Dogs, Again–But Finally, Cats
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Dogs are like people. They are the friends and allies of human beings. They are social, hierarchical, and domesticated. They are happy at the bottom of the family pyramid. They pay for the attention they receive with loyalty, admiration, and love. Dogs are great.

Cats, however, are their own creatures. They aren’t social or hierarchical (except in passing). They are only semi‑domesticated. They don’t do tricks. They are friendly on their own terms. Dogs have been tamed, but cats have made a decision. They appear willing to interact with people, for some strange reasons of their own. To me, cats are a manifestation of nature, of Being, in an almost pure form. Furthermore, they are a form of Being that looks at human beings and approves.

When you meet a cat on a street, many things can happen. If I see a cat at a distance, for example, the evil part of me wants to startle it with a loud pfft! sound–front teeth over bottom lip. That will make a nervous cat puff up its fur and stand sideways so it looks larger. Maybe I shouldn’t laugh at cats, but it’s hard to resist. The fact that they can be startled is one of the best things about them (along with the fact that they are instantly disgruntled and embarrassed by their overreaction). But when I have myself under proper control, I’ll bend down, and call the cat over, so I can pet it. Sometimes, it will run away. Sometimes, it will ignore me completely, because it’s a cat. But sometimes the cat will come over to me, push its head against my waiting hand, and be pleased about it. Sometimes it will even roll over, and arch its back against the dusty concrete (although cats positioned in that manner will often bite and claw even a friendly hand).

Across the street on which I live is a cat named Ginger. Ginger is a Siamese, a beautiful cat, very calm and self‑possessed. She is low in the Big Five personality trait of neuroticism, which is an index of anxiety, fear and emotional pain. Ginger is not at all bothered by dogs. Our dog, Sikko, is her friend. Sometimes when you call her–sometimes of her own accord–Ginger will trot across the street, tail held high, with a little kink at the end. Then she will roll on her back in front of Sikko, who wags his tail happily as a consequence. Afterward, if she feels like it, she might come visit you, for a half a minute. It’s a nice break. It’s a little extra light, on a good day, and a tiny respite, on a bad day.

If you pay careful attention, even on a bad day, you may be fortunate enough to be confronted with small opportunities of just that sort. Maybe you will see a little girl dancing on the street because she is all dressed up in a ballet costume. Maybe you will have a particularly good cup of coffee in a café that cares about their customers. Maybe you can steal ten or twenty minutes to do some little ridiculous thing that distracts you or reminds you that you can laugh at the absurdity of existence. Personally, I like to watch a Simpsons episode at 1.5 times regular speed: all the laughs; two‑thirds the time.

And maybe when you are going for a walk and your head is spinning a cat will show up and if you pay attention to it then you will get a reminder for just fifteen seconds that the wonder of Being might make up for the ineradicable suffering that accompanies it.

Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

P.S. Soon after I wrote this chapter, Mikhaila’s surgeon told her that her artificial ankle would have to be removed, and her ankle fused. Amputation waited down that road. She had been in pain for eight years, since the replacement surgery, and her mobility remained significantly impaired, although both were much better than before. Four days later she happened upon a new physiotherapist. He was a large, powerful, attentive person. He had specialized in ankle treatment in the UK, in London. He placed his hands around her ankle and compressed it for forty seconds, while Mikhaila moved her foot back and forth. A mispositioned bone slipped back where it belonged. Her pain disappeared. She never cries in front of medical personnel, but she burst into tears. Her knee straightened up. Now she can walk long distances, and traipse around in her bare feet. The calf muscle on her damaged leg is growing back. She has much more flexion in the artificial joint. This year, she got married and had a baby girl, Elizabeth, named after my wife’s departed mother.

Things are good.

For now.

 

 

Coda

 

Дата: 2018-09-13, просмотров: 562.