I was browsing Post Secret’s Facebook page some time ago, and happened to notice an interesting comment that someone wrote on one of the posts. It included a quote that went something like this:
A bird in a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because her trust is not in the branch, but in her own wings.
I like this quote because it’s a good analogy, and I appreciate that it involves a bird, and that the bird was referred to as female (which I suppose makes it more relatable somehow because it bestows a feminine strength to the bird rather than a masculine strength…?)
Anyway, (I think) it’s basically saying that you shouldn’t worry about whether or not you can trust other people, as long as you have some confidence in your own ability to recover if/when that trust is broken. Alternatively, I suppose the person who wrote the quote (as far as I could tell from a quick Google search, the quote is anonymous and not attributable to any particular source) might’ve been suggesting that you inherently have the ability to recover from any degree of broken trust (just as naturally as a bird has wings and knows how to fly).
The end message, really, is to not be afraid – don’t be afraid of having your trust broken, of being betrayed, of being abandoned, of being hurt, of having the ground taken from beneath you (within reason, of course… I mean, don’t want to be reckless about it, right?)
I’ve often thought that, if I could be any animal, I’d like to be a bird – preferably a bird of prey like an eagle or hawk, but any bird that flies would probably be ok too. Maybe after discovering this quote, I’ll be thinking more and more about being a bird, although not necessarily in the literal sense, but in this metaphorical, analogous sense in which I am not afraid of branches breaking beneath me.
And, actually, ruminating on this quote now, I realise that it really complements my “love regardless” thing because it, in a way, makes it easier to love regardless.
It’s also kind of funny, for a couple of reasons, that I should discover this quote in this chapter of my life. Firstly, I have (probably on several occasions) looked at birds perched in trees, on flimsy branches barely sturdier than twigs, and wondered how they could perch as they do, and not be scared for their lives, or at least feel their hearts beating out of their chests. (I think birds naturally have quite a high heart rate, anyway (?) but that’s besides the point.)
The second reason is that, in times of frustration or distress or internal restlessness or some similar emotion, I have, in the past, sometimes imagined great, powerful wings on my back – like those of an angel or a gargoyle – unfurled and ready for flight. I don’t know why my imagination does this (probably because of all the cartoons I watched as a kid, including that Gargoyles one), but often it is enough to relieve some measure of anguish.
It is a bit silly, but these funny, trivial things could almost be enough to convince me that this quote was crafted for me; or even convince me, perhaps, that the concept was somehow extracted from my subconscious mind, and eloquently reshaped into this quote, just so that it could be presented to me as a revelation.
But let’s not now, after all this, get into what happens if the bird’s wings are clipped or broken, or if it’s carrying some unbearable weight (internal or external) that anchors it and prevents it from flying. They are reasonable considerations, yes, and my practical and realistic mind inevitably thinks of them, but I’ve got to let my imaginative and romantic mind have some victories here and there. Let’s compromise in saying that the bird may also be ill or exhausted or starved (of food or of some other vital sustenance), but these conditions (we hope) are not terminal, and when she is suitably recovered, she may fly where and when she pleases.