Take these broken wings

I present to you a blog about birds, laced with metaphors, subtext, and me. I hope you understand.

I want to fly. I want to travel, to go to Ireland. I want to do things I’ve never done. I want to write a book. I want to write a song. I want to sing. I want to paint, to draw, to write poems, to create. So do it, you say.

I have been making progress. It takes time you know, to learn, to figure out how all of this works. And I will continue. Soon. But right now I’m on my perch.

Perching birds are called passerines, so go ahead and call me a passerine. The name means sparrow shaped. Passerines are songbirds. So maybe perching is just natural for me. I aim to soar. But I’m not an eagle. I’m not a bird of prey.

I am a passerine like a sparrow or a raven or a cuckoo. Yes, go ahead and laugh. It’s all starting to make sense now. Just remember it’s only natural for a passerine to perch.

Ornithologists tell us passerines are the most advanced birds, as well as the most adaptive and the most intelligent. Though they perch, they aren’t necessarily caged.

Need I remind you that blackbirds are passerines too? Thank you, Paul McCartney for creating a song for me. I’m sure there were others more worthy than I to be the subject of a song, but for someone who understands what it’s like to live with broken wings, your song is my epiphany.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

I know my moment has arisen, but I’m still learning. And learning and practicing, and learning and practicing can be exhausting. Sometimes I need to rest and to observe. I’m steadying myself and resting for a bit, locked in for safety’s sake.

Perching birds do that, you know. As they sleep, the muscles in their little legs actually “lock in” so that they don’t fall while they are sleeping. Of course, all birds, all beings, need to rest. But resting for a passerine is dangerous. It’s easy for a predator to swoop in and devour the vulnerable bird.

Though passerines are wild and free, there’s something to be said for the kind souls who provide these birds with shelter, building them birdhouses, filling their bird feeders and baths. And thankfully, though they love them so, these kind souls don’t try to cage the birds. When the birds need to fly, they fly. But they come back. They are caught but not caged.

I’m sure all passerines appreciate a safe place to land, especially the blackbirds.

And by the way, there are a couple things I might add about blackbirds. They like to sing particularly after a rain. Listen closely, for their first songs of the year are usually heard at the end of January or early February.

As for myself, I have been flying into the light of a dark black night for sometime now. I’m weary, so I’m perching. I’m thankful not to be caged, but I wouldn’t mind being caught.

Advertisements

Boundaries and the free spirit

ROM BOUND

I bought a bracelet the other day at High Cotton, a Manchester boutique filled with trinkets and trophies of Southern grace and charm. I was looking for a treasure. I found it.

Stamped metal. A variety of colors. Two words.

After browsing the other hand-crafted jewelry, scented candles, and one-of-a-kind finds, I made my way to the counter, somewhat reluctantly. I didn’t want my quest to end, but I was satisfied. I enjoyed my treasure hunt, especially because what I found was inscripted with the motto of my life.

“I knew you’d like that,” the owner said, carefully placing my bracelet in a bag. “It has you written all over it.”

And indeed it did, literally, stamped in the metal — FREE SPIRIT.

I have fought hard for the right to call myself a free spirit. I think about a lyric from one of my favorite Eagles songs “Already Gone”:

So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains / And we never even know we have the key.

The key to my freedom, oddly enough, is that I have had to learn to set up boundaries around my life. It’s what we all must do if we truly want to be free. And I’m still learning. Still learning.

Without these boundaries, we allow intruders to enter our space, our minds, our homes, our hearts. They steal those things we value most — our creativity, our time, our confidence, our peace, our joy, our resources, our choices, our dignity.

We live in chains when we allow others to define who we are and who we want to become. Nobody wants to be labeled. Sometimes we feel forced, destined to live up to the label. The only people who have the right to label who are are and who we are to become are ourselves. Labels chain us to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What if God has a wonderful destination for us, yet we choose to be chained to a vision of what others think we are supposed to be?

Young people, for example, often enter college with a plan to major in a field their parents deem acceptable. But will they be happy? Will they spend their lives chained to someone else’s dreams?

I say find a job you love so that you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

Sometimes we’re on our merry way to our aspirations only to be hijacked into taking a guilt trip with a driver who demands we give up our free time to work on a project we’re not vested in.

Serving is honorable, but why give and grumble at the same time? We can’t be two places at once. While we’re busy being people pleasers, we may miss our opportunity to meet our calling. It’s okay to say “no.”

