Today, I am re-publishing an article I first wrote about eight years ago. Recently a Japanese textbook publisher found this story on the internet and published it in a textbook for learning English. I got my complimentary copy late last week, and it was sweet to see the story set up in textbook format, with various vocabulary words underlined and defined. It is always wonderful to have someone show appreciation for my work, and it always brings a smile to my face when one of you writes telling me you appreciated a story from this newsletter. Thanks so much for letting me know!
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2. The Risks and Rewards of Personal Freedom
One of the first things I noticed about my new parrot was that he couldn’t fly. Chico’s wing feathers had been trimmed and thus he was earthbound just like us humans. Once the weather turned nice, I took Chico and sat him on a branch of a tree in my backyard to make him happier.
At first he seemed upset. He walked back and forth on the branch looking like an anxious father walking back and forth in a maternity waiting room. I was surprised to see that he didn’t flap his wings and try and fly. Somehow he just seemed to know he couldn’t, and I always wondered how he knew such a thing.
One day while Chico was walking on the branch of the tree, he seemed even more anxious than he had been when I first took him outside months ago. He was moving back and forth and talking a lot. Then all of a sudden he stopped walking, made a deafening screech, and started madly flapping his wings for the first time ever. About three seconds later he lifted off from the branch like the space shuttle at Cape Canaveral! I was amazed and shocked. I didn’t know he had been waiting all this time for his feathers to grow back. It now seemed obvious that he had been cagily biding his time.
Chico made his break for freedom on a Monday afternoon, and by late Monday night I was pretty sure he was not going to return home. Finally on Tuesday evening Chico returned, but he stayed up on a high branch where I couldn’t reach him. I talked to him softly and showed him some food, but to no avail. Then I took his cage inside so he would not think that coming back meant getting caught again. Finally I made him a promise that if he did come back I would let him out every day when the weather was nice. Shortly after making my promise, he flew onto my shoulder and I took him upstairs.
From that day on, when the weather was good I would always let him out early and he would fly around and be back home before dark. His routine continued like this for about two months and then suddenly Chico became ill. The vet said that he had caught a disease from the pigeons in the neighborhood. Within a few days he died, and I felt conflicted and sad.
I kept thinking that if I had not set him free to fly every day, he would still be alive. But then after a week of torturing myself I realized that the quality of one’s life is much more important than the number of years one lives. After all, what does it mean to be a bird if you can’t fly?
Chico made his first flight for freedom on a Monday afternoon in April. When will you make yours? You too can take a chance when the conditions are right, knowing that in your own way, you also were born to fly. If you don’t set yourself free, what will be the purpose of your life?
It is my thought now, that the quality of your life is dependent on feeling your essence, and living the design that is you. If you are a fish your life needs to be all about swimming. If you are a bird your life needs to be all about flying and spreading your message of freedom to all you meet along the way. What is your essence? What were you put on this earth to do? If you don’t let yourself be free and express your heart you won’t be fulfilling your reason for living.
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