Like a Cool Breeze through the Bars

by David King on August 25, 2013

social cage Some days, I get a little closer to that feeling.

Most days, however, I’m not convinced. Most days, I wonder how everything got like this; how we let everything get like this. And I speak both personally and collectively; as individuals, as families, as a species, how did things get so out of control? Perhaps it’s a vicious cycle, a feedback loop of sorts – once the ball is dropped, it just keeps rolling, increasing exponentially in speed with every turn. Maybe it falls, maybe it stops. Maybe, someday, this all ends, and the loop closes.

Lately, I’ve gained a new perspective on the feelings of my youth; in particular, the feelings of unrest and discontent with the way things are. In my relentless tendency to view all things as connected, and to advocate for the connections among all species, I have noticed something profound; I have contemplated something that has left me disturbed. It is the thought that the world we have created, what we so conceitedly call society, is a cage unto itself, comparable to the fish’s aquarium, the chicken’s coop, the pen and the birdcage, the perimeter fence. It’s confining and altogether withholding. The rules that are necessary to create order invariably create chaos, both within the individual and within the framework of the structure itself. Rip nature from the grips of our ancestors, and what results is modern man, a species plagued by diseases of the mental and social variety; by things like depression and violence and celebrity. Dangle nature before us like the proverbial carrot that it is, and we are left forever grasping at something that the rules simply won’t allow.

Take an orca out of the ocean and place it in an aquarium, and you run the risk of increased anxiety and aggression. Take a human out of nature and place it in this mess, and the results are similar. Our psychopathology to their dorsal fin collapse, fences change us all.

I’m not sure what freedom is anymore. I’m not sure any of us really know it. That’s a tough one to swallow, but a hard reality nonetheless. What is real is lost, imagined as individual perceptions and manifestations, as if there exist versions of reality that are actually at odds. But what is real is simply outside of it all, beyond the bars and the fences, and we long for it. If we could hold it again, we would all surely agree.

On a daily basis, I wade through it. You wade through it, too. We weren’t given much of a choice, after all. The cycle is as vicious as ever.

And then, like a cool breeze, it washes over you again. That feeling of something familiar, something comforting and real, something that isn’t part of the mess. In just a brief moment, in a mere snapshot of existence, you’re almost there. You’re closer to it than ever before. You can taste the sweetness, smell the truth in the air, and it brings you home. For a second, or maybe longer, you return to it. There are no trimmed branches in this place. No concrete walls. No fences or bars to speak of. No cages or rules to bind you. No realities to be perceived or judged. Nature, or home. Something like that.

And then, suddenly, you’re back. Eyes opened again; or, eyes closed again. Where are you?

Where are we?

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