Dancing with Goats

Robin Botie photoshops multiple images of herself dancing with baby goats. Original photos by Mary Jane Hetzlein of Ithaca, New York.I had no idea I was being recorded. Or that I was being watched by anyone else besides Mary Jane Hetzlein’s goats.

“Go out and do something happy every week. Every day, if possible,” I always tell myself. “It doesn’t matter what. Just find something that feels joyful.” This is one of my solutions for warding off depression.
“You wanna come over and play with some baby goats?” Mary Jane had said in her email. After several days of rain and flooding, I finally grabbed my camera and the Wellington boots I inherited from my daughter, and drove the short distance from my house to Mary Jane’s. And there was the happiest scene I’d ever stepped into.

Mother goat in Ithaca, New York by Robin BotieGoat nursing in Ithaca, New York, by Robin BotieA goat smiles in Ithaca, New York. By Robin Botie.

Later that night, as I transferred the goat pictures from camera to computer, the television was bursting with reports of the Charleston church shooting. Looking back and forth from the TV screen to the computer, I found I’d taken a hundred photos of field and dirt with an end of a goat’s leg or a tip of an ear. There were only three shots that did not look like blurry clouds racing off the picture. All the gentle goats prancing in the tall grasses, their sweet smiles, the baby goat that chewed on my shirt and danced with me as I backed away to focus on his face – all gone. It was now just a memory stuck in my head, disappearing quickly behind the television images of grief-struck people in Charleston.

What was I doing seeking comfort and joy in a yard of baby goats when people can’t even be safe in their place of worship? I wondered. Could I justify writing about goats when people’s hearts are breaking? And should I dare try to convey the silliness of being with baby goats if I didn’t even have photos?

I went to bed miserable, thinking of my poor photography skills, the floods, the people crying in anguish, madmen with guns, … and wished us all peace. Find something joyful, I told myself. The next day Mary Jane sent me eleven emails with photos of me dancing with goats.


What do you do to balance bad times with good times?

Share Button

6 thoughts on “Dancing with Goats

  1. SusanB

    I love your dancing with goats. You have wonderful friends who love you. The world didn’t stop living, loving and laughing when our children died. Life isn’t like that and thankfully so because we’d all be struck prone to the ground. Thank you for joy, Robin.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Cheers, Susan. The world certainly did not stop when our children died, much as we might have wished it to at the time. Yes, if we only listened to the news, and didn’t get out to see the sun (or a good movie or a joyful friend), we’d be frozen mud. That is no way to spend our precious time. So, even with sorrow draping our shoulders, let’s dance. Thanks for being out there, Susan.

  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    Thanks for showing us the joy in this world as we contemplate the horror and cruelty, Robin. I love the pics of you dancing with the goats!

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Maybe it seems silly, dancing with goats when people are being killed, but we need the joy to survive, to keep sane. I think the world would be a better place if more of us would stop to dance with goats or look for beauty and silliness and love.

  3. Elaine Mansfield

    Beautiful, Robin. And love that you were bailed out by a friend. Charleston shootings are incomprehensible and horrifying. I’m glad you danced with goats and talked about the conflict and process. We have to hold those positive things in the midst of grief to keep our ships afloat. Thank you.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you, Elaine. Yes, the positive things are what get us through the incomprehensible and horrifying. We need to hold onto them and each other.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *