Every afternoon at the same time they fly overhead, a flock of more than 30 birds, wild and uncaged.
Since moving to Parkhurst in Johannesburg two months ago I have noticed the feral population of rose ringed parakeets, or ring-necks, flying noisily each day as they make their way to their nightly roost. They fly the same path each time, directly over my house.
They do it by choice.
I used to keep ring-necks in an aviary I built when I was sixteen, they are beautiful birds. I had never seen them flying free before.
They don’t belong in Johannesburg; their natural home is on the other side of the world on the Indian Subcontinent. But somehow, one or two have escaped their cages and a wild population of the birds is growing.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that an exotic bird breeding freely can be a threat; I only need to think of that other menace from India, the Myna. But I can’t help feeling a little thrill when I see the parakeets.
Maybe it’s because they’ve been caged as pets since the times of the ancient Romans and Greeks. Maybe it’s because I am sure that many people who see them have plotted to trap and recapture the birds. Maybe it’s just because I know that they defy the odds.
But it got me thinking.
Unlike a caged bird, we have a choice regarding our freedom. So many of us choose to remain caged, fearful of the uncertainty and unpredictability that waits on the other side of the cage door.
Some people even find happiness in a caged condition, freedom isn’t for everyone.
Relationships cage us, and can trap us in unhappiness and an unfulfilling monotony. Jobs can cage us too. But mostly we are caged by our acceptance of the hand that life has dealt us, the boundaries we have put in place for ourselves.
To change life is too risky. The ‘what if’ is a very secure cage door indeed.
Fear can control you, but only if you allow it to. It’s your choice.
You were not created to live your life in a cage…