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The Caged Bird in my Kitchen

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Every morning when I come downstairs and I am home alone, our little parakeet greets me with her cheerful song. Her cage sits on a small white stool near a window looking out into the backyard. Once I lazily slip into my slippers I drag my sleep laden feet across the floor and proceed to lift the blinds so that the bird can look out into the nature. As I sit down and sip my cup of coffee I observe the bird. She turns towards the window and chirps at the blue morning. She seems happy, or perhaps anxious. Sometimes I feel that I project my own feelings onto that little bird, but how can her lithe frame ever hold the weight of my insides?

It took me a long time to be able to even look at the bird in the cage. The simple fact is she is trapped with no way out. I pitied her existence and wanted to let her go and fly free. But her wings are not the wings of a free bird and sooner than later she would find herself a victim of a hungry bystander. I could not do that to her, yet I did not want her in that cage, in my house either, shuffling with her little legs back and forth on the wooden stick, exploring every inch of that tiny cage never knowing anything but the smell of my yellow kitchen and the sight of that blue morning, the way it appears only from a thickly insulated window.

As I look at the bird living her life with little that she has been given, my brother crosses my mind. He has been recently diagnosed with autism. His experiences have been limited for most of his life. He is 16 now and is not progressing like the rest of his peers. He looks away the moment any eyes meet his, he cannot do simple, everyday things we take for granted without being told to do so numerous times.My brother’s day consists of asking what will our mother make for lunch, playing Super Mario, walking around the house deep in thought, and asking about an issue that piques his interest at the time. He does not seem to be progressing or showing signs that he will ever reach a certain existence, a level of normalcy that we expect to see in ourselves and others. I do not know how his life will change or if he will always need a crutch that holds him from functioning independently.

Until recently, I felt sorry that his life might go on this way. He might never think about philosophy, or the possibility of God, or kissing a girl, or worrying over the kind of legacy he might leave behind. However, lately I am beginning to think that perhaps we are not all meant to experience the same realm of existence. I worry too much, constantly trying to see the world from every angle possible. Perhaps I am not aware of my own cage and someone else is examining my existence with an equally judgmental eye. A caged bird in my own kitchen may be living her life as best as she can. Rather than her being a reminder of entrapment, here is to that caged bird being an inspiration for chirping every day and always turning around to face yet another blue morning.

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