Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (The Great)
Once upon a time there was a cage. The cage was stuffed full of unhappy people. A guard stood next to the cage, cuffed to the door. He was unhappy, too. He wore a key around his neck at all times.
Inside the cage there was a little boy. He wanted to break out. One day he ran towards the bars and tried to squeeze through. He held his breath and wiggled between the bars. The unhappy people heckled him. His mother grabbed his arm and scolded him.
“What are you doing?” she asked. “It is not safe outside the cage!”
The boy didn’t care. He didn’t understand why the unhappy people wouldn’t try to escape to find a better life. The boy tried again and again to squeeze out through the bars. His mother scolded him again and again. The unhappy people thought he was delusional and filled with crazy ideas.
So one night, when everybody was sleeping, the little boy lie awake. He listened for the snoring around him, then stood up and inched towards the bars. He held his breath, squeezed through and escaped. He ran and ran for two days and two nights until he found a tree on the other side of the forest. He climbed up the tree and rested.
When the sun crested the mountains, and the morning birds sang, the boy awoke. He looked around. Flower-filled meadows lie before him. A crystal clear creek ran along the side. The forest behind him was filled with smells and sounds he had never heard before in the cage. He vowed never to return to the cage.
But as time marched forward, he began to miss his mother. He journeyed back to the cave and snuck in during the dark of night. He spotted the guard, snoring, and lifted the key off his neck. He quietly unlocked the gate and shook his mother, “Mother, wake up. I’ve come to free you from the cage.”
One by one all the people opened their eyes. They stared at him. His mother shook her head. The people muttered, “He was never right, that boy.” One little boy stared at him with eyes that said he wanted to leave, but couldn’t. The boy’s mother tightly held his hand.
“Run!” he said. “You’re all free.”
The boy turned away, tears in his eyes and ran. He ran away, never to return to the cage.
(Taken from the awesome short film entitled “The Cage.”)
The cage can be a job. It can be a relationship, a philosophy, a body, a religion, a way of life that no longer serves. It can be our own subconscious minds that lead us through an automaton existence of list items because we have never reprogrammed or updated our dinosaur-aged software. Heck, it can be not knowing where to start so not starting anywhere. Analysis paralysis. Trance dance.
The secret is that not only do we make our own cages, we possess the key to bust out. We are both the person inside and the person guarding the gate. We are also the person with the choice to escape to beautiful landscapes.
Indeed, the choice is ours.