Pathways to Freedom

Pathways to FreedomThe smallest incidents can illuminate the processes of addiction recovery. My condominium building has long hallways on each floor that extend from each elevator, with the first sections upon exiting the elevators consisting of windows overlooking the marina community and the middle areas of the hallways marked by railings and no windows. The design protects people exiting the elevator from occasional winds and rain, but birds sometimes fly into the hallways and become disoriented and trapped behind the glassed areas. This morning, I found two beautiful woodpeckers, one adult and one very young, repeatedly flying against the glass in their failed efforts to escape. Both, seeing their desired destination through the glass entrapment, were unaware that their path to freedom existed only 15-20 feet away. Marks on the window and feathers on the floor offered testament to their futile efforts. Using a towel, I caught first one and then the other and carried them to the open area of the hallway. The adult woodpecker immediately and speedily flew to the North as it was released from the towel, but the youngster rested on the railing for some time before finally taking less graceful flight to the South. It seemed that the younger bird looked back at me as it flew away. Or did I imagine that? 

I later contemplated my encounter with these two beautiful creatures and how their dilemmas were similar to those shared by people seeking recovery from addiction.

Being able to see the desired destination is not assurance that one can or will get there. Like birds repeatedly flying into glass, the risks of injury or death do not deter those addicted from the failed strategies of the past nor do they quell the ultimate hunger to escape.

When we feel most trapped, the paths to freedom can often be found only a few steps away. When we finally escape, we sometimes realize that the path of escape had always been there, but that we could not see it.

Timing matters. Escape comes in its own time. For some, a period of respite to gather strength may be needed before the flight to freedom. One’s personal fate may hinge on the availability of sanctuaries to provide such respite.

There are multiple paths to freedom and they can lead in quite different directions.

For those who would help, it is best to offer informed choices, respecting when and in what direction escape occurs. Your help may or may not be acknowledged.

Am I reading too much into my woodpecker encounters? I will let you decide.