I kept coming back to this image, trying to break open what it might be saying.

I kept coming back to this image, trying to break open what it might be saying.

When I saw this goose couple that Martin snapped at a park in Virginia, I laughed out loud and wished I spoke goose, the better to understand what they might have been honking at one another. Sometimes Martin’s photos speak to me immediately (though not in goose). A lesson or meditation to accompany the image arrives swiftly.  This couple, however had me stymied.

What was the deeper wisdom waiting to be drawn from this shot?

I love the contrast in their goose necks and their postures because it looks like they are having one serious conversation. But while reaching for an accompanying text, I didn’t want to attribute rigidity to Mr. Goose on the right, nor submission to Ms. Goose on the left. See? Already I’m attributing rigidity and aggression to the gander and submission to the goose. I wanted to anthropomorphize this pair and their exchange, but did not want to make one the winner of the conversation and one the loser.     I returned to the image again and again, always coming up with um, a goose egg.

Then it hit me.  Both postures are ambiguous and open to interpretation. Is the goose on the left being submissive or flexible? What about the goose on the right? How many times is perceived rigidity more truthfully  maintaining one’s principles in the face of silliness or societal pressure. And just like that, the puzzle of what to say about this image cracked open.

We can be quick to judge when a “discussion” we are having isn’t going our way. We  might summon labels – rigid, unfeeling, wishy-washy, spineless – in hopes that such critical words will goad our partner into changing his or her position. This month’s His Lens/My Pen image is a reminder to keep the labeling at bay. To my eye, Ms. Goose and Mr. Gander are telling us to move past reflexive judgment, and strive to see a situation from a perspective other than our own.

Enjoy the geese in a larger format by clicking on the image.

Is there a teen in the house who mistakes your principles for rigidity? Or someone who needs reminding that being flexible on an important issue doesn’t mean caving? Order this card from my Etsy shop. The world can always use a little more understanding.