I’ve always been envious of birds, haven’t you?
This feeling is an old one, back from when I was a child and we had this house with the huge open garden and the rooftop you could sneak to when Mum wasn’t looking.
And then, in the tall grass you could see these little sparrows flying in, swooping down as though it was the most normal thing. They would stay awhile, peck around and explore— it truly was a wild, beautiful garden brimming with the joy of childhood. And then, just like that, they would fly away into the afternoon sun, beyond the clouds, reaching the kites strung far away and if they looked down, they would see the world.
I envied them, child that I was. It was so natural for them— to have wings, to fly away on the slightest whim. Whereas I could only watch.
But then, the thought occurred to my younger self and I can assure that it was from watching so much Tom & Jerry, that being a bird, being so small, even with wings you could be killed anytime. Birds are prey. There are cats, dogs, humans from whom they are not safe. The thought filled me with sadness and I went back in the house, sitting quietly on the couch and resumed being the shy, reserved child that I’d always been.
I am older now, and I don’t live in that house with the garden and its adventures anymore. In fact, the garden isn’t even there, they built another house on it and only a meager patch of the tall grass and strange plants remain, a fading testament to my younger years.
But I still watch birds as they fly into the evening sun, landing atop buildings, in fields, at the beach, on cliffs or maybe still in another garden filled with children.
Although now I think that I might be a bird too, in my own way. I am a dreamer, after all, whether I like it or not. I cannot change this without somehow eliminating myself, like birds cannot hope to live after pulling out their wings. And I am prey too, as much as the birds are. Reality is cruel. The world is full of cats who want to eat you for dinner and humans who throw stones at you for fun. Dreamers don’t have it easy. On one hand, there are those who hate you, who don’t believe in you and on the other, those who want to exploit you and the tenderness you possess.
So, either dinner or a bird in a cage.
But if I could, for one insane moment, talk to the child I was (And perhaps I can after all. I did not let that child die. That child lives on in me.) I would tell that young little thing with the quiet dreams and big, innocent eyes that in the end, even though Mum and Dad never hid it from you, everything actually dies. Everything goes away, like the garden has. Even if the cat doesn’t get you, there are other things that will; Death will.
So I would rather be a bird who can fly for even a day— an hour, a minute than live a whole life not knowing how to fly.