Break Out Of Your Bird Cage: The Key Of Intention
"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
Mindful Minute Up Front:
The site of a bird in a cage penetrates the conscience. A pet robbed of essence and quality. Like the bird who flies, do we humans have a similar essence? Are we rejecting it with self designed bird cages of comfort and security?
Whether traveling the world, conquering Wall St, or just getting by, are you living your essence? Only you know. Below is part of my path and a thought experiment that empowered me to listen. Hopefully it can help you.
Enjoy and happy flying.
The Bird in a Cage
Traveling through Vietnam, a tragic site kept penetrating my conscience. The status symbol of a bird in a cage. I can still replay this one bird. Photo above from my go to Pho place.
It would bounce around and around its cage. Up, over, down. Up, over, down. In a perpetual loop. A painful disconnect between reality and its inherent essence. Longing to be free. Longing to Fly!
In that bird's pain, I felt my pain. Ohh not from my Pho belly. But the disconnect between my path and my being. Nothing against my tech job, but inside I felt claustrophobic. I felt like a SIM, living someone else's life.
Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”. But in today’s world, often we live out society’s dreams. Other people's definition of success. Like the bird in that loop, we go around and around. Like that bird, something feels off. A ticking tension that can't be scratched away.
Yes, we can get that promotion, that car, that house. That consumer driven promise of happiness. But those are all fleeting pleasures, not happiness. If your ambition is rooted in those, there will never be enough. And deep down you already know that.
Ironically, these soothing comforts are like pimped out bird cages. I don't know for sure, but your heart does. And what if you explore your heart and find a stinky shit infested bird cage?
Well, that leads to that infamous and cliche question: What the fuck is my passion? My essence? I know, you can't be a god damn graceful gliding bird! Fair. But ask yourself this. So you might be unsure. No fucking idea where to fly to. Or even clueless about where are my wings.
If you know the cage is not your true home, should you stay imprisoned?
To help us break out of the cage, let us explore a case study about Frank the Tank and a little thought experiment.
Is Frank The Tank In A Cage?
Meet Frank the Tank. His self-given nickname if that explains anything. A seasoned Vagabond. A warrior of the road. He’s been traveling 24/7 for 30+ years. Mostly by motorcycle. Stories and scars to last hours.
It made me think:
Is Frank the Tank a free-spirited flying bird?
Or is he in a self-constructed bird cage?
Yes, the perpetual backpacker is a free spirit. Like sailors always on a quest. They say the 9-5 and corporate ladder are a cage to their soul. Hell, maybe these vagabonds were ironically migrating birds in prior lives!
Or maybe these ‘free spirits’ are not escaping a cage. What if they are in a mobile cage. This "free spirit" is actually imprisoned by fear. Instead of traveling, they are constantly running away. A fear of failure. Of criticism. Of being rejected. Shunned by the tribe. Of not being worthy of love.
Your Intention: Liberator & Imprisoner
No one knows, but Frank the Tank.
Only you know the true intention in your heart. For no action can be judged solely by the deed. Instead, it’s the power of intention that is the cosmic force at play. The surgeon and mugger both kill by the knife, obviously with different intentions.
This awareness of internal intention is hard. It’s a skill. It needs time and cultivation. Patience and love. Compassionate courage to listen. It’s easier to march to the beat of society’s drum. It’s hard to navigate your own internal caves. To ask why you do what you do. To dance with eternal fear.
Maybe the banker truly loves their work. Some do.
Or maybe they are acting to fulfill society's definition of success and power. To feel significant. Only the banker’s intention knows.
Maybe you have a compulsion to travel the world, to explore and live. Fuck the system. Zero judgment here. The road is an amazing teacher and will transform you. Or is it a sensory oasis of a video game to distract you. Is there an underlying fear that is really driving the gears of your life? A dragon you are afraid to slay to live your dream?
The road could be your escape or your dragon to slay. Only your intention knows.
The ego is almighty. It can create beautiful mirages driving you to get that next promotion or that 70 country bucket list. All while creating some internal narrative to keep you marching along. ‘Once that and that happens then I will be totally happy...". Ohh so fleeting. Empty itches that evaporate.
To explore internal caves, I have found the “5 Whys” to be master navigators. Keep asking why you do that. Why you want that? Why it makes you feel that way. Keep digging. Question everything, especially your monkey brain, tribal programming, and clever corporations.
It’s a simple, yet profound technique.
The Bird in a Cage Thought Experiment:
Time is the most precious asset we have. We are evolved apes flying around on a rock, in a 13.8 billion-year-old universe that spontaneously created out of nothingness.
Thus, our human lifespan of ~100 years is a fart in the cosmic wind. So in this grand scheme, fuck fear (PS: most 5 whys comes back to fear).
Maybe we are living in a video game or some AI simulation.
Maybe we are reincarnated 1000 times over across eons.
Maybe we are nihilistically living our one meaningless yet magical human life.
No one fucking knows. I know in the grand scheme, I’m not important. You are not important. And that’s ok. That’s actually awesome. That’s a hall pass from the universe. But what is important, what is magical, is our consciousness in this moment of time.
Pick any scenario above, why the hell not go all in?!
So with that canvass of time, ask yourself this thought experiment from Tim Ferriss a la Peter Thiel:
If you had a $100 million dollars, and you couldn’t just travel the Mediterranean drinking champagne, but had to give back to society in some marginal way, what the fuck would you do?
You can reach for the sky Elon Musk style, or just open a kick-ass hot dog stand making everyone’s day a bit better. But what would your heart do? Would it be what you’re doing now? No, but’s or bull shit excuses, dig deep. It’s only a thought experiment.
MY SHIT INFESTED BIRDCAGE
This question drove me to leave my corporate job. I felt a storm within when thinking of Gandhi’s quote. I tried to smother it. Tried to numb it. But the storm raged on.
What about income? What about my debt? Just abandon the MBA route? What would my family think? And Friends? But what would.....
I listened and listened, but my current path felt untrue.
It was the post MBA path, not MY path. I could have went to a smaller, sexier, and more lucrative tech job. It would have been better. But still a lie. Society’s song and dance.
When I listened to my heart it forced a new path. Joseph Campbell's quote gave me the nudge. Not the ‘right path’, just my path. I can’t see the end of road. There are no handlebars of certainty and comfort to grasp.
Ohh how I struggled with the question, ‘Am I running away from the problem, or running straight at it?’
But now I can sense the harmony Gandhi was talking about. A vibrational energy within that is aligned, that sings. I can feel that it’s not fear driving me, rather the universe pulling me. Ohh the path may be totally uncertain, but I haven't been mor ecertain of anything in my life.
Ohh I still feel scared and uncertain, for that dance with evolutionary fear never ends. But I feel the harmony. The door to the bird cage is open. And sometimes you just need to fucking leap.
So for you, ask yourself that question. Don’t just ask, but listen. Feel it. Embrace it. Nurture it. It won't be easy. But most true things aren’t. For time is too precious to be birds in cage that we built. Sometimes you need to just start flying, and let the path unfold in flight.
Let me know how it goes! Happy flying!