One of the most fascinating excursions we took when Richard and I visited our son Lachlan in Morocco, was the road trip to the coastal town of Essaouira. A common site along the road to this beautiful seaside town was that of goats climbing the argan trees.
Yes, that’s right! There were goats climbing trees!
Food is scarce in this area, but goats love the fruits that grow on the argan trees and so frequently climb up into their leafy branches to enjoy the tree’s tasty treats. You may recognise the name of the argan tree from some of the skin and hair products you have on your bathroom shelf.
When we first saw the goats in the trees, we wondered how on earth they got there. Surely someone must have put them there! Goats can’t climb trees. But it seems that they can and do climb trees all the time – and not just argan trees.
According to blogger Michael Graham Richard, over the centuries goats have “evolved for difficult climbs and precarious jumps and have an innate sense of balance” that enable them to climb trees and mountains. This was something they needed to do to avoid predators. As he notes, “They are helped by their hoofs, which have two toes that can spread out to create more secure footings and two vestigial toes higher up their legs, called dewclaws, that can be used as leverage to climb up mountain side or tree branch.”
So it wasn’t a hoax! The goats get up into the trees all by themselves!
But what if they had been placed there by human hands? Would that have been so bad? Not at all. We still would have enjoyed watching them in the trees. It’s okay to ask for help to get to where we need to go. We have all received assistance along life’s path to help us get to where we needed to be. Parents, teachers, coaches, bosses, colleagues and other mentors have all been important to our daily climb. Let’s give thanks for all those who have helped us climb the ladder of life.
And let’s do something more. As Boomers, you and I are uniquely placed to help those coming alongside or after us. The late Daniel Levinson said that those of us who find ourselves in the second half of life have a special calling to encourage those in whom we see gifts and talents. This is part of our vocation and one of the ways we can make a positive difference in our communities.
There will always be a few who – like the goats we saw in Morocco – will be able to get there all by themselves. But most of us need a helping hand. Think about whom you can help and how you can support them in fulfilling their dreams and life goals.
By the way, if you live in British Columbia, check out this upcoming workshop which former United Church Moderator Mardi Tindal is helping to lead: