Many of you know I lived with a roommate, a parakeet named Bradford. For the first several months we were together, his purpose for living was to escape from his cage. Whenever the cage door was opened, he fluttered in a flurry of flying, trying to find the way out of captivity. He was single-minded about this.
Over and over we practiced one small procedure. Several times a day I would put my hand in the cage. He finally grew accustomed to this and eventually he perched on my finger. This trust had to be established before letting him out of the cage or I could spend several hours, maybe days, trying to catch him. With limited intelligence, I didn’t think he would be able to find his cage by himself and his cage held his only food and water.
Finally, the day came. Perched proudly on my finger, I lifted him out of the cage. He flew all around the house and came to rest in a plant. (He thought it was the rain forest). It took some effort to get him back in the cage. I hoped he was enjoying the freedom. Wrong! He planted himself in the corner of the cage and refused to move. The world outside the cage was too threatening and scary. He was terrified. Gradually Bradford is overcoming the fear and is learning to find his way back home.
Am I, also, addicted to the comfort of bondage? It is easier to leave things the way they are, rather than to step out of my own cage into the scary world of freedom. For instance, I am free to do what is to my advantage. Although, sometimes, I don’t know what is to my advantage. (I asked Bob once, “How do we know what is to our advantage?” He said, “Go ahead and act on the information you have. At least you’ll have more information than you did before the action”.) Sometimes what is to my advantage may displease others or invoke criticism. Others may not like me. What if I hurt someone’s feelings? Alas, I’m once again in bondage to the cage with its four dual basic urges.
Paying attention to when I use the words “should” and “ought to” help me to see misconceptions. “I should go to that funeral, but I really don’t want to” quickly places me in the cage of conflict.
Bradford is a great teacher. His lessons are simple and easy to understand.
I will follow him along his path to freedom and know the door of the cage is always open.