The Cage Life

She wandered the concrete path mulling over the latest drama that had arisen in her world. Coffee cup in hand she took the last mouthful and held it close to her chest.  Out of seemingly nowhere a feather appeared, dropped and floated right in front of her. She held out the empty coffee cup and caught it, looking above her head and all around - there was not a tree close by or a bird in sight. 

And not how other people did life, like perfect makeup on a perfect body with up to date fashion including a beau or two on their arm, a family to be envied, all while maintaining a totally fab job and living in the coolest place, socializing with all the ‘right’ people.  She drew a sharp breath recognizing she was not a ‘right’ people. Or a ‘right’ person. No, not at all. In fact, there was very little ‘right’ about her at all. Her ordinary life,  consumed by intakes proved it.

And not how other people did life, like perfect makeup on a perfect body with up to date fashion including a beau or two on their arm, a family to be envied, all while maintaining a totally fab job and living in the coolest place, socialising with all the ‘right’ people.  She drew a sharp breath recognizing she was not a ‘right’ people. Or a ‘right’ person. No, not at all. In fact, there was very little ‘right’ about her at all. Her ordinary life,  consumed by intakes proved it.   

An ordinary life consisted of trying to survive in a dog eat dog so to speak type of world.  People eat people type of world.  People eat food type of world.  She fitted into both of those worlds.  A world were people judged and dismissed her.  A world where food was her closest friend.

She thought about the feather and its meaning.  Did it mean anything at all? She disliked birds for the most part anyway, but her thoughts kept returning to the lone feather that dropped into her world. Lone.  Now there was a word she was able to relate to. 

  • Lone. 
  • A-Lone. 
  • Lone-ly. 

Even in a crowd she was the Lone-ly one on the inside.  The Lone-ly feeling would soon pass as she replaced it with thoughts of her closest and most trusted friend, food. And its removal. 

The feather may have been lonely but it certainly wasn’t lovely. It was dirty in color, worn and dull. Very ordinary. Common. “The feather wasn’t even Love-ly.” Sounded a lot like her.  Not Love-ly.  She thought she was supposed to be Love-d.  That was how the world worked but not her world.  More words that fitted her perfectly.  

  • Dirty. 
  • Worn. 
  • Dull.  

Perhaps that was the meaning of why the feather appeared to remind her of her worth.  

Not Love-ly. Dirty. Worn. Dull.  

Seemed appropriate.  And the icing so to speak. 

  • Ordinary.  

The feather was ordinary. 

  • Common.  

There would no doubt be billions of those same feathers across the globe. 

She thought,  at least the bird was not in a cage.  Whatever bird the feather had fallen from, it was free to fly.  Out in the open.  Not caged.  And then it struck her. Amongst other things she was caged.  Not a physical cage with a bars and a door where minimal amounts of food and water were replaced but a mental cage where the bars and food restrictions were just as real.  Those bars were held tightly in place with thoughts, patterns and behaviors of both herself and other people.   Cemented even.  Some of those were the same people who were supposed to love and care for her. 

It was true, although free to go where she pleased, she lived a caged life. The not Love-ly, dirty, worn, dull bird that the feather had come from had more freedom than her.  It was not consumed by the day to day worries of what to eat, what to wear, where to go. The bird knows that today has enough trouble of its own and not to worry about tomorrow. 

How she wished she was more like that blasted bird and its thoughts. She didn’t think she had done anything wrong to be in this ‘mind cage’.  She knew her behavior was made up of repeatedly incorrect choices in relation to coping with life but surely she didn’t get here by those choices?  Surely a cage or a prison was for someone who had done wrong, like really wrong. Broken the law or such.  What had she done to be imprisoned in this mind cage?

She knew food was her protection and safety for life.  She knew it was her close friend and confident.  She knew it made up who she was and formed her ordinary life that seemed to not be ‘right’.  Her recollection  of childhood was little and clouded however she knew she had felt unprotected and that was as far as her memory allowed.  

The thought of the feather would not leave her.  She got it.  It was a reminder she was ordinary and all the other words that went with the feather that she cared not to repeat again.  Surely that was it -  yet she could not shake that there was more. 

Feather. 

noun   feath·er   \  ˈfe-t͟hər \

Definition of feather

any of the light, horny, epidermal outgrowths that form the external covering of the body of birds

Nope. Nothing in that definition either. This was far too much wasted thought time on feathers, it was taking her from planning her next intake.  How foolish she was to be distracted.  

Her mind was confused. Again. 

What if it was one of ‘those’ experiences in life you were meant to be distracted ?  

Like a holy moment. 

Or fate.  

Or everything happens for a reason type moment ?

And then she heard a gentle voice, not the usual demanding on repeat voice giving directions and rules. Food rules. Life rules. All rules. The not to be broken rules. No, this voice was quiet and comforting – 

I want you to see love where you wouldn’t look. Even in lone, ordinary, dirty, worn, dull places. 

And as quickly as it came, it left.  But the impression of those words stayed..  Like the memory of the feather stayed.  

I want you to see love where you wouldn’t look. Even in lone, ordinary, dirty, worn, dull places. 

It was like those words had been seared onto her heart. 

And in that moment she realized that even if she was a ‘not right’ type of person, she was able to see love in the most unusual places. And even if she was ordinary or dull, she was able to see love. And this would include seeing love in herself.  Allowing herself to love and be loved.

And if she was able to see love it may move her sight to see more than food. It may uncloud her vision to see there are other things in life. Truth that she may be both loved and lovable regardless of the demanding voice which repeats otherwise. And someone who starts to learn they are loved are able to freely open the mind cage and start to walk away.  Away from the demanding voice and into the call of the voice of love. Even if to start with it looks alone and dull. 

Love.

noun   \  ˈləv \

Definition of love

strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties

an assurance of affection  - give her my love

warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion  

a beloved person : darling  —often used as a term of endearment  

unselfish loyal and benevolent;  concern for the good of another

And all this heart revelation thanks to a lone feather.  At the right place at the right time. She was so thankful for that feather. It was a start to freedom and was able to show her that even in the most unexpected places, love can transform anything - including a caged life.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amanda Long

Amanda Long resides in Cairns, QLD, Australia. 

Amanda known as Mandy, is a Coach/ Advocate who works with people to help them overcome anxiety, disordered eating, depression & losses in life.

At Project HEAL, Mandy is dedicated to sharing her lived experience to get the word out that recovery is available and HOPE is not elusive.

Mandy can often be found taking early morning strolls with coffee in hand, enjoying a good film and spending time with family & friends. 

Mandy’s favourite ice cream flavour is peanut butter chocolate.

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