I was in a foreign land and I was guided to a museum. Here, I was told, a place of artifacts which only certain members of elite standing are granted access. The curators, scrutinizing me and my simple dress and demeanor clearly had a look of disapproval in the allowance of my entry (though someone- who I don’t know- gave the orders, and they would abide.)
I walked through massive rooms with ancient artifacts and heard voices down each corridor, ricocheting across marble surfaces distorted from the distances. I viewed the artifacts and continued through the exhibits. I then came upon an area that seemed to have only live animals. They were displayed in small windows, just the same as tiny jade combs from ancient Chinese dynasties would. The lighting was the same, as if these living things were also simply old, decaying things humans have created over our long-standing presence on this Earth. But they were alive. And in their eyes, I saw misery of captivity. Some paced back and forth, some bumped against the glass repeatedly in what seemed like a perpetual state of hypnosis. I was gripped with an uneasiness that which resonated from the core of my animalistic nature.
When I came into a room that felt darker, I was surprised to find a display with three animals, much-like a chicken, a cat, and a squirrel (but somehow different as well) I saw a flaw in the glass surface. Immediately, I was able to pry open the front of the display. I plucked the three animals from their box, and stuffed them under my jacket (all the while chuckling at myself for how indiscreet the lumps where under the cloth.) At the same time hearing one group from a guided tour closing a distance, and appearing to come closer.)
As in any dream, a ridiculously easy escape door was near as a fire exit as I quickly went out into the world. Immediately, I opened the jacket and released the animals. They ran frantically in all directions. As I watched them, many things occurred to me. There is no way they understand the rules of their nature and the ever fierce completion of survival within any setting to which they run. To my horror, everywhere I looked, only pavement and super highways littered the grounds – on every horizon. More disturbing was watching the chicken running back and forth along the byway which had no interruption of vehicular traffic. He was blown around from the velocity of the wind and appeared much like a pinball, precariously missing the four tires of each vehicle. The inevitable end was in sight, but I did not witness it, instead I awoke to a sound ricocheting off the nearby building. Morning prayer. .. And I awake from the dream, I think.
I open my eyes and imagine this experience I had, wandering the corridors of my own mind. And explored how I was “feeling” about my decision to free these animals. Now, with the capability to analyze human interference with the “lesser” species and our captivity therein, I pondered. What were the two options? To leave the animals in a place where they would be given what they needed for survival, daily, and more than likely would live longer, physically healthier lives. But at what cost!? In the short moments of freedom, they were able to experience free movement of their own making. They were able to sense danger, and to use their mobility to at least imagine they were evading it. Though the world seemed hostile to them, and the inevitability that they will perish was apparent, I ask myself in which ways do my daily actions represent the three captives versus the free, vulnerable, chaotic creatures. And do I, on occasion need to rescue myself from the perpetual state of “perceived safety” of longevity, even if the odds on the other side of the door are completely against me?