As I mentioned in my last post, we have cats now. Brent Leaders and wife have cats. With all the meowling, scratching, yarfing, furniture-tearing, clothes-and-surfaces-and-somehow-food-in-the-fridge-also-overrun-with-furring implications attached. I never saw this day coming and now that it’s here I can barely see any of the fabric in my house.
It’s not all bad, though. We named them Algernon and Ernest, so that’s a plus. They can be super cute when you look at them right. They have personality. Besides, my theory is that cats are entertainment more than pets. They do stuff and we get the privilege of watching. Mostly the stuff they do is Andersonian quirk at its best.
Sometimes it’s sheer horror.
Ernest recently learned how to jump onto our mantle from the television cabinet. The mantle is sparsely populated but enticing in its height and scratchable content. It is also the home of this blog’s wooden avatar. He sits quietly in whatever pose he was most recently given, content to mind his own business until he is needed again.
The wooden man never asked for adventure. His home, however, was invaded by a monstrous ice-eyed feline. His home that sits over a fireplace. His home consisting of only one wall and a precipice on the other three sides. His doom was written when the first padded paw touched the stones.
I feel like I watched the inevitable conclusion in eerie slow motion. Ernest attempted to scramble onto a picture that was leaning on the wall. The picture tilted painfully, loathe to release its tenuous position of decorative comfort. In the end, the cat was too heavy and the whole mess of cat, picture, and model came tumbling down.
I watched the wooden visage as it plunged haplessly to a sooty demise. I could almost see the single tear slide down the begrained face.
The cat and the picture were fine, of course. Cats are always fine. But the man did, indeed, take an unlucky bounce that resulted in some minor black stains.
Minor my arse.
I was already in a bad mood towards my animals that day and the aforementioned disaster felt like the last straw. They’d violated a safe place and injured yet another of my possessions, this time a possession that was moderately hard to fully replace. I was really, truly mad. I was ready to nip some cats.
But then I stopped for a moment and thought about why I was mad. The cats hadn’t killed any of my loved ones. They hadn’t given me a wasting disease. They hadn’t even cost me anything. They never have, really, outside of the basic care and feeding that one expects when taking on a pet. So why was I angry?
They’ve invaded my space. They’ve taken my time and attention and required my protection and investment. They want my attention. They need me. And I hated it. Who’s the monster now?
In stereotypically masculine introvert fashion I’m inclined to isolate myself. I want the most time possible to pursue my own desires and the least possible distraction therefrom. But real isolation opposes any sort of sound judgement. It leads to nothing but escalating selfishness, shriveling openness to new ideas, and growing tendencies towards confirmation bias.
Giving in to isolating myself shows that I care less for those around me than for my own desires. No matter what I say, that action speaks for itself.
The kind of isolation my ugly side wants is the enemy of love. Love comes into contact. It draws towards. It reaches out. It helps those in need. And it LOOKS for them first. I started to realize that I’d done none of those things with our cats. And if I can’t be strong and selfless when little is asked of me, what will I do when much more is required?
So I decided to make the cats part of my family. I’ll treat them with care and learn to love their flaws. Fluffy bastards. They’re not so unlovely. Not nearly as unlovely as some of the people I’m called to love. And they’re not that difficult. Not nearly