I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself. -D.H. Lawrence
I’ve thought a lot about your bird. I have been insecure in the knowledge that I haven’t exactly met suffering with grace and dignity. Self-pity and I, we’re old friends. I’ve been embarrassed about that, ashamed of it. Why haven’t I been like your noble bird?
You gave me the answer, a single word inside your short poem: wild.
Freedom and self-pity don’t generally appear in the same places. Self-pity belongs to the dependent, the oppressed, the tamed. We are like circus elephants, moping around untethered, unaware that we are free because for so long we were not. This is the product of being rendered manageable, of having the very wildness stripped from us.
I am a domesticated animal, D.H. Lawrence. And I will tell you that nothing hurts quite so much – and leaves such weeping wounds – as the act of being broken. A tamed thing can’t help but feel sorry for itself. -h.g.
But your bird inspires me and awakens the feral in me, reminding me of the wild thing I once was and can be again. The ropes that hold me down are merely the ghosts of ropes that dissolved long ago. My illusions are all that oppress me now.
And so I’d like to thank you, D.H. Lawrence, for illustrating so beautifully the capacity for gratitude that liberty affords. In doing so you have, perhaps inadvertently, highlighted how diminished that capacity can become under the heels of oppression and tyranny. I truly love your short tribute to the frozen bird, to wild things. Without it, it might have taken me much longer to remember that I too am at heart a wild thing.