Growing pains happen at any age. When you're young, it's your bones and your joints that ache from the sudden lengthening and multiplying of cells in the marrow. When you're older, though, it's not an ache caused from getting taller or developing new physical features, but it's no less painful. The pain is in the spirit, the heart, and those aches aren't treated as easily.
Maya Angelou wrote once about the caged bird singing "with a fearful trill," and of the free bird "leaping onto the back of the wind." Maybe, definitely, she referred to something more societal, more literally imprisoning that what I'm speaking of, but the effect can be the same thing.
A cage can be comfortable. It has all the physical necessities of life--shelter, food, water, maybe even a cushion or a toy if you're lucky. But a cage is limiting by definition. The very word has such a negative connotation that we put our dogs in "crates" and not cages, although steel bars, locks--same thing. The view is the same day in and day out, no matter how many times you turn and look the other way, readjust your position. And at times, the need to stretch out full length and just fly or run can be overwhelming. It's maybe not the destination that's important, it's the act of flying itself, the ability to do so that drives us.
Pet store birds are happy, I think. They're also kind of stupid. Someone feeds them, people talk to them, occasionally take them out and pet them, or let them perch on a fake branch that the stupid birds don't even realize are facsimiles. But they don't KNOW any better. They think it's a treat to be out for a little while, then go right back to pecking at the birdseed delivered to them.
Free birds don't plan to fly. Watch them sometime. They don't sit and think about the ramifications of flying to the next tree or power line. They just go--and then they stop when they feel like it, or when the snack bugs look yummy. Birds would look ridiculous perched in a tree looking at all of the other trees and trying to speculate about pros and cons of each one. Imagine, the Overthinking, Indecisive Bird. Much of their beauty would be lost with the spontaneity, and I'm afraid they wouldn't enjoy their flights as much as they do, either. And that's me, sometimes. Scared to leave the branch that might as well be a cage, scared to leap onto the back of the wind. A ridiculous, overthinking, indecisive bird.
I think we should all learn to fly, in whatever way, shape, or form that turns out to be. As Michael Hutchence once sang, "'Cause we all have wings, but some of us don't know why-y-y-y-y-y-y." If you wait to figure out why, it might be too late. Learn to fly, early and often, so that when that cage door opens, you can fly through it instead of being stuck staring at a reflection of yourself that you're too caged to realize is just an image there to trick you into thinking you're not alone.
Flapping my wings...