Once there was a man who came across a bird while not really looking for anything in particular. The bird was beautiful, chirpy and held the man’s attention. Contrary to the popular adage – the man took the bird under his wing. The man and bird shared a playful relationship – both were free, and both were happy. But the bird soon wanted more – the bird wanted a painting in which it could be captured by the man for eternity. The man, not wise in these things, didn’t know what to do. He resisted…but because he could see the sadness of the bird, decided to make the painting. The man was not a very good painter – but he tried hard even though his heart was not in it. The bird realized this and also tried hard to continue chirping in a tune that the man liked. As is the power of noble intentions – the painting started to become beautiful. The man was surprised to find such skill in him and the bird thought she was finally getting what she wanted. Year after year the man and the bird added a stroke here and a dash of color there – and soon the painting was a masterpiece to the outside world. And the bird appeared happy in it.
Ah…appearances are just that. The bird soon started wondering if being stuck in a painting was such a good thing after all. She had forgotten that she had wings…but now she was remembering again. The man-painter was confused.

“I built the painting for you” he said.

“That’s the problem” the bird replied.

The bird – though still living in it – started neglecting the painting. The man tried too…but soon realized it was useless. Nothing would make the bird happy.

Then one day – suddenly when the man was sleeping – the bird took flight and left the painting. The man panicked. The bird was all he knew…and the painting was all he had. And the painting was just undirected strokes of color and pain – without the primary subject. Though he was shattered – realization dawned that the bird wanted to be free. Which was ironic – because the man had not made the painting to hold the bird captive!

Both man and bird stayed away from each other… and though the painting existed in its physical state…all meaning of its existence slowly withered away. The paint faded. The colors became shades of gray. The bird said one day, she wants the painting destroyed. Invisible strands are holding her from flying high. The man did what he had done all his life. “Whatever you say.”

But it wasn’t easy for the man to destroy the painting… though it had been already destroyed a long time ago. The painting was his hard work and toil for so many years. It was his labor of love for the bird. These things can’t be turned to dust like that? But turn to dust the painting did.

And when it was finally over the bird cried and the man thought, “This is the saddest day of my life. This is the happiest day of my life.”

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