While navigating the confusing traffic circles down Cape Town’s iconic Adderley Street, I spotted two Egyptian geese patrolling around the fountain in the centre of the circle. As I waited at the traffic light, something else caught my eye: eight fluffy, week-old goslings scurrying around their parents.
In the middle of the city, surrounded by the chaotic movement of cars, taxis, buses, city noise, and exhaust fumes, these two geese were attempting to raise a family.
The picture stuck with me: two parents scrambling madly to guard their little flock; craning their necks to watch out for danger and using their wings to guard their little ones from falling off the pavement. Their chances of survival were probably limited, and yet, they had survived this far. I wondered what placed them there, at that time, and what choice they had in selecting their breeding spot.
It struck me that the picture was a metaphor for our lives. We too live in a world defined by turmoil and don’t always have the choices we wish we could have. We’re operating in dangerous and noisy environments. Just take a quick scroll through TikTok or Twitter to see how aggressive and cacophonous the digital world can be. We’re also facing daily danger in our physical world. And financial challenges are mounting.
Yet, we have the choice to carve out a life, and deliberately shield ourselves from the noise and danger. It starts with protecting our inner world, our thought life, from the outside forces that threaten its equanimity. It stretches to our conversations and consumption of media. It gets actioned in how we shield our physical resources - our physical energy, family life, and relationships. And it’s something we secure by how well we plan, and how effectively we protect our money from our consumer-driven culture.
The modern world is not configured for the flourishing of individuals or communities. We must, therefore, like those geese, create our own circle of protected space where we can survive. Amidst the chaos, noise, and threats, it is up to us to create and protect the space to flourish.