On Projection and Resonance

Boey modeling wire hay rack.




We brag on the goats’ mischief, a dead giveaway! We still laugh about the time Boris jumped into the middle of a table to get the salsa when we were showing him off to friends while having wine and hors d’oeuvres. There’s the time we found Boey wearing the wire hay rack that took two of us an hour to remove. And we enjoy remembering the time the goats attacked our consultant’s trained border collie who was trying to herd them (we warned the owner!), sending the dog whimpering into the bushes.

I once wrote a poem during a particularly hard time in my training program about taking Boris with me to an evaluation committee.


Boris greets guests as we never would:
on hind legs, head curving down to deliver a wallop.
So there! he says. Me first! When we walk in line,
Me first! The guests shrink back and
wait in polite silence for corrective action.
And certain guests wait and wait…. until it occurs to them
That I’ve gone wild and
this black goat is not just an attraction!

Could I? Would I DARE take him with me to Certifying,
my black voice of authority?
For that day he’d wear his horns and together
we’d rear up and curve down, delivering some blows
settling once and for all
issues of Presence and Power.
Then, on our way out,
we’d jump on the table
and eat a flower.

But this attraction to goats’ liveliness and mischief is not all about projection of suppressed feelings or attitudes onto these capricious beings!  Something else happens when you are with a goat, maybe something that happens with any animal (even human animal, for that matter!) whom you are attuned to, and this has to do with a resonance. When I walk the goats each day, I am received into the herd if I can resonate with that energy. I am considered leader, which means it is my job to notice sounds and smells, to be alert to my role of leading on the path: when to stop, when to continue, resting into a consciousness that is very present, one I suspect the goats are in to some degree all the time. In this state I feel lively!

My husband and I built our home some years ago, the goats present each day as we watched builders laying concrete block walls, then plastering them. (One day Boris came out with his head covered with plaster; I got out of there fast!) Concurrently, as we built our new home, my husband and I both experienced deep renewal. The following poem came from that period.

Boris running through the living room.


I am running my goats through your house,
the one you dreamed of years ago with its blood red
Tibetan cross courtyard, square and symmetrical, tended by whimsical monks.

I am running my goats through the stone passages, walls thick
from two wythes of block , over 100 yards of concrete ,
and my goats with their flips of after thought tails

wander the corridors of your dreams,
the abandoned concrete factories way up at the top
and tenants you did not know.

I am running my goats along the scaffolding still stretching the north face
of the steep side. Hooves clicking like high heels, they slowly peruse the house
from the outside in, looking into the guest room from two stories up, into Casey’s room

from 20 feet high. Or are you running your goats through my house? Your goats who dance on hind legs in the dining room I never had, yet here it is, windows opening
onto rolling meadows like those I grew up running through, a streak

of prairie morning fog. You are running your goats in my kitchen guarded
by two ancient Valley Oaks, tall and sturdy, the record of their many
scars in their bark, in the broken and dead branches now inhabited.

You are running your goats by my window seat, deep and shaded, where the knoll across the east meadow promises the landscape I dreamed of as a young child,
the landscape just beyond that pulls you into it, promising more,

and you enter, Yes! Yes! …more … Yes! …Yes! Don’t stop, a little further…

You are running your goats…

first appeared in Psychological Perspectives, Volume 44, pp. 12-13.