October 9, 2012

i know why the caged bird sings

i've never read the poem or maya angelou's autobiographybut i think i should.

nonetheless, the symbolism of the cage has come around recently, as it often does and i always think of how maya angelou, virginia woolfe, tori amos, and others have used the cage as metaphor. this time, though, instead of thinking about it only in a fleeting sense, i sat with it for a while.

then i wrote. a lot.

in an effort to be more concise, i have extracted this:

the cage is only symbolic of our self-imposed limitations.

in one of my most well-worn shirts:
a caged bird dreams from threadless
i've had it for years. probably not ironic :)
this is also in light of recent discussions about what it is to be grounded, having a fear of heights/fear of flying - both in an allegorical sense as well as how these things actually affect day to day life.

i can summarize that best by saying: life is hard.

it is. i won't sugarcoat that and i won't deny anyone's experience or difficulties but we should all be on board by now with the idea that it's all in the mind and our perspective can and does change everything.

the world is what we think it is.
if we can change our thoughts,
we can change the world.
 -norman vincent peale
life is hard but that's not the end of the story. that's not where we should dwell.

life is also beautiful. life is simple. life is good.

whether one agrees that the cage is self-imposed or some larger, diabolical cosmic joke, the message coming in loud and clear is that there is still freedom to be had.

now i sit with this...

we must learn to fly before we can be free.

and i expand and invite wonder....
if we don't learn to fly within the safety of the cage (i.e., our boundaries our comfort zones, our thought patterns/fears/others' influence, etc.), how will we know what to do when we're free (i.e., expand our boundaries, expand our awareness, open to abundance, etc.)


  1. Valeri, I love what you wrote. So true how the cage is symbolic only of our self-imposed limitations. Interesting about your shirt that symbolizes this exact thing. I'm learning to change my thoughts and am changing my world. I feel like I have been testing my wings this year and with flying. Thank you for sharing such beautiful words on this topics. :)

    1. thank you suzanne <3

      the shirt thing, so weird that it took me so long to put it all together. *chuckle*

      it's nice that we're both stretching our wings and that our paths have crossed on similar mom/artist journeys :)

  2. Hi,
    I believe it is true your mind creates your world. Just a thought can take you anywhere. If you think your caged then you are. If you think your flying then you are. We have such a great opportunity to be able to change our mind as humans. Animals have no control over what they think. Our mind makes our world and we can chose how we want to live it. So let's soar!

    Your fellow flyer,
    P.S. I like your button, I've got to get moving on creating those buttons.

    1. a thought can take us anywhere - i understand and appreciate the delicate balance it is to stay aligned with your true thoughts when it seems everything is working against you and you may veer off-course at any moment, but now i know that, too, is just a matter of your thoughts, patterns, and beliefs.

      the animal argument is a slippery slope. i minored in religious studies and in a few classes we talked about free will, man's dominion over the world, etc. and i never felt comfortable asserting any sort of pretend knowledge about how the animals' minds work. they are more intune with nature and their spirit's alignment, i think, they never have to ask each other how to do something, guided purely by their instincts - there is something inspiring about that.

  3. She is one of my favorite authors you need to read all of her books all of her poems and watch every darn youtube video you can find...read her biography...amazing she is...one night I sat up and watched her on an Oprah Master Series or Master Peice interview and I wad blown away by her. Look for that online fi you can find it and listen to her...shes so intelligent!

    1. the poet in me hangs my head low when i admit this ... i've never been a huge fan of maya angelou. i've listened to her read and have early memories of that and perhaps that influenced my later (in)ability to read her works but i'm old now and everything always come back 'round again, and i'm not as brooding as i was when it seemed i only read plath and atwood. i'm going to check out all the maya i can from the library (as soon as i pay those darmn (darn+damn?) fees) :)

  4. Your blog is perfectly amazing! Can you move here and be my neighbor? :)) Brooke

    1. brooke, THAT would be amazing. i told you i always wanted to live on a farm, right?

  5. Thanks so much for this post. Funny about the caged bird. We were traveling this week and my daughter picked out for herself a little silver birdcage pendant with lovely birds inside. The birds actually resembled small hopes fluttering, not birds at all. Perhaps they were trying to escape.

    I agree. Life is hard. Recently, I've noticed I tell my young daughter this fairly often. That sometimes things will be difficult. You won't always get what you want. I want her to learn how to deal with disappointments. I still am not good at that myself. Sadly, I have not been balancing this (enough) with the other side: that life is beautiful and kind and warm and good. It's all of it.

    Thank you for the reminder.

    Re: Angelou, I think she rocks, but I also understand the broody bit. Maybe some lyrical Neruda or Rumi. :-)


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