Being caged is a choice, freedom isn’t for everyone.

Parakeet1Every 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.
lf11parakeet_JPG_1325823gMaybe 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.

images (1)Security and a certain amount of comfort associated with a cage guarantee an acceptable outcome; after all, it’s what is known to us. But it’s a poor substitute for freedom.

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…


9 thoughts on “Being caged is a choice, freedom isn’t for everyone.

  1. So true – it’s always fear that cages us and it’s usually by choice. There’s a beautiful poem by Maya Angelou that expresses similar thoughts. I think it would resonate with you:

  2. Rosemary says:

    I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.
    Nikos Kazantzakis

    I wonder how many of us (like your birds) can truthfully say this?

  3. Sally says:

    What a beautiful post. How lucky u r to have these awesome birds in your neighborhood, I am so envious. And yes,freedom is a choice. I am an 8 year survivor of breast cancer which, over the years, decided to have a party in my lungs, bone marrow and recently brain. I don’t wish to sound patronizing , how to say this humbly…with help from so many living angels I have lived well beyond my sell by date. I try to choose freedom every day, every hour, every minute. Sometimes it comes easy, I don’t even know I am choosing to be free, sometimes I have to consciously change my attitudes in order to be free. Your birds are a beautiful metaphor for how I try to live my life. Thank you for the reminder xx

  4. Peter Barry says:

    Great piece and some seriously good comments!!! Life is to live and if one is lucky to also love.
    One thing Richard….where do the birds fly over…I am in 12th just down from 4th Avenue?

  5. Natalie Sheon says:

    I’ve been wondering about the ringnecks that fly around Jhb. I live in Norwood and see them every morning and every afternoon. Its nice to know that someone else has noticed.

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