The bird and the cage

From Maria’s diary:

Once upon a time, there was a bird. He was adorned with two perfect wings and with glossy, colorful, marvelous feathers.

One day, a woman saw this bird and fell in love with him.
She invited the bird to fly with her, and the two travelled across the sky in perfect harmony. She admired and venerated and celebrated that bird.
But then she thought: He might want to visit far-off mountains!
And she was afraid, afraid that she would never feel the same way about any other bird.

And she thought: “I’m going to set a trap. The next time the bird appears, he will never leave again.”
The bird, who was also in love, returned the following day, fell into the trap and was put in a cage.

She looked at the bird every day. There he was, the object of her passion, and she showed him to her friends, who said: “Now you have everything you could possibly want.”

However, a strange transformation began to take place: now that she had the bird and no longer needed to woo him, she began to lose interest.

The bird, unable to fly and express the true meaning of his life, began to waste away and his feathers to lose their gloss; he grew ugly; and the woman no longer paid him any attention, except by feeding him and cleaning out his cage.

One day, the bird died. The woman felt terribly sad and spent all her time thinking about him. But she did not remember the cage, she thought only of the day when she had seen him for the first time, flying contentedly amongst the clouds.

If she had looked more deeply into herself, she would have realized that what had thrilled her about the bird was his freedom, the energy of his wings in motion, not his physical body.

Without the bird, her life too lost all meaning, and Death came knocking at her door.
“Why have you come?” she asked Death.
“So that you can fly once more with him across the sky,” Death replied.

“If you had allowed him to come and go, you would have loved and admired him ever more; alas, you now need me in order to find him again.”

In “Eleven Minutes”


  1. tisco says:

    If both the people,who are separated thinks the same : will be back sometime if really love him/her, then the gap might be widened instead of coming closer…

  2. V says:

    One of the most beautiful story I have ever read!

  3. pilar chandia says:

    lindo relato el amor es libre y no en una jaula porque deja de brillar

  4. Rajneesh Chatta says:

    Really a nice one and I do believe it, not because I have been brought up by my parents teaching e to be good always but because I believe being good helps you being pure in thoughts and understand values of human life, loving and being loved

  5. […] interpersonal relations. Most notably, there was an analogy I’d previously read about The bird and the cage from an author I’ve been following for a while, Paulo […]

  6. Renae says:

    There is so mauch meaning in this short story. The truth is what most of us love about someone is their independence and courage to do new things-to fly freely. The sad truth is when you try to trap aperson and keep them from flying, you lose!!!

  7. Frankie says:

    The lesson learned from this article is that,love can’t be confined. It needs to be allowed to blossom naturally rather than forcing it.

  8. Natalie Hannuneh says:

    in other words : if you love something let it go if it comes back it was always yours if it doesnt,it was never yours :)

    ive recently finished reading Eleven Minutes,and I have to say it was the most inspiring book ive ever read,its life changing
    I love you Paulo

  9. nia paul says:

    this story feels like marriage. and it’s sad. and people still go on getting married and hurt each other, on and on. yes, we should be AND feel free.

  10. sumita says:

    it is hard to put into practice, but the reality is that we do not and cannot own anyone…all we can do is love with all our heart…without expecting anything in return. love the person in the present moment, not for something done in the past or something they will do in the future.

    1. alma herrera says:

      solo pienso en tener a alguien a mi lado tengo 50 años y nunca lo e logrado pienso que es por que seria entonces una jaula o cadenas pero nunca un amor verdadero

  11. VangjKuro says:

    This was beautiful! But i wanted to tell you something … If she had allowed him to come and go, she would have loved and admired him ever more! That’s true, but you forgot to tell that if the bird was free to fly everywhere anywhere anytime ‘he’ could loved other women. Am i right?

    1. jean says:

      You should trust him…besides if you are going to place him in a cage that is no more love but selfishness… Love is always giving and forgiving…it is selfless…you should be happy if the one you love is happy…

    2. Stephanie says:

      What is this love that knows of limitations? The love that I know does not seek to constrain the object of it’s affection, it encourages it’s objet de amour to revel in the abundance of warmth and caring that he or she may experience…

  12. Abdul Wahid Al Bastaki says:

    Well, these stories are sure a reflection of real life situations. Remember, Paulo is a professional in this line. So, every one will see himself in these stories one way or the other. The important is the we have to learn from these stories.

    I would say, here you go my love, you are free as you were ever before, lets see if you deserve me at all!

  13. isadora says:

    sometimes there are things or people which/whom neither we can’t have nor loses them at all. <3

  14. Hassan says:

    ” i question , and answer therfore i am ”

    our life time is incredibly limited, so we don’t have to waste it living someone else’s life. We absolutely dont have to be trapped by “dogma”, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.When we adopt someone else’s ideas and passively implement them in the how we live and approach being, we would certainly have the same result as someone who undergo a surgeical transplant from a sick body to a healty one …Simply we should not let the noise of others’ opinions invade our minds and replace our tongues , and handicap our heart and intuition.The world new form of educational institutions , be it schools universities and colleges , work on doctrinating people , and building their minds according to the stereotype that the leaders agreed upon .The latters have set a typical blueprint to be executed at all levels and in the vital domains where humans shape their way of thinking … controlling people’s minds is the shortest channel to make them beahve like herds and troops .In our times Tv, the wide web and multi nationals made the war of shaping a one model of citizen an easy and less expensive task to do . Being less negative , and seeing life and the world from heart lifting angle i would say that ” our mission as thinking beings is to requestion and doubt things to prove our existence Descartes said ” i think therefore i am ” …in my turn i would say ” i question and answer therefore i am”

  15. zilla says:

    i am like the woman… i fear to lose the one i love.. i put in in my own cage, but then like the woman i realized that he was losing all his luster and he was not the person i loved anymore… i learned that in love their should be freedom and trust… now i let him free and he always comes back to me…

  16. Aditi says:

    fear of losing someone or something we like…
    this fear ends up making us a totally different person than what we really are or have the potential to be..and i do not mean in a good way..! fear can never lead to anything good..atleast most of the times..
    i wish i can overcome this fear of losing “my object of passion” and let that person and myself breathe freedom, love and happiness…

  17. Betty says:

    I always admire your stories, they always change the way I think and free my spirit

  18. Anne says:

    There he was, the object of her passion.

    Once we see people as objects we lose their and our humanity. In order not to go to war and slaughter each other, we need to gain our humanity again. We can do that by letting each other be the subject of our love and attention.

  19. Lama says:

    You were born together,
    and together you shall be forevermore.

    But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
    And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

    Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
    Let it rather be a moving sea between
    the shores of your souls.

    Gebran K. Gebran

    1. Sultana Alili says:

      Magnifique phrase , belle et tellement vraie…….

    2. Karen says:

      Lovely sentiment.

  20. NEWTON JADON says:


  21. Maiken says:

    Nice story. It’s easy to grow “to” big knowing the skills and maybe it’s not any skill at all; it just IS! Thanks 4 the stories!

    1. Maiken says:

      The above was comment to another story!

  22. MaryAnn says:

    Great story because it rings true. We humans tend to want to hang on to things we love to the point of suffocating the life out of them. And we try to control or change the things we love until, like the bird, they become ugly in our eyes and we can’t remember why we liked them in the first place. Hope your story opens some eyes.

  23. danelle says:

    .love is not possession,.it’s looking at the person you love soaring high..with freedom, without greediness..
    to see him grow and be loved by anyone,.

  24. Kam says:

    Again a thought provoking story;it seem to question the theories of love by humans.What did the woman really love? The bird’s beauty,it’s nature or the freedom it enjoyed?
    It seems none, because she lost interest once she had the bird for herself;so,did she really love and if so what?
    But the story highlights 2 human failures;inability to know ourselves and therefore take what is central to our lives for granted.

  25. A dreamer says:

    I might not have liked it a few months ago, and I find it hard to gulp even now, but perhaps I am very similar to the woman, but I am learning and try to reach out to the bird who flew out. Thankfully, haven’t totally lost him.. and may be he would come back if my love is pure and free of expectations.

  26. sangeeta says:

    heart touching!i have read this book.i luv to read ur all books over and over again ..
    love always

  27. Monika says:

    I cannot fly, I have a broken wing (a bad inflammation in my right shoulder). Still colourful but it will take some time till I fly again.

  28. Melissa says:

    Desires of this world should not be possessed because once possessed it is no longer desired.

  29. eleonora says:

    le prigioni non sono solo al di fuori,molte risiedono dentro.Tener prigioniero il proprio amato,o non permettere all’amore che risiede in noi di librarsi in volo, lo trovo molto triste….Grazie Paulo,Suerte*

  30. rosemarie alimorong ganotan says:

    i love all your post and can’t help myself from reposting them and citing you as the best author i have ever known.

  31. bhavya says:

    when u r free…
    u love n experience d real zeal of life…
    dun ever put trap fr one you love..bcoz its equivalent to traping urself
    thnx fr a beautiful story:)

  32. katie says:

    we put so many physical as well as spiritual creatures in a cage like the bird.
    at the moment, we think that we are right, know the reality, stop thinking & questioning ourselves, not trying to be open to others’ realities, we put them into a cage. it is our being opinionated, stubbornness, denial that build the cage.
    it is done consciously or unconsciously.

    Those beings can be our lovers, children, other human beings, animals, the soul, feminine side in oneself, the inner child.

    we even build large cages for populations when declaring wars or keep our prejudices & stereotyping.

  33. paula says:

    Hi! This is the first time i left a comment here even if i read a lot that u write.
    This make me think of the first time i met my ex.
    He thought i was so wonderful and good and after a while with him everything i did was bad and i was ugly and more.
    And when i left him he told me that when i first met him i was so full of life and so happy and that was what he loved about me.
    But he never realized he made me that bitter girl.
    Thank u paulo for being such a great person

    1. Karen says:

      I hope that you are flying now with your eyes looking around at the possibilities that are out there…. waiting for you to fly past, circle around and perhaps settle for awhile if the fancy takes you.

  34. Shogo Onoe says:

    This is one of my favorite passages from Eleven Minutes. We should not try to change other people’s unique individualities; we should respect them. Otherwise, we just force them to be what we want them to be.

    1. stacey says:

      And then the bird you once fell in love with is not the same bird you fell in love with.
      I believe if you really love someone, you need to let them stay free. Remember what made you love them in the first place.

  35. Anna says:

    it seems a bit strange, or better mysterious, to me, but every time i read a story here, it has some sort of connection to my personal story at that moment. of course, there`s nothing strange in it – it`s just life and all in all, we have much more things in common than we tend to think. perhaps, just too eager to pretend to be not like the others.

    anyway, i love my bird who is so far away now. and i love you, Paulo, and thank you for your support.