Escaping the cage

“Three-fourths of philosophy and literature is the talk of people trying to convince themselves that they really like the cage they were tricked into entering.” -Gary Snyder

This quote gives me a bit of a chuckle each time I read it, but I also think there’s much truth in it. How often I stay in situations—be it jobs, relationships, locations—long after I have realized how unhappy they make me. It is so much easier to stick with the status quo even if miserable than to risk setting out into the unknown. Better to stick with the misery I know than risk winding up in worse misery, right? Or maybe it’s the expectations of others that I am afraid to upset that keep me locked in place.

And yet, it’s difficult to continue on in a situation that is causing me misery, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. We all pull away from things that cause us pain or make us uncomfortable. So how do we reconcile the fact that we don’t want to upset the status quo with the fact that we move away from things that we don’t like? In our brilliance, we solve this conundrum by trying to convince ourselves that we really do like our cage. We remind ourselves of all the benefits our cage has to offer, while suppressing and gagging that inner voice that whispers to us of the dreams of our soul for the life we were meant to live.

I know I have been guilty of this. How often I have stayed in various situations much longer than I should have, frantically trying to convince myself that I liked where I was. Or at least that I should like where I was. And all the while, my soul cried in the confines of the cage in which I was imprisoned.

The challenge is that there often were good things about the place in which I was. There were legitimate benefits to staying there. I could easily explain rationally why staying where I was made great sense. The problem was never with the situation. It may have been exactly the right fit for another. The problem was that it wasn’t the right fit for me. And my soul wept with sorrow.

I am working on the process of leaving another of my cages, and it is harder than it would seem to be. There are so many rational voices in my head screaming that this is too risky; the cage is safety (even if miserable)! But the deeper I learn to dive into my authentic self and the better I learn to listen to the messages from my soul that my intuition is telling me, the more clear it is to me that this is what I must do.

Life is inherently unsafe. My cage only offers the seductive illusion of safety. But how much more valuable than safety is the chance to fly free!

And so I continue to pry open the door of this cage. And I begin the process of learning to use my wings so I can soar.

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