We have a parakeet named Treetop (Don’t judge. I didn’t pick the name.) We have managed to keep it alive for now over five years. That is an accomplishment in a house that has had a menagerie of low-maintenance pets (non-tropical fish, dwarf hamsters, a turtle) that we could not keep alive.
And Treetop is no pushover. In the past five years, he has had 2 prior roommates which tried their best to befriend him. You would them skootching closer to him on the pole they shared until Treetop chided them with a sudden flurry of feathers. It wasn’t long before each of them was found at the bottom of the cage - feet up. I was sure the first one was just a tragic accident. But the second one? That’s homicide. But that’s just my theory. After the death of his second roommate, I decided that maybe Treetop was meant to be a bachelor. You can put him in a cage, but he’ll be damned if you can make him share it.
So, it came as a surprise to me that this anti-social potentially homicidal sociopath of a bird would turn out to be so tame. Let me explain.
At some point I heard the rumor that other people let their parakeets out of their cage. That they fly freely around the house and eventually return to their cage because that’s where the food is. (Again, don’t judge me. I didn’t know.) To me it was a revolutionary thought that had never occurred to me. It never would have. Let a bird free to fly? Can they be potty trained? Or will they just leave their birdie droppings wherever they wish?
So yesterday we decided to liberate that rugged individual bird of ours. (I know I have attributed way too many character traits to a supposedly small-brained creature, but I believe them all to be true.) We opened the door to his cage. But he didn’t move. So, we unroofed his entire cage, giving him an unimpeded skylight of the world. And we waited. And waited.
He knew something wasn’t quite right. He clung to the vertical rails of his cage, hilariously sliding down to the bottom. He blew feather out of his cage with his constant ruffling. He moved from post to post. But not once did he leave his cage. Until finally it was night and his window of opportunity closed. We placed back his roof and covered him for the night.
I know. The analogy of a bird in a cage is so overdone. But when you see it in real life it all seems so sad. Which bring me to my oh-so-very-obvious point. As I look at his cage I ponder: In which way have I remained in a cage of my own making? What have I not allowed myself to see? What unknown have I been too scared to explore? And how much more is there to experience?
Today, we will again unroof Treetop’s birdcage. And today I challenge myself (and you) to step out of any self-imposed imprisonment. To be brave. To venture out. To fly.