goslings all began to grow rapidly. Number 12 finally got so large that his shell could hold him no longer - as it burst, he joined his brothers and sisters walking around in the nest. And it was good timing too, because flying lessons were just beginning!

Mother and father goose showed their goslings how to flap their little wings and they took to it eagerly - practicing their flapping for minutes at a time, resting, and then flapping some more.

All except number 12, that is. Number 12 showed no interest in flapping or in flying.

At last, eleven goslings were ready and they took flight. It was an exhilarating experience for all of them and they returned excited and happy. Number 12 seemed unmoved. He instead took a walk to find some tasty grubs to eat and he thought to himself "that flying looks way too dangerous." I'm just fine staying here on the ground where it's safe.

As time passed, eleven goslings flew more and more and were eventually ready to leave the nest. Number 12 remained with his mother and father. They were happy to have him, but they worried about his future and what might become of him - a goose who would not fly.

And then, the days began to become shorter and colder. Mother and father goose prepared themselves for the long flight south. What would happen with number 12?

Mother and father took off and waved their wings good-by to number 12. Moments later, they heard an anguished squawking from the vicinity of the nest!

They turned back to see a hungry looking fox just inches away from number 12. They swooped down just in time, and as mother goose distracted the fox, father goose lifted number 12 into the air and carried him off. As soon as 12 was safe, mother flew to join father and 12.

What to do now? 12 was simply too heavy to carry all the way on the migration journey, but if his parents left him behind, he would surely perish.

They took turns carrying him - using all of their strength. But it was no use. Exhausted, father goose finally lost his grip and number 12 tumbled from the sky.

The parents were distraught. They had lost their dear gosling. They began to weep and other geese in the flock came to comfort them.

And then suddenly, there was a surprising sound. Honk, honk! - they heard behind them. And there they saw number 12 flying along happily to catch up with them. He seemed perfectly joyful. The parents were shocked but delighted

And as number 12 flew along he thought to himself "I nearly lost my life by trying to be too safe - I will never make that mistake again!"

Number 12 went on to have a happy and adventurous life and became a father many times over before he passed away, content, at a ripe old age.

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