“No,” is a little bitty word with two little bitty letters, yet “no” is a mighty fortress that protects us all. “No” is our key. “No” helps us establish boundaries, and “boundaries” protect our freedom.

Other people invade our space, cross our boundaries, hurt our hearts, maybe even our bodies, in a multitude of ways. Our dignities are precious, so is our confidence. These space invaders may go as far as being bullies. While bullying is a hot topic these days, we must realize it’s not limited to the playground.

Bullying takes place in the home, in the work place, among friends. We must, must, must establish our boundaries. Our freedom depends on it. We can say no to the thieves who take away our dreams, our safety, our happiness, our confidence, our time, our security, etc.

While we place great emphasis on punishing the bullies, I think we would have better results if we helped victims learn HOW to set boundaries, if we helped victims learn they are WORTHY of setting boundaries around their lives.

We must also remember we can’t cross other peoples’ boundaries. No one else is responsible for our own happiness.

I think the worst kind of bondage comes when we are so used to being held down that we blame EVERYTHING in life on the person or the thing that first took away our freedom.

We give up. We give in. We live our life in chains.

Sometimes we have to learn through trial and error that WE really do hold the key. God watches over those who choose Him. He understands our struggles, our mistakes, and He patiently uses those things to grow us, to help us establish boundaries, despite the ill wishes of our enemies.

I’m particularly fond of a line of a poem written by J. R. R. Tolkien:

Not all those who wander are lost.

Those outside our skin may think we’re wandering aimlessly. But what if God has allowed us to take the scenic route for a period? Maybe He wants to grow us. Maybe He wants to teach us.

Maybe in wandering, we find the truth and set our spirits free.

Free spirit

Who would have thought students could earn a scholarship for being a free spirit?

I’ve always felt like a free spirit waiting for her wings, but I’ve been too shy to admit it. I guess I thought the term “free spirit” implied something negative—irresponsibility or lack of focus.

Not so, not according to the Journalism Education Association, the Freedom Forum, and the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference program. Their motto is “Dream. Dare. Do.” Okay. Nice start. Nothing irresponsible or flighty about that.

A couple of my free-spirited journalism students asked me to write letters of recommendation for them to attend the conference, and the challenge inspired me to do a little research to find out what makes a free spirit.

The online Merriam-Webster defines a free spirit as a nonconformist. Like Thoreau maybe, who urged all to march to the beat of their own drummer.

Tina, a stay-at-home, work-from-home, homeschooling blogger from Central Valley, California, found her  definition of a free spirit through Wikipedia:

“Free spirits are inclined to explore life and taste new experiences that hold true to the deepest parts of themselves vs. being influenced by what the masses around them are doing. They are often people who think freely and have the courage to hear their own voice and follow their own integrity.”

I am a writer. I strive for the courage to hear my own voice and to follow my own integrity. What the masses say doesn’t mean it’s right. Sometimes I have to go my own way, do my own thing, risk ridicule. I have to be true to me–the way God made me–so I can do what I am called to do, not what someone else thinks I’m supposed to do. Hey, John the Baptist, could be called a free spirit with his camel-hair fashion statement and locust and wild honey diet.

My quest to find information for my students’ letters of recommendation sent me chasing rabbits. One website led to another, and I found myself enthralled by the vast info out there on the subject of free spirits.

Now I know why I often—not always, but often—click with some of my more unconventional students. Without consciously realizing it, we understand each other on a deeper level. The last thing I want to do is to cage their free spirits. I don’t want to change who they are. I know how miserable I am when someone tries to change me.

It’s not heavy reading, but a certain wikiHow site offers some valuable insight into the mind of a free spirit. Judge for yourself the accuracy of this information, but if most of these characteristics fit you, then maybe you’re a free spirit.

  • Free spirits are “fiercely independent” and love “everything out of the ordinary.”
  • Free spirits are creative and follow their whims.
  • Free spirits guard their inner selves.
  • Free spirits are selective about whom they trust; therefore, when they don’t feel trusted, they lose their sense of peace.
  • Free spirits wither when they are confined or controlled.
  • Free spirits challenge ultimatums.
  • Free spirits enjoy being around other free spirits.
  • Free spirits want to be accepted as they are, unconditionally.
  • Free spirits need alone time to think their own thoughts and to immerse themselves in their own creative projects.

If I had to sum myself up, I’d have to say I’m really like nothing of this world. I don’t have a desire to conform to it. Very few things can stop me from following my convictions, even if it means going against the grain and defying tradition.

I guess I’m pretty happy just being me.