Bird on My Wire

I once had a crow that lived inside my head. At first it was in a cage made of wrought iron. Black and sooty, with a big iron loop in the middle for it to sit atop.

It cawed and rattled its big, plumy wings against the bars and did everything it could to distract me and remind me that things were not right. In quiet moments when I could think, instead of hearing my own voice, I heard the guttural cry of this infernal bird. Pretty soon it was hard to escape. It followed me everywhere I went. I couldn’t see it but I could hear it like a white noise. I’d try and focus on my task at hand but it would soon begin to squawk and twitch.

Photo credit: Daryl McMahon

Photo credit: Daryl McMahon

One day it got out of its cage. Instead of flying away, it landed on a craggy tree on a sparse hill to cackle its glee over its release. It stretched its wings and flapped merrily on top of that branch while my insides writhed.

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It felt like that bird would never go away. It stayed there for months. Any time I felt like I was getting better it would send out a caw that rolled across the horizon of my mind. Oh yeah, you’re still here.

I began to tell people about the bird. Some seemed puzzled. The right people questioned me about the bird. Made me think about why the bird was there. What caused the bird to take pleasure in seeing me suffer?

At first I couldn’t answer. This crow was new to my life and I was making sense of so much, so quickly.

Then a transformation began. I focused on putting my mind towards a task that didn’t involve the bird. I stopped picturing things in my mind. I began to set small goals. I slept. I ate. I talked to a lot of people. I began thinking about life goals that would get me excited. I began building a new foundation. I started to examine my values and beliefs.

I stopped thinking about the bird long enough for it to fly off.

It hasn’t returned. He hasn’t come to me in a dream. He has made no appearances, not even within the confines of a cage. Now when I think of the bird, I think of him in the past tense. He was there, now he is not.

Maybe I needed to let that bird out of its cage. It needed freedom and by trapping it, I only made it worse. So even though it was painful to see that bird taunt me from its perch atop the tree, I can see now that it was only expressing its pleasure of having been let go. It wasn’t tormenting me. It was asking me to let go. It was painful process because I did not want to let go. I was scared of the outcome. When I let go, I fell. It was a hard landing and when I looked up for a time all I could see was that bird. But finally, after dusting myself off some, I was able to get back up and carry on. Maybe that bird is still sitting in that tree and I’ve just moved past it down the path to the next point in my life. Whatever the case may be, that crow is gone and I’m on my way.

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