There is a crow in your chest. He pecks, he gnaws, he bites. He wants to get out, he wants to get free. But you are embarrassed. A crow? In your chest? You don’t know of anyone else with such a condition!
And so you stuff it down, that crow. And it pecks harder and harder the deeper you stuff it. It goes so deep into you that it starts pecking at your heart, making your heart almost constantly ache.
Soon, you forget that the crow was ever there. You’re convinced you’re a person without a black bird biting his heart up. Still, you wonder why your heart feels smaller, feels diminished. And always hurting.
Then one day, you’re walking along the street and you run into a book sale. It’s on the street, and the books are only $2. You randomly pick up a book called, “The Crow Inside Me”. You don’t know why, but part of you feels that it has something to tell you.
The book is about the personal story of a man with a crow in his chest. He wants you to know there are so many other people with crows in their chests, and that most of them never talk about it, and so no one knows that maybe the person standing behind them in Starbucks also has a crow in his chest.
He tells you that the crow is your friend, your pet. That he only hurt you because you wouldn’t let him free, wouldn’t let the world see him. That he pecks so you would not forget he’s there, because so many people forget and they live lives where their hearts get broken into more and more and more until the heart either breaks or disappears.
The book ends with these words: “Let the crow go free. Let him free. He may be ugly, but he’s part of you. And, anyway, how will your heart ever be whole if he is always pecking at it.”
You can’t believe it. You put down the book in shock. Now an older man, you wonder if those vague memories you have from childhood could actually be real. Weren’t they just dreams?
You start to dig at your chest. It hurts at first, but how else will you find the crow? So you stick your nails in, and at first you bleed and you cry, but soon you start to hear a sound. Pecking. Your heart. You dig harder, and soon the reward of releasing your heart from its pain, the crow from its shared misery, a life of hiding this truth, motivates you.
Under the blood and the grime and the ugliness, you feel something soft. Feathers. You dig harder, and suddenly you feel this feeling lifted from you. The crow has stopped pecking just because you’re trying to get to it. An utter relief, a feeling you had no idea you had been waiting all this time to escape.
You hear the crow cawing in ecstasy. And you don’t feel any pain at all now, just joy, just utter joy. You make one strong, final reach into your chest, you brush your heart and it’s beating so strong and you feel the scars around it healing up. You grab the crow and rip it out of your chest. You put it down lovingly, feeling a sudden rush of soft air touch your heart.
The crow shakes off years of grime, blood, and pain. And as it does, you hear its caws transform into a song. And with the grime gone, and with the song being sung, you realize the crow was never a crow at all. It was a songbird waiting to be let free and it only sounded like a crow because you had kept it stuffed so far down that it started to scream.
In its joy it jumps and flies off in the air. You open the door, your chest wide open as well, everything is open, and you let the songbird out. He is in the air now, flying over everyone near you, and they hear his beautiful sound and they are enchanted.
The people near you, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your community, are amazed. They see your chest, the heart out and beating as if it is not exposed to the air and light, and they realize their own pain. Their hearts are being pecked, after all, and once you know that there’s no way to ignore it anymore. So they all dig. They dig and they dig all around you, some stronger, some scared, some confident. All of them have holes in their chests.
Soon, someone has torn his own songbird from his chest, and you realize it looks and sounds completely different than yours. But it flies into the sky and joins yours and its voice somehow melds into utterly perfect harmony with yours. Soon another person’s chest is wide open and her bird is flying with the other two. Then more and more. And each one adds its own notes to a song of utter perfection, somehow perfect no matter how many birds join, but always gaining in some sort of deeper truth as each bird brings its song to the larger song of the world.
You look around at everyone, with big smiles, their chests open, their hearts exposed, and you realize that this is the world the book had told you to dream of, that it had hinted at even though it itself almost seemed cynical that it could ever happen. A world where everyone’s chest is open, their hearts beating in the open, and their song bird joining in in the most perfect music ever heard on earth.