"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Monday, April 19, 2004
cage Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from Latin cavea cavity, cage, from cavus hollow -- more at CAVE
1 : a box or enclosure having some openwork for confining or carrying animals (as birds)
2 a : a barred cell for confining prisoners b : a fenced area for prisoners of war
3 : where I live right now
I went to the park today for the first time in a year and a half, to visit an old friend, the fox I wrote about here almost a year ago.
When last I saw him, the fox had gone pretty much insane from being caged in a space that was far too small. He would walk back and forth thousands of times, retracing the same route, hoping that maybe this time he would escape.
And of course, he wouldn't.
I felt a tremendous kinship with that fox. Many days I would sit and watch him walk his circuit to and fro, and he would be oblivious to me looking down on him from above.
Today, I went to pay my respects to him. My wife and my grandson and I went to the park, and it was a lovely Spring day. We walked down the path that led through the farm animals and let my grandson feed the goats. He was amazed by the size of the bulls and liked looking at the hawks.
Then, I saw the cage, set against the side of a hill, tower shaped, where the fox lived. Nothing else, other than the birds, was caged. They were enclosed in fences, but they had habitats. No such luck for the fox. For some reason he had been locked away from the rest all alone on his lonely hillside in a tall cage where he could only walk twenty feet from side to side.
It used to break my heart seeing him in there.
I walked up to the cage, and looked down to see my old friend.
And he was gone.
Instead, a bobcat looked back at me, with an intelligent gleam in his eye. He was not walking in circles. He was determined and waiting.
Sooner or later, he seemed to be thinking, somebody would make a mistake. When that moment came, he would be there alert and ready like a coiled spring.
This was a very different animal indeed than the fox had been. Here was an animal defiantly refusing to surrender anything. Sure, we might be bigger than him, more powerful than him, and able to build strong cages. But just you wait, the day will come.
I felt sorrow for the loss of my friend, but at the same time I began to wonder at the source of the strength in the bobcat. What was it? Why was he so confident and undefeated?
Why was it that here was an animal in the same cage and circumstances, yet able to accept it and even thrive?
This puzzles me. So, its not the cage that traps us. For my mind, this is new territory, a road I will have to build as I go.
I want to be a bobcat, not a fox, I think.
Then we walk further down the path, and to my astonishment, there is the fox! He is now in a small enclosure (at least thirty times the size of the cage) with an electric fence and carefully trimmed trees. He is sunning himself on a tree trunk, oblivious to the passersby.
To most foxes, this would be misery. But to this one, it was paradise compared to what had been.
I have mixed feelings about this. He is still trapped, yet does not feel trapped. But unlike the bobcat, he is resigned, accepting of his enslavement.
Is the fox or the bobcat happier? I would say the fox.
But I'd still want to be the bobcat.
Real freedom lies in wildness, not in civilization.
Charles Lindbergh (1902 - 1974)