What do I mean when I describe myself as a cage-rattler?

I first came up with the descriptor as my Soul Guide read the following poem:

the small man
builds cages
for everyone he knows
while the sage
who has to dip his head when the moon is low
keeps dropping keys
all night long
for the beautiful, rowdy prisoners


While I found myself deeply humbled and completely unworthy of sagehood, there seemed to be something wrong with the last part of the poem. Namely, at least in Western society, we fail to realize that we are imprisoned by forces like consumerism and patriarchy. And if you don’t realize you’re a prisoner, how can you be a beautiful, rowdy one?

While there is plenty of reason to believe that she never said it, Harriet Tubman is commonly attributed as saying:

I freed a thousand slaves; I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.

Sometimes we need a cage-rattler to help us notice the cage we're in.
Sometimes we need a cage-rattler to help us notice the cage we’re in. – Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

Why A Cage-Rattler?

How do you help those who are trapped in invisible cages? You become a cage-rattler. You see this in so many of the projects I am a part of:

Pneumadelic Breathwork

In Pneumadelic Breathwork I combine psychedelic breathwork with the ancient Bible reading technique of lectio divina. That’s bound to rattle some cages.

Manhood Reimagined

At Manhood Reimagined I start cage-rattling by undermining the common push for protection and provision, calling it an assault on women’s self-determination. Instead, I argue that manhood isn’t a destination but a journey from boyhood, one where you:

  • honor your biology &
  • heal your psyche so you can
  • discover your authentic self,
  • overcome societal obstacles,
  • grow beyond cultural expectations & use your gifts to
  • serve the world.

Abundance Reconstructed

I used to be a pastor, so faith has always been central to my life, but for a long time, it was also killing me. I unpack this at Abundance Reconstructed and offer a take on faith that, today, gives me life. It’s hard to be more cage rattler than suggesting that Western Christianity gets the Jesus story wrong.

Xero Shoes

The mere presence of Xero Shoes rattles cages in the footwear industry. In a world where everyone focuses on support and cushion with an elevated heel and a narrow toe box, we offer cushionless, flat shoes with a foot-shaped toe box. The result is a more comfortable shoe for all the reasons you didn’t expect.

My favorite way to talk about our shoes right now is to ask which is better:

  • stronger or weaker?
  • balance or imbalance?
  • sensation or numbness?
  • alignment or misalignment?

The answers are obvious but the cage-rattling happens when I point out it’s Xero Shoes that give you strength, balance, sensation, and alignment while most shoe brands take it away.


As an overall project, 50-for-50 challenges common assumptions about aging. First, I’m talking about my 50th trip around the sun which makes people assume I’m a year older than I am. It also creates an entire year of celebration and playfulness about getting older at a significant milestone, something you don’t see every day.

As for the Life Lessons I share here, each of these stories seeks to reveal a nugget of wisdom that I learned the hard way in hopes that they will give the reader a different perspective.

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