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Free as a Bird

The Bird and the Golden Cage

Taken from an ancient story and proverb
Retold by Nivedita Yohana
Pencil drawing by Nour Kayali

There was once a beautiful singing bird adopted by a lonely and caring woman who loved it and pampered it in any way she could think of. The woman had been walking in the woods one day near a lake when she discovered a wounded bird caught in a fisherman’s net. She brought the bird home and bought it a golden cage, making it as comfortable as she possibly could while nursing it back to health. The woman lived alone and was very happy to have a friend to talk to, naming the bird Mufata.

Every day she fed the bird with the most exquisite snacks she could afford and brought it fresh spring water to drink and bathe in. Even though the bird was quite happy with its new, comfortable life, it often wondered if this new life was better than its old life ― a life in which it was free to explore its own true nature: to be with the other birds it saw outside each day and to use its wings to fly and to be truly free?

One day when the woman was out and about in the city shopping, Mufata was in his cage looking out of the window ― as usual ― wondering about how life would have been as a free bird. It was painful remembering the true freedom he once had, and equally as painful fantasizing about being free in the future. Just as Mufata was indulging in this wishful thinking, a strong gust of wind blew the window open as well as the cage door.

For a moment, Mufata was paralyzed by the strong wind and the sudden opening of the cage door. The world was winking and sending a message Mufata thought to himself ― the window and the cage door were wide open ― his wishful thinking had become a reality. The world outside of which he was constantly dreaming now lay easily within his reach. What to do?

Freedom Birds, photo Greg Suffanti

All Mufata had to do was spread his wings and fly out and start a free life of his own, just like in the past.
On the other hand, Mufata was suddenly aware that the cage was actually a comfortable and warm place where he didn’t have to endlessly search for food or fight the many predators he would naturally encounter everywhere or take any other responsibilities like finding a home and staying warm when it was freezing cold outside…

Which life do you think Mufata chose? Was it a life of comfort, luxury and predictability in a cage, OR , a life of unpredictability and risk taking: risks in finding food, friends, safety and shelter, discovering his own natural path in life where he would be as free as the proverbial ‘bird in the sky’?

Our unique spirit is just like a bird that is caged inside of us. This bird needs to fly freely in order to live happily. Each time we ignore our dreams for ourselves, or compromise our authentic self, or sacrifice our integrity, we are effectively killing that precious and unique bird!

Which bird are you?

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