On Cats and Life Lessons

My cat presented me with a present this morning. Her name is Tails (due to her tail which is bent at 90 degrees about halfway up, the result of a fairly traumatic accident, I think). She’s six months old, if that. She found her way inside my garage one day in the fall and then she never left, and she’s become a very happy indoor cat.

She’d left for me, in the middle of my living room floor, a dead mouse. I’m glad she found it; my hope is she found it in the garage. I don’t think she’s ever seen a mouse before, and I certainly wouldn’t have thought she’d have known what to do when presented with one. Obviously, I was more than a little wrong.

I had another cat some years ago. His name was Mozart, and a more regal cat you couldn’t imagine. He seemed to be somewhere else, somewhere above the fray. One day I was sitting on my back porch and he comes up the walk and up the steps carrying something in his mouth. It’s a frog, and a very unhappy frog at that. I have no idea where he’d found the frog, and it was painfully apparent that he had not the slightest idea what he was doing with the frog. He’d found a plaything, I suppose. So before he killed it by accident, I pried his jaw apart and released the frog. Mozart didn’t seem to mind losing the frog.

Is there a point to this? Not really, except the observation that things just seem to happen in this universe of ours. There’s neither the rhyme nor reason we get from fiction. There’s no universal balance, no eternal battle between the White and Black Guardians, between the forces of Law and Chaos. Life just is.

Dave Smeds wrote, “It’s enough to make a guy wonder if the universe requires some sort of counter-balancing for every streak of good and/or bad times.” True, you do have to wonder, but what seems most clear to me is that life isn’t a zero-sum game. If it were, we’d hit a good-luck streak just when things seem to really be heading downhill, and in my experience that’s never happened.

Life is what it is, and we get excited about the good stuff and bemoan the bad. I think that we might forget or overlook the good things that do happen to us because they’re likely not as obvious to us. Good things don’t seem quite as momentous. It’s the bad things that we really notice because they just aren’t how we want the things in our lives to be. Speaking for myself, I tend to hear criticism much more easily than I hear praise; it’s the things that people think are wrong that stick in my mind than the things that people think are right, even though the right might outweigh the wrong by a factor of one hundred.

I didn’t get the job I wanted in Northern Virginia, for instance. Oh, how I wanted the job; it would have made my life so much easier in a number of ways, but it wasn’t to be. I don’t think that’s a strike against me, though. It’s not the universe conspiring, pouring on the pain and the heartache. It’s just that it wasn’t meant to be at this juncture.

I’m rambling as I’m wont to do, and if point there was I think I’ve misplaced it somewhere. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy on the universe’s part that life can go so wrong, though.

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