Mohini, a white tiger, spent years pacing back and forth in her twelve-by-twelve foot cage in the Washington, D.C., National Zoo. Eventually, a natural habitat was created for her. Covering several acres, it had hills, trees, a pond, and a variety of vegetation. With excitement and anticipation, the staff released Mohini into her new and expansive environment. The tiger immediately sought refuge in a corner of the compound. There she lived for the remainder of her life, pacing back and forth in an area measuring twelve-by-twelve feet.
Some prisons are built with concrete, steel, and razor wire. Others are built in the dungeons of our minds. Though freedom is possible, we often pass our years trapped in the same old patterns. We cage ourselves into our self-imposed prisons with self-judgment and anxiety. Then, with the passing of time, we, like Mohini, grow incapable of accessing the freedom and peace that is our birthright.
However, life is continually calling us to become more, to journey into the wilderness and face the truth of our lives. In my case, the shell of my life had to be softened, broken down even, by the experience of going to prison, before the moment of truth could appear. I needed to be humbled, cooked in the tears of loss, for any deeper life to emerge.
A new life requires a death of some kind; otherwise, it is nothing new, but rather a shuffling of the same old deck. What we die to is an outworn way of being in the world. We are no longer who we thought we were.
On the deepest level, this journey of awakening opens us to the innermost center of love. Love creates its own freedom from imprisonment, has its own direction, moves according to its own rhythm, and makes its own music.