Friday, February 4, 2011

Ageless and Cageless-Freedom in the Snow

Get me out of here"! Snow is on the ground and I have read until my eyes watered, written a couple pens dry, and ran the battery down a few times in my laptop. "I feel the need for speed"! Snow is still falling. It is frozen outside, and I am thinking how much I admire those triathletes who live in a more northern climate. How often must they look beyond the cold and snow, and be compelled by a warmer vision of the approaching season?

But the cold, bleak days come with learning too. Incarceration has reminded me of what I have already known and accepted: I am not a parlor animal. Without activity, without the outdoors, without a challenge, however meaningless, I will die to who I am.

As a boy in the city, I just had to trap a sparrow, just to see this wild creature up close and hold it. So, I did. I marveled at the complexity of the colors and the texture of the feathers, while the terrified bird's eyes darted back and forth, only knowing it was helplessly incarcerated by this larger animal. I put the sparrow in a cage, and went on to school. Upon returning home, I found the bird stiff and very dead. If the bird would have just tamed up, I would have fed and watered it in that cage from then on. It would not have to do much but just hop around within the cage and get fat. Why did it have to die?

Several years ago I went to a funeral and at the funeral home, I started listening to a group of men (some about my age, some older, some a little younger) talking about their ailments. They were pale, indoor-ish looking men, with spindly legs, thin arms, callous-less hands, and large distended torsos. They were all sharing their medications, operations, ailments, and the treatments they were on. They sounded like a surrendering army.

That was close to the time I had begun doing triathlons, and I can distinctly remember saying to myself: I will never, ever, be one of those men, no matter hold old or sick I get. I will not consent to a life of just hopping around in my cage; fed and watered. I guess I would rather die in my cage on the first day.