Escaping the Cage


I have always been a highly civilized person. For the most part, I am considerate of others. I am never intentionally rude or bad mannered or insulting.

I am not uncouth. I don’t make scenes in public (or private, for that matter). I seldom raise my voice. I listen more than I talk. I dress modestly. I use correct English and am not given to crudeties or foul language. If it’s in my power and nature, I almost always do what others ask. I try to be helpful. In other words, I am tame.

When I was young, a lot of this tameness came from being fearful of doing the wrong thing. I grew up in a shifting emotional atmosphere where from one minute to the next, I didn’t know how I would be treated, so I did the only thing I could — be a good girl. I obeyed. I never talked back. I keep my rebellious thoughts to myself. I did what was expected of me, often before such expectations were even expressed.

Escaping the CageAs an adult, I continued to be tame. I seemed to know instinctively that any fierce disagreement would only lead to fiercer disagreements, escalating until one of the parties killed the other. Of course, such hostilities generally don’t end in death because somewhere along the line, one of the combatants gives in.

Since I knew that in any conflict I would be the one to give in, I never took up the battle in the first place. If I were going to give in, I figured I might as well do so before any damage was done.

I’m still tame, of course. By now it’s not just a habit, it’s who I am. Kind. Conciliatory. Even-tempered. I do experience anger once in a very great while, but those infrequent outbursts flare up quickly and die just as quickly.

Still . . .

There is a untamed side to me — an inner savage, a wild woman, a primitive and elemental being — that I get glimpses of once in a while. I first noticed this untameness when grief descended on me with the all the power of Thor’s hammer. I had no idea I was capable of such feral emotions. Even if I had wanted to, I could not have controlled my grief as I had always controlled my emotions. Grief came in an instant then grew and grew until there was so much pain I wanted to scream. And so I did. Mild-mannered me, tame me, good girl me screamed my agony to the winds.

For the past four years, ever since the death of my life mate/soul mate, I’ve been feeling an itch for “more.” I have never known what this undefined “more” is, but I’m getting an inkling that it is my wild side. I’m not sure how to unleash the wildness, though. Perhaps just by being aware of my connection to the earth. Perhaps by letting the winds take me where they wish. Perhaps by being spontaneous.

As John O’Donohue wrote in Aman Cara, “To be spontaneous is to escape the cage of the ego by trusting that which is beyond the self.”

To escape the cage. To be wild.

Oh, yes.

  1. Avatar of Sissy Pantelis
    Sissy Pantelis says

    I love this text. There is so much truth in it too- I had a similar experience when my father died. It was then that I took the decision to do what I really like- that was not an easy thing to do, it had been a nightmare to me for years. Grief acted like a catalyst- I suddenly let go my silly fears and only keep what is important for me. Well, it must be some mechanism like that- it is, actually, quite difficult to put in words.
    Pat, many thanks to you for writing this – I send you my best wishes and my love.

  2. Avatar of Pat Bertram
    Pat Bertram says

    I’m glad this struck a chord, Sissy. Grief is a catalyst, removing in one instant all our preconceived notions of what life is really about. It’s good to do things that are important to you — you, not anyone else.

  3. Avatar of Paula Boer
    Paula Boer says

    It sounds to me like you have had a major breakthrough in life. Grasp it with both hands and run with it. Leap off the cliff that tells you, wrongly, that there are boundaries. Don’t listen to whispers, yours or from others, that you can’t do this or shouldn’t do that. Follow your inner desires.

    I’ve been there, and it is amazing what lies in wait if only you will go and find it.

    Very best wishes,

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