Cages have two sides: the inside and the outside. It matters a lot why one is inside. It’s either to protect what the cage contains or to protect those outside. Cages are made of different materials and come in all shapes and sizes. There are cages for the little birds sold on Sundays at churchyards, there are simple medium sized cages for animals such as cats and dogs—and big ones too, for giraffes and elephants. There are cages that we can see and touch—and there are those that are unseen.
Some unseen cages are sometimes stronger than those made of steel. These cages are made of stifling traditions, distorted thinking or traumatic experiences and are often built to protect the one inside.
It is so difficult to venture outside a cage one has built to keep violence out. The person inside suffers silently and cannot seem to do away with the cage. But because life goes on, the person inside acquires a different image—a persona that few people can seem to understand. He loses his authenticity and becomes unhappy—often making others unhappy too!
Sometimes, we are not aware that we actually push someone into a cage or cause him to build one for himself. Bullies have a profound effect on their victims. So do overbearing parents and meddling grandparents. Even with the best of intentions, things do not always work out the way we think they should.
There are cages that come from hurts and fears—so we often overthink or believe more easily in whatever is negative. To a certain extent, being cautious can help protect us, our feelings most especially. However, whatever protects us can keep away happiness as well!
Perhaps the most difficult cage to get rid of is the one built from a traumatic experience. Many times, we aren’t even aware that we have built that protective cage. How does one tear down something we are not even aware exists? We don’t.
I built one for myself but tore it down ages ago, but only after I realized I lived in one. I guess we all have some sort of enclosure, some are easy to escape from, some are rather durable, but the best ones are resilient. When a cage becomes resilient, it is no longer an enclosure—but a cocoon from which a transformed person emerges. I suddenly realize that I like cages after all!