The Cage

There’s an eagle that lives at Bonnie Falls.

As I write this, I am not particularly inspired. No great urgency of greatness rests upon me. I desire to do more than I am presently, though. I want more out of my life than just existence and survival. For many years I have driven two hours to a job in a cube where I stare at a screen all day and make the cyber realm keep on working. I just make it survive. I just make it exist. Some days I get satisfaction from this, most days I do not. If it weren’t for the people that I work with, I would soon go bat-house crazy. I pay my mortgage. I drive a ten year old vehicle. I am moderately in debt just to have a few comforts. Pushing fifty, and having worked hard since I was fifteen, I think that I should have a few by now.

So one day I’m driving past Bonnie Falls, and as soon as I pass by I see this bird fly over the top of my Ford Escape. I look up, and it’s got a wingspan almost as wide as my vehicle. He’s just hovering above the windshield about fifteen feet up, riding the airwave that my car is creating while moving down the road. I kept thinking that he’d swerve off and fly into the woods on one side or other, but he didn’t, he held his course and stuck with me. There was something very deep in this, it was like we were bonded together. I felt my spirit soaring with him. We were together doing this thing, me on the ground moving along, he in the air soaring along on my wave. The more I looked at him, the more I realized this was no raven, no vulture, no gull. No, not even a hawk. It had to be an eagle.

He was beautiful, magnificent. His feathers ruffled in the wind, his strong wings set straight out catching all of the wave that he could. He was having fun, and I was having the time of my life. Like a boy and his dog out playing frisbee, or watching a colt kicking it up in the field while you hoot and holler, l was part of this thing. I was reveling in the bird’s strength, his beauty, his joy, his intelligence. I shared the experience, and I felt lifted up, schooled, educated. He was teaching me something, and I was learning. Learning to be like him, wanting to be like him. To soar, to be free, be lifted up, to do what you were born to do. To leave the confines of the earth and stop being restrained. To stop from being held back by fear of the heights, and to make the leap of faith and plunge out into the air like a baby eagle who’s never flown before.

This straight stretch of Vernonia highway goes on for about a mile and then hits a curve where the creek makes a tight bend. I followed the road and the eagle went straight. He flew for a large Douglas fir and landed on a stout branch. It was then that I saw that his head was white. It was a large bald eagle, and he looked straight at me as I passed by. It was like he was saying, Don’t forget what I just taught you. Don’t go back to your cage.

For weeks I rode the emotional wave and boost that this experience gave me. I wrote like the wind. I dreamed and wrote down my dreams. I published and soared—I worked hard. But eventually the memory faded some, and I got mired down in the day to day. The drive, the job, the bills. I went back to my old ways. I went back to the cage.


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