Sunday, April 13, 2014
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
I had a viral video once. I was king for a day! Praise poured in from around the world. Both left and right lauded me. "SEE WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM A BIRD," screamed the headlines. I was everyone's wet dream: a moral monster for the world.
The first video of my bird, however, received many angry comments. I was bragging on how I'd trapped it and caged it. It fluttered madly to get out of the cage and resume its previous freedom. "Welcome to the real world, little bird! You're only as free as I say you are. Being able to imprison you means I have that right!" I mocked its futile efforts to escape. "Keep trying, birdy. The more you try the more it hurts!"
I got to play God, rewarding and punishing the bird as I saw fit by denying it food and water if it did not behave as I wished. (And of course however I wished it to behave was the correct way to behave.) I made all the rules and judged myself holy and knowing. Combining those two things was awfully convenient! But others got all pissy.
"You have no business being trusted with a helpless animal. Set it free! It obviously wants out of that cage, you prick!" "Yeah, whatever. Rapists want out of prison. You going to free them too? Get a life and leave mine alone." "Why don't YOU get a life and leave that bird's alone? There's no living with the likes of you!" "Bird looks perfectly alive to me. You're just imagining ills so you can spout your propaganda."
Around and around we went. I hated those "Set it free" people with all their phony moralizing and dictatorial mandates. This was how I got my jollies and if these people want to go to war that's fine with me! I'd love to shut you suckers up once and for all. Bring it on, bitch! This is how all wars get started, one person interfering in another man's jollies. A man's gotta get his rocks off come even the end of the world.
Truth was, though, I really wasn't enjoying much this private war. True, on one hand I relished it but it was also very oppressive as if I felt a large metal plate lowering itself on me, crushing me. Luckily, I had the most useful too of willful ignorance to ignore that. But the suppressed worry invaded my sleep no matter how many stories I read of righteous, lusty warriors. I was beginning to feel there was no way out - just like that damn bird.
Came a point where I lost all hope. I loved enraging all the online liberals and lying about how I was truly feeling, getting their goats. I'd just make up any old thing I wanted to get back at them. (While those idiots were trying to have an "honest" discussion. Morons!) But no matter how brave a face I put on, I had reached the end of my rope. That's when the miracle happened.
The bird no longer tried to escape. Rather, it sang happily, no more ramming itself against the bars. I had won. All my secret insecurities eating at me disappeared. I was reborn a new man, relieved of my burdens. Tentative to this new condition, I watched the bird to see if its behavior would continue. It did! Then, on the third day, I rose to life.
"Look at this bird!" I marveled in my soon to be famous flick. "It sings regardless of circumstance! It needs no 'freedom'. The cage is all it needs. Are you feeling trapped in your life? Then sing! Sing like the caged bird does. Forget about what you can't do. Look at what you can do! That's the secret to life. That's the secret to success. I am humbled by this creature of God."
And thusly I invoked godliness upon myself. The leftists loved it because it proved "the power of spirit" and "the ultimate goodness of life". "Life can only get you down if you let it," they crowed. I got an invite to appear on Oprah and to blog on Huffington Post. The right wing loved it because it proved you can capture, cage and control someone and have it turn out alright. "Life can only get you down if you let it," they crowed. Radio shows and churches came begging me to speak. My peace passeth all understanding.
The next day the bird died.
Seems ever since that morning it started singing it had refused to eat. Knowing it was to die, its voice returned at the thought of the coming freedom, the end of the nightmare at last. I'd assumed the vigor in its voice to be my vindication. I so dearly loved that bird at that moment. I thought I'd passed muster on judgement day. Now it sings in heaven watching me struggle in my cage of lies, pointless in every thing I do.