A little, pigeon-like bird, in the shape of a human heart, is suspended within a rib cage

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The ribs are wrought into a typical Victorian-era birdcage. Nothing else resides within their confines, showing that our emotions govern us. The sternum is a long-stemmed rose that symbolizes the thorns we encounter on our journey through life and the exquisite splendour thereof. It connects to the rib cage, with a few open spaces that may allow the Bird to escape if it wishes to. We can compel our emotions, albeit with great effort, and we can free ourselves from negative thoughts, circumstances, relationships, jobs or anything that is slowly murdering the little birds inside.

Caged Bird is brought on by the constant feeling of being trapped. We’re all caged in some way: either by our daily routines, jobs, bills, circumstances, relationships or our minds. There’s always someone, somewhere in the world who is looking up at the sky and wishing to be free – to fly away. We all feel a little trapped at some point. But life doesn’t permit us the time to wallow in despair, and our lives are so super-paced that we can barely take a moment to stand still and look up at the sky. It’s a constant rush to get things done or to be somewhere. We don’t even have time to heal when we’re unwell. We probably won’t also have time for our funerals.

You’d never tell that everyone is going through their struggles because we all lock our hearts in a cage and put on a brave face: Hide those feelings, crunch the numbers, put on that fake smile. Stay busy; forget the pain.

Ironically, our hearts are physically behind a cage of ribs, and ironically to keep it safe from external threats. Sometimes we forget that our hearts are nothing more than frightened little birds longing to live a life of happiness.

“But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   

so he opens his throat to sing.”

– Maya Angelou