The Flight of a Free Bird

Shortly after my seventy-fifth birthday, I was arrested on charges of political dissidence. Government officials had claimed that my writing, although entirely pacifist in nature, was dangerous and liable to incite revolution. I was taken to a high security penitentiary where I was kept in the company of a wide array of other misfits. I spent the next several months meditating and fasting within the confines of my prison cell. A short while later, I was deemed harmless, yet, they decided to keep me locked up nonetheless. I befriended one of the guards and asked him for a single favour.

I was given watercolours with which I was granted permission to paint the walls of my cell. Over the next few days, I painted ceaselessly and patiently. I painted a beautiful mountain, surrounded by lush forest and verdant foliage, and at the foot of the mountain stood a still lake. I painted a clear blue sky, with several white clouds meandering about, and a smiling orange sun setting upon the scene. I finished my mural by painting a splendid bird in the forefront, its wings spread majestically, ready for flight, and its beak held high, gazing upward at the heavens.

The day arrived, when several officers arrived in fine fashion to escort me to my parole hearing. I knew in advance, and could predict, what the outcome of such a hearing would be. After the six months of incarceration, they would now allow me to walk freely as long as I promised to never publish again. The guard whom I had befriended led the officers down the corridor, towards my cell, and turned the key in order to open it. I slowly rose from my cross-legged seated position, faced the mural on my wall, and gazed into the depths of the painting. I motioned the officers goodbye, leapt onto the back of the splendid bird, flew over the majestic mountain, and into the smiling sunset.