Voices Of The Caged: Releasing Your Soul.
“But the caged bird stands on the grave of dreams.
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.” ~ Maya Angelou, Caged Bird
Those lines always provoke a painful tug or two somewhere inside my chest, and have done ever since I read them for the first time.
All those disparate parts of me that splintered, that felt shame and hid themselves away in the darkness, start to wake up and let me know that they are none too happy at being put aside, forgotten, shushed, told Not now.
Now is when it’s important, their shrill and quiet voices insist. When else can I say it but now?
As convenient as it would be to be able to blame someone for our past pain or present circumstances, those voices aren’t fooled. They know who it was that forged the prison, and the one whose touch they long for.
All that keeps us caged is ourselves, our ego masks, the need to look good for someone else, the thought that we must be whatever it is we think we are not. The insistence on following the rules, and fear of being wrong.
And it hurts. It hurts to wonder whether you are enough, or maybe too much. It hurts to look out at people who are succeeding at what someone — maybe even you — made you believe wasn’t possible for you.
It hurts to do the same thing over and over… and over… wishing you could do something else, anything else, feeling the soul being sucked out of you a little each day.
But it seems you have no choice, so you trudge on and try to find meaning in the world you were persuaded to adopt as your own.
Why do we live this way? Who makes the rules of normal and why must we all follow them? That world isn’t yours. Truthfully, it isn’t anyone’s really, but we all try to live in it.
And in the process, we must drain life from wherever it can be found, to continue living in an artificial construct. We would kill any living thing in order to fuel our mindless emptiness.
What if this isn’t how it has to be? What if you could follow the deepest yearnings of your soul, rather than the ego’s flagrant demands? What if life could be so much simpler than we think?
Maybe our lives can return good into the world, feeding each other with riches we didn’t know we had.
Find one thing, just one, that calls to you and makes your heart sing. Hold on to it like a life raft. Let the glimmers of that light lead you. Commit to never abandoning your heart again, and in the safety of your own love, embers will kindle to life.
You may be surprised at how many starving souls will crowd to that light, kindling their own forgotten hearts.
Maybe that’s all it will take to change a world of heartlessness: the courage to burn. Maybe within those caged wings lies a Phoenix, ready to turn those artificial constructs to ashes, and rise, indestructible.
Does the moth die in the flame? Or has it found a portal to something even more glorious than flight, to a whole new plane of existence?
In the end, we choose our wings, or we cling to the cage bars, unsure of what we might become out there.
Fly, brave one. Take a deep breath, and spread those wings as far as they will go. Become big again.
Jessica Myscofski is passionate about photography, writing, travel, and discovering the beauty hidden in the mundane. She is recovering her voice from the grip of Asperger’s, and learning to love the journey. She lives with her family in northern Colorado. Visit her blog, or view her photos.