I’m sitting in my home office working on some stuff, when I hear my wife calling out, “Thalia, no! Really?”
Thalia is one of our two cats. What she had done was leaped up into the clothes dryer. Once inside, she decided to lay down and look out at us, as if to say, “I am here — what are you going to do about it?”
It occurred to me, then, that there are some rather important life lessons you can glean from cats. The way a cat lives life may seem rather ridiculous sometimes, but when you get right down to it there’s a certain wisdom in it.
Here I present to you several of the lessons we can learn from our cats.
Run because you can
If you are a cat owner (and I use this term loosely, because let’s face a fact here — cats are “owned” by nobody) you have probably watched your cat zoom by. Then, out of seemingly nowhere, they flash past you once again.
There is no rhyme or reason to this. They just run and leap and climb and chase invisible things you and I cannot see. It can be super adorable and super annoying.
Yet they just go. They run because they can.
There is an inherent freedom in this act. Sure, us thumb-monkeys (because face it, to a cat, that’s what you and I are — thumb-monkeys) we see this as bizarre. But why? To a cat, it’s a part of their nature.
Human beings have an uncanny tendency to work against our own nature. Why? Because there are expectations and obligations and things that have to be done. As such, no time for silly play.
Why not? You and I only get one trip as these particular thumb-bearing monkeys, so why shouldn’t it be a fun trip?
Cats just go on a run because they can. This could be a valuable idea that us humans should take to heart.
Run and be free. Why not?
Chase the light
In the summer, the way the sunlight comes into my home office in the morning, if I move my coffee mug or mobile phone just so it casts a light ball. When Thalia, the more aloof and active of our two cats, sees this, she wants to chase it.
In the winter, when the light isn’t the same, she wants me to use the laser pointer.
Whether it’s the light mote or the red dot, she wants to chase the light and play.
The world can be a really dark and distressing place. Spend any time online and you are going to be bombarded with bad news, political lunacy, greedy business practices destroying the planet, and so on. It feels dark and very much like we’re headed for one of those unpleasant, dingy, post-apocalyptic worlds like in too many movies.
I don’t know about you but I would rather not. So — I am going to chase the light.
See what I did there?
Cats chase the light, and while to a degree its play to another degree they are hunting. That light is not going to get away from the fierce hunter!
Chasing the light and hunting it down may not result in catching it (since you can’t catch light) but it can enlighten you (literally and figuratively). It opens you up to seeking out something bright and positive. I certainly believe that’s how cats see it.
Why not take the time to chase the light rather than following the dark?
You don’t always need attention
Our second cat, Cosima, lives in the living room/dining room/kitchen. She seldom comes down the hall to the bedrooms, and no longer spends time in my wife’s home office/craft room.
I would say 85–90 percent of the time Cosima is on the couch. Either the back of the couch or on the cushions. There are many times she will ignore us when we are also sitting on the couch.
But then there are the times she is all over us. She rubs against my wife and me, wants us to pet her, rub her belly, and just generally be touching her. Sometimes she will do this to the point where it’s super-annoying and obnoxious.
Then, all at once…done. And she goes off to wander under the dining room table, or hiss at Thalia.
Cats only want attention when THEY want attention. Otherwise, they don’t want to be touched.
This a lesson we humans can totally learn from. Too many things that people do are all about cries for attention of one stripe or another. Look at me! Love me! Don’t ignore me and what I am doing. Look look look!
Often you are better off doing the things you do for you. It is too easy to do things and be things that are not for you but for others to pay attention to you. Yes, I am going to bring up mindfulness here because I believe cats are super-mindful animals. They know what they are, who they are, what they want.
The person you need attention from most is yourself. You don’t need others to validate you. Acknowledging this can go a long way towards finding more contentment in life.
Stop chasing your tail
We have a cat tree in the living room. It was originally meant for Thalia, our climber-cat, but somehow Cosima has taken it over. There is a “box” near the top that Cosima will lie in sometimes.
Often she faces out the front of the box, while her tail swishes around from the side. Every now and then she will begin to go after her tail, swat at it, grab for it, even bite it. Watching her chase her tail is adorable.
Oh, the metaphor of the thumb-monkey this represents. How many people always are chasing their tails? They endlessly rehash this mistake, that error, those problems, and how terrible life is.
Let’s face it — you can’t move forward in the world if you are always chasing your tail and ignoring the rest of what’s out there. Being aware of what you are thinking and what and how you are feeling in the now will allow you not only to just be and do, but also to move forward and make any necessary or desired changes in your life.
Even when you catch your tail, it’s your tail, so you’ve accomplished nothing. Chasing your tail gets you nowhere, so you should probably stop that.
Because fuck you, that’s why
The final, and possibly most valuable lesson you can learn from cats. There is no rhyme or reason, and the rules that the thumb-monkey has placed here are laughable.
Thalia jumped up into the open dryer and laid there, smug as all get out. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why.
Cosima scratches at the couch and only stops once we’ve yelled at her. She’ll usually leap up onto the back, look at us smugly. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why.
Thalia has grabbed a bit of plastic out of the recycling bin and is loudly chewing on it. Give chase and she drops it. As you take it and dispose of it, the look on her face is plain — because fuck you, that’s why.
Cosima jumps up on the dining room table and knocks several things off it. Why did she do that? Because fuck you, that’s why.
To be sure, there are times when you need to do what the rules say you should do. You drive down the street in the correct lane rather than in the center of the road, pee in a toilet rather than a random corner, walk around the guy talking on his phone in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store rather than bodily move him, and so on. These are rules of civility and common courtesy that are good for everyone.
But then there are the rules and matters that need to be broken. Protest the awful actions of the government. Quit the hateful job. Start your own damned business and be your own boss. Take control of your own damned life, be mindful and consciously create a desired reality.
Why? Because fuck you, that’s why. You owe nobody an explanation.
That can be really freeing.
Cats can be annoying, infuriating, and obnoxious. They can also be loving, adorable, and pleasant company. Do you know what other animals are like that?
Nope, not dogs. Humans.
Ultimately you are the only you that there is, and you get just one trip in the thumb-monkey-suit you call your body. So why not take some lessons from our feline overlords and just be?
Now the question is — where’s the can opener got to?
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you matter…but don’t neglect the feline overlords.