Pride, and a Gilded cage.

This is what happens when a self-assured human meets a colorful proud bird:

Imagine this: A man who is so assured of his place on the planet comes by a beautiful flutter of color and feathers. That being a gorgeous, bold bird of color and song. The colorful bird turns out to be proud as well. And is so assured of its swiftness of flight, powerful wings, and the strength of its shrill whistle. Man will stop to admire the sight. Bird will fly nearby in a dance the man will find daunting and flirtatious.

In his pride and high opinion of himself, the man will watch the bird’s graceful flight and listen to its inborn melody. After getting over his awe, the vanity that is so characteristic of man will deem him worthy of more than admiring beauty. He will consider himself deserving of possessing that beauty. He will call it, taming. And he will set forth to capture the bird who was too confident in its swift flight and powerful wings and was therefore too slow for the clever trap set by man.

The next part of the encounter sees the man standing by a gilded cage that contains the bird. He is quite pleased with himself for having captured beauty and satisfied that he now has the bird for himself. He might even congratulate himself for supplying such beauty to the eye, forgetting that he did not create it. The bird upon realizing its new position shrieks its outrage and flies upon the cage battling for its freedom. But the strong wings and sharp beak that were shields of confidence and might in a jungle are useless against metal. The bird will only come to accept this reality after painful collisions. What started as cries of outrage slowly turn into pleas and even prayers sent to the heavens for release.

Man will watch the bird’s fight in the cage and find the noise unpleasant. So, he will think of what to appease the bird with or at least get it to cease the endless flutter that’s denying him peace to observe the colorful view he covets. So, he will decide to limit the bird’s struggles by snipping the tips of the feathered wings. He will also find nuts, fruits, and seeds to appease the bird and control the screeching and the scratching. And he will call this discipline. He will call this teaching. And he will be pleased with himself.

The bird after consoling itself with the treats will understand the bribe. It will notice that the treats come to appease its cries. So that the cries that were once of outrage and prayer turn to demanding shrieks. It will soon teach the man what treats are pleasing by cawing in anger when the least favorite ones are given. The proud bird will tell itself that it still makes the choices on what it wants to eat and when.  It will now crack away on the nuts and hop around the cage under an imaginative vapor of its glory days. And it will call that freedom. It will be pleased with itself.

We’ll reach a point that man and bird face each other.

Man is now bent by the spine feeding a bird just to keep it quiet and peaceful. He looks at the now docile bird and wonders why he can’t see those beautiful colors and graceful movements anymore. It sometimes occurs to him that the colors are hidden under the flightless wings. And sadly still, the graceful swings of the bird are rusty from restricted hops and limps within the cage. He will search his memory to reconcile the fascinating creature he met with the now defeated but still proud one in the cage. He will feel wistful, but we don’t know if the man could one day set his self-importance and pride aside. We don’t know also if he will come to admit and understand that there’s no beauty in a confined bird but just the responsibility to feed it. Or if he’d come to the humbling conclusion that beauty is not his to tame or possess to begin with.

Bird is now crippled, ill-tempered, and entitled. After consoling itself with being in the cage by thinking it was being served and pampered, its plight reveals itself with time.  We don’t know if the bird remembers the days when it had true freedom. Or if it’ll convince itself that it had a better view and provisions that outweigh its choices. We don’t know if it bothers to caw for its treats anymore. We don’t know if songs burst from its breast from the lightness of its flight and rising of the sun.

It is at this point that man and bird face each other. Their pride stares on the surface mingled with slight regret, morose, and nostalgia. Man looks at bird, bird looks at man and this goes on and on until we don’t know where man ends and bird starts. We don’t know anymore which is bird and which is man. We don’t even know that they are two entities anymore as their demise swirls and coils into one messy structure.

And this, my dear, is what happens when a self-righteousness man encounters a colorful proud bird.

How are you?

It has been a while, readers! This title seems appropriate after the long silence. I write today wondering how everyone is. How is 2018 looking so far? Are there any major changes in your life? Did anyone’s hair grow? New pet? Back pains? …?

I’m always curious about the people around me or those that interact with my life in one way or another. And even end up making up stories about them when I need entertainment. Like, the man I sat next to in the bus could be a primary school teacher with a wife and a little seven-year-old girl. Or the moto-guy could be trying to date the girl who tends to the grocery store in his neighborhood. Basically, I’m interested in people and have been meeting a lot of them recently after moving back to my old town.

I notice something every time I meet a new person these days. After the usual introduction, there’s a question that comes almost instantly. For example, after the initial: “Hi Dada. Pleasure meeting you” part, there’s a good chance that the next sentence is: “And what do you do, Dada”? Which I usually need a few seconds to answer. What do I do? Is it acceptable to say I cook? Or I wake up and use the bathroom? I crochet occasionally?

The person obviously wants to know what I do for a living aka my job or whatever project/source of income that pays my bills. If it is in a corporate event, that person wants to know what gives me the right or legitimacy to be there. And sometimes the answer would determine exactly how much attention or decency the person should invest in me. Am I an interesting contact, potential client, potential employer or investor? Our interaction will now be determined by that question. And this goes so far that even simple flirting or friendliness will depend on the answer to the ‘what do you do?’ question.

We are in societies and situations where, “what do you do?” has replaced, “how do you do?” and “who are you?” comes before “How are you?”. This is a sobering realization for me. It’s sad to think that I have to know who you are before how you are matters to me. And we try to explain it away with logical, practical reasons. “I obviously can’t care about everybody”. “It IS a corporate event! I’m not here to find a new best friend”.  “Eerm, hello! I have bills to pay and a job to do…”. “You save yourself a lot of time when you mind your own business”.
Those are all valid reasons, or not. I don’t write today asking people to walk around throwing rose petals and marshmallows. I don’t ask you to start robotic “how are you, today?” conversations with everyone you bump noses with. I am not telling you to throw away practical reasoning and go give free hugs at the town offices (which could actually be fun). I am writing today asking how you are.

Did you take a moment to think of how you really are? How does it feel being you today? How do you feel with your human interactions?  How is your neighbor? How is your sibling? How is your boss? How is your driver? How is the noisy kid in your street? How is your maid? It may be a good idea to look into yourself and around you and ask. Who knows? This could be the answer to keeping in touch with ourselves and being happy.

So, my dear readers, “HOW ARE YOU?”.