On a blissful morning, when the reflection of the sun pranced across the rivers and seas and the world lay untouched in its purity, unspoiled by the next moment’s deception, a bird was born. The bird knew nothing and therefore everything all at once. With history’s myths yet to close their grip, the bird in his pure awareness believed all was possible.
He saw the sky before his eyes as a place of magic and an old familiar friend. He saw the treetops and felt their welcoming tug at his heart. He marveled at the way the wind whispered into his feathers the same way his mother did when he melted into the sacred refuge of her wings.
As the bird emerged without doubt into his world, he noticed something that perplexed him in his new state of being, where all was free and well. He began to see the ropes that bound all the other birds. Ropes sown from the threads of history, doubt, fear, shame and unworthiness. Barely noticeable at first, but becoming clearer with each scold from his mother to stay nearer the ground. With each rebuke from the others that he stay useful instead of listening idly to the caressing song of the highest leaves where the wind was free to play.
“But you can’t hear it if you’re moving so fast,” said the bird, to which they quickly replied that there was nothing to hear. At these times the sky seemed farther away and the treetops like a fleeting dream. They all meant well, unfazed as they were by their ropes and intent on keeping him safe with them on the ground.
Then, during one such moment, a master came. He told the bird that today was his day. He had learned enough to receive his own adornments. They would keep him safe. They would comfort him. They would give him a home and ensure his place in his community. So, he too was bound. Too young was the bird to understand the transgression against him. Too young were the other birds when they were bound, and their parents before them, and their parents before them. For generations it would continue, each one before and after unaware the possibility of flight. The true calling of their wings and their souls lost to the promise of comfort and safety.
Soon after, the bird forgot…
He forgot his friend the sky. He lost the feeling of the tug of his wings when the breeze tempted to lift him towards heaven. He even came to fear the heights of the canopy of green above his head. He forgot there had ever been a day that his ropes did not keep him securely in his place. Without knowing, without effort, he had accepted his fate.
Years passed and the bird became comfortable, even some would say happy, with his reality. He had family and friends who loved him. He had a beautiful nest on the ground and all he could ever need to “live.” He had feathers to keep him warm and an enormous expanse if wings to shield him from wind and rain. How ungrateful, how greedy he would be to long for anything more.
Yet, some days when he least expected it, the wind came whispering into his feathers and for a moment he saw the earth below him like a blanket. The sight made his tiny heart leap and dance, until he mistook the joy for fear and the image vanished with the same wind that had gifted him the magic of his purpose.
Still these moments of bliss continued and intensified in their power until the bird began to wonder if there was something he had missed. The visions became clearer and felt they were more than just visions. That they were, in fact, a remembrance of something stored so deep in his creation that they could never be removed by time, place, or circumstance.
The bird began to ask the other birds if they ever experienced these moments as he did. Surely, he must not be the only one who felt so strongly the magnetic pull of the clouds or heard the dance of the highest leaves so vividly calling his name in the silky whisper of their sway.
“Do you not wonder if our wings are capable of much more than refuge? Do you not feel that the expanse above us is not as menacing as we have always been taught to believe? Do you not sometimes imagine that the deep black of our feathers may be transformed into majestic hues of purples, greens and blues if we were nearer to the sun?”
But they mocked him and scolded him. Some even told him he had gone mad. How dare he long for more than they? He should be only grateful for abundance he had. He should do nothing other than give thanks every day for his nest on the ground. For he had a nest after all, didn’t he? No one had broken the ropes before. They were unbreakable. They had been there since the beginning of time. They were a gift to protect him from the unknown expanse.
He began to argue as the longing in his heart became too much to carry.
“But how can you know? How shall I be protected from something that no one understands? Who has been there who can assure me there is nothing but peril? Even if it were so, all that may happen is that I will fall back to the ground exactly as I am now.”
So his search began for someone who had been there.
Though his search took years, the seed in his heart only grew. He never again neglected the shimmer of his feathers when the rays of the sun broke through his cover of green, illuminating radiant jewel tones. He knew his visions had to come from somewhere, another existence, a reality he had to reach. He knew he would reach it. He wanted to reach it. He believed he could. So he decided that he would try.
This new bird decided that he would find a way to enter the expanse he so often dreamed of. He told himself that he had committed to the journey and each day would try harder than the one before. He searched, he pulled, he strained, he prayed and he wept. Each day, no closer to the sky. Each day, no further from the ground. For the ropes that had become an unnoticed part of his existence still bound him. All his intention could not lift him as long as he remained tied.
Through all this, magic was happening. The magic of awareness, of purpose, discipline, wonder and awe began to change his fate. The knots of his ropes, the knots that had held fast for centuries and for so many others, began to loosen. Until one day, he realized they barely held him. A childlike clarity washed over him in so many deep waves that he wondered how he had not seen it the whole time.
So the bird leaned down and he untied his ropes. He stood slowly and tried to notice if he felt any different at all. The breeze heard the hope in his heart and began gently, softly to play with his feathers. He remembered his wonder at whether or not his wings may have a higher purpose. He began to extend them as he had so many times before, if only to wrap them more tightly around himself.
This time the wind came rushing for him.
This time he soared.
There are not words that can be put to pen or paper that can convey the bliss of his moment. It is a moment that begs to be experienced by all who search for it.
His ropes lay forgotten, lost on the ground. A testament to the world around him that all we need to do is untie the ropes.