Thursday, February 12, 2015

Things with Wings

If this post looks familiar, it's because I published it before only to take it down. Now I've decided to throw it back out into the world once more.

My sophomore year was all about birds. I struggled with feelings of low self esteem, despair, and self loathing, though I never sunk deep enough to call it depression. It still cut me, though. I pulled myself out of it with a by-your-own-bootstraps mentality borrowed from Frank C. Bucaro.
"Don't wait for someone to take you under their wing. Find a good wing and climb up underneath it."-Frank C. Bucaro
That quote was just one of them many wing-themed messages I carried with me. On my gentler days, my favorite was a Bible verse, Luke 12:6-7.

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Okay, so I was worth more than a sparrow. But because I was a by-your-own bootstraps girl, I wasn't going to crawl under any wing. I'd spread my own wings and fly, and after I did that, I'd take everyone else under mine. Cue the Emily Dickinson.

IF I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin        
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

I decided I wasn't going to be a miserable, pathetic robin. I'd spread my wings and become everyone else's fairy godmother. No, wait, a guardian angel! If I did that, if I managed to touch lives other than my own, I wouldn't live in vain. 
But after a year of living like that, a year of reaching out to friends and strangers who never reached back to me, I realized that most of them aren't helpless robins. They're Martina McBride's concrete angels standing sentinel on Maya Angelou's grave of dreams. 

I realized it, but I kept on guardian-angeling, because all my concrete counterparts and feathered friends would flop and die without me. And I never dared complain about my own problems, even inside my own head. If I did, I was whining, just like that pampered princess in Christina Georgina Rossetti's poem.

Me, poor dove that must not coo-
Eagle that must not soar.

I'm done living a life of silence. I'm done spreading my wings when I'm surrounded by birds too dumb to crawl under them. I'm done telling myself my problems don't matter because someone out there has it worse. If I picked myself up by my own bootstraps, everyone else can do the same. I'm done grieving. 

It started a grief within a grief,
To think their case was beyond relief--
They could not go flying about in search
Of their nest again, nor find a perch.
They must brood where they fell in mulch and mire,
Trusting feathers and inward fire
Till daylight made it safe for a flyer.
-Robert Frost, "The Thatch"

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