The Appreciative Goat


Mauna Kea from the air. Photo by Eric Anderson.

A few weeks ago, I revealed that I didn’t know that there were wild goat living on Hawai’i Island. So I went to learn a little more about them, and thus today’s story is about…

Wild goats living on Hawai’i Island.

It’s not an easy life being a wild goat on Hawai’i Island. They tend to live up the slopes of the mountains, where the big lava flows have left a landscape of broad swathes of old lava rock, with just a few plants growing in crevices. If you’re a goat, that’s what you eat, and so you spend most of the day looking for something to eat.

If you’re the small goat in the herd, you get last place for everything: for a spot under a tree when it rains, or for water at the high lake or spring, and, of course, for food when the herd has found a patch of green.

Now, the herd thought this one small goat was actually rather peculiar.

You see, when the herd found something to eat, they’d shoulder him aside, and he’d stand and wait to see what was left for him. But as they looked up and saw him standing there, sometimes he’d be looking up to the sky, as if he were watching the clouds.

“What are you doing?” they’d ask, and he’d say, “I’m watching the clouds.”

“Do you see how they come and wrap around the mountain, and then tail off into feathers as they blow away downwind?”

“Not really,” said the other goats, and went back to eating.

A little while later they’d look up, and he was gazing down the mountain to where the sea glowed in the distance. “What are you doing?” they demanded.

“I’m looking down at the ocean,” said the goat, “with all its shades of blue, and I’m watching how it fades up into the blue sky, and how all those blues come together so beautifully.”

“Huh,” said the other goats, and went back to eating.

As day ended, and they were actually feeling full (they’d found a good patch), they glanced up and there he was, staring into the distance again. “What are you doing?” they sighed.

“I’m watching the sunset,” said the small goat. “Look at the reds, and the oranges, and the purples. They’re all over the sky and the clouds and even reflected in the sea.”

“Ah. Right. You’re just crazy,” said the other goats, ignoring this. “Come and eat.”

Now I’ll be honest. I’m not really certain that a goat can appreciate the sunset, or the ocean, or the clouds. I hope they can, but I really don’t know.

I do know that people can appreciate the sunset (or the sunrise!), and the ocean, and the clouds above. I know that people can. And I know that some do not.

I hope that you’ll be people who do look up at the clouds with wonder, and the ocean with amazement, and the sunset with awe. I hope that you’ll do it always.

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