The Widely Known and Tragically Common Case of the Caged Bird

 

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“What the hell,” is not a proper way to greet anyone, even to a small brown bird flying into your home through the front door. Had it been a wren, perhaps the omens would have been different; but I have no doubts that this bird, maybe some finch or sparrow, came, as it did, with a message to share.

But that wasn’t what I was thinking, at least not at first. Of all places and with great coincidence!  I had just been wrapping up a document of natural writings when the wild thing barged frantically into my bedroom. Had I been calling nature all day with my writing?  I had, hadn’t I? And here it was filling my home with that lively green energy.  It brought the sky, the faint breeze that morning, and the rustle of cottonwood leaves which, until then, I hadn’t noticed hanging off the trees.  It brought an awe by entering into my life suddenly and seemingly without reason.  But its desperation grew as it pounded its wings throughout my home, in search of a way back out into the sunny world.

In hindsight I should have closed the blinds to anything but the exit.  At least this way it would have followed the light, but instead it found its own light to follow. As it did, rushing madly across the hall, it barreled into a long kitchen window, thus ricocheting into the sink with an audible thud.  I rushed up thinking surely I had a chance now to cup it and take it outside, but motionless it seemed to have already lost its wild green state.

Admittedly, I felt guilty for this death.  Humbled, slowly and with some grace, I took the bird with care out into a small garden spot.  My grandfather once brought a horse back to life and now I wondered if I had such ability.  But when I knelt over the body, it was assured its soul had already passed into the next life.  Already so close, I looked carefully into its dark eyes.  No longer did it look afraid; in fact, its lifeless body left in a fearless and fierce pose.  It came into my home with such a hysteric state, why now was it so calm and coolly?

Perhaps, now gone and its message left, it could calmly leave this place. It was practically flailing its arms (wings) to get my attention—and it certainly did! But I almost didn’t believe what it was urgently trying to suggest. With the bird’s life gone now, I’m reminded of how frustrating it is that I don’t act until some precious thing is lost.  Like ideas, of which ask for our esteemed value.  And valued in the sense that we are willing to let them out to interact with the world, be received, critiqued, or changed.   They mustn’t be kept inside especially when you know they are asking to be delivered elsewhere.

The document that I mentioned has been a work of two or three years, now – and too much time inside.   Now, my calendar seems filled with doubt, disconnect, and impatience. Now, it’s a question of how long until those words are completely meaningless to me? When ideas are out there in the world, we can rekindle and reconnect with our investment in them: defend them, discuss them, or even relive the emotional depth of them. But if kept inside, don’t they stir wildly eventually to forfeit.

Isn’t this a common disease; how else has the caged bird metaphor become so commonly known among us all?  As for the bird, somewhere in the fabric of time nothing is forgotten.  I bury the bird under the cottonwood leaves, with a epigraph, “The case of silence is not a mere lack of words, but a pure lack of presence–listen, an honest life is waiting on you to be quiet and speak.”

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