A few years ago, pondering my tendency to give in to fear, I got this image of my life as a birdcage. My body is the cage, the beautiful bird in the cage is Spirit, Unity, pure consciousness. As long as the cage is uncovered, the bird will sing and sing. My ego is the blanket that I throw over the cage, especially when I grow fearful of the song or can’t imagine how it can fit or direct the living of my life. Of course the cage is completely porous between inner and outer worlds. What happens when I open the door and let the bird fly out? What happens when I become the bird and fly to meet my fellows?
A dear friend who had recently come through a difficult period strenuously advised not to become the bird, and certainly not to leave the cage. Rather than paraphrase her words, here is what she wrote:
There is so much to chew on, but we are of matter. Of humanity. I think I tried to fly as they say. . . and in the end, I found out that I’m still just human. And we are connected. So my question is: how do we connect and fly together? Connect those dots. It seems to me, from a consciousness perspective, we all need to lift off together.
When I was in my creative stage, something that I’m still processing and will never fully understand, I had this dream, this sense that if I had a pure heart and stayed in this blissful space, that my energy would emanate outward and that Baltimore would become this place, this portal for a higher consciousness. I believed it with every fabric of my being and I just meditated there, 24/7.
I stayed in that state with a deep level of consciousness about what I was doing, why I was doing it, and an awareness of reality—that became more distant as time wore on. I thought that all it would take was one: one person to hold the space, to enable others to begin to hold their space, etc, etc. etc. To fly. I definitely left my cage. I mean, I did. I’m not recommending it. The fall is messy and painful and hurtful and expensive. And possibly irreparable.
We are human. We are of matter. And even if your body follows you pretty far by having reduced need for energy and sleep, at the end of the day, our interconnections bind us, even hold us down. Especially in our culture. Perhaps if we could find that teacher, that one who could show us how to safely fly and land, and do it again. I don’t know.
I got to thinking about it as “surfing,” riding the energy waves. And because we are mostly water, I got to thinking that it makes sense that we are conductors of energy. If we are mostly water, of course we would feel those energy waves. So, maybe it is about learning to surf, not fly.
I’m fascinated by the ways we think in metaphor, to feel into and express the inexpressible. The poet Rilke saw the cloaked birdcage as a suit of armor that both protects and imprisons us. Birds and birdcages and flying, armor and swords, waves and surfing—our language flows from images and symbols that dwell in ancient places within us. The lens of our culture of individualism and competitiveness distorts these images. It blinds us to the interconnections that bind us to each other. We were designed to act in concert with others. There is no other way to accomplish big things.
This exchange with my friend took place quite a while ago, yet it’s a timeless reminder that, as embodied beings, we are not indestructible. We are fragile and powerful, both. We need protections to keep safe, yet those same cloaks and armor conspire to separate us, to imprison us in our loneliness. To frustrate us with the realization that we cannot do it All By Ourselves. To distract us from the simple fact that we are connected to each other and to all of life by the power of the Creative, also known as Eros. Love. It takes courage to honor our individual limitations and to reach out to others. When we tap the power of connection, imagine what we can do together, the problems we can solve, the healing we can bring.