We all live in a zoo, of sorts. Each of us sharing some cages, and others walled off in our own private cages within the bigger cage of life. In fact, some of us have enclosed ourselves within multiple cages, each smaller and more cramped than the next one. Others have managed to break out of most of their cages, and now only huddle within the largest of them, with edges so far flung that they can’t even see the bars. For others, the edge of their cage is so close that they feel hunched and crowded no matter what they do.
However, most of us don’t wish to see or acknowledge these cages, so we don’t; after all, we are the creators of our cages, so we are hardly going to admit (even to ourselves) that we have placed these boundaries around ourselves. But think about it…how often have you told yourself that you can’t do or say something, or that you mustn’t do or say something? Every time you do that, you put another layer of boundaries (another cage) around yourself. These are cages built of fear. Whether it’s the fear of being perceived as “different than the norm”, the fear of failing, the fear of being rejected, or the fear of appearing silly or stupid, it’s still a barrier that you create around yourself.
What if it didn’t matter what anyone else thought? What if there were no way to measure success and failure? Would you do or say something then? Probably. Because it would be more difficult for the fear to take hold. Maybe not impossible, but definitely more difficult.
Some fears cause you to create a cage of solitude, walling out anyone and everyone that would even try to get close to you. Arrogance builds a fear in people of being seen for what they are rather than what they want others to believe they are. This causes someone with arrogance to build a cage around themselves to lock others away; keeping them from coming too close. Greed is another one that causes people to create a cage of solitude because they are more intent on obtaining more of whatever it is they feel they don’t have enough of. This causes the greedy ones to push people away (unless, of course, it’s people that the greedy one needs to “collect”), because they only have time for people that can help them obtain what it is they need.
Some people build cages not just around themselves, but around others, too. It could be that they fear being alone so they cage themselves together with a select chosen few to keep them close. It could be a widow who holds her grown children too close, or a clingy friend. Some people are afraid of being abandoned, so they, too, build cages around family members or friends in an attempt to hold them close.
Others build cages of “love” but the love is unbalanced, because their love is based on fear. They’re afraid that their partner might leave them, or they’re afraid that their partner only loves them because they’re beautiful/rich/powerful.
Most people do not analyze their reasons for “loving” someone else, at least not until that relationship starts to fall apart. However, even then, they will rarely recognize that their love was anything but that all shining icon called true love that we were all raised to expect and so look for endlessly.
But even an honest, balanced love can become a cage; although, it is usually a less restrictive, less inhibiting one. That is because it is constructed by all the participants in an equal and balanced way. It is more of an exclusionary barrier, keeping out those too frightened by such beauty as pure love to be able to understand or share the emotion. However, this is a rare occurrence, and this type of cage is seldom seen by the majority of us, and when it is, we usually see it as something to fear.
So, next time you think we only put animals in zoos, think about the cages you’ve built around self, and realize that we’re all in our own personal zoo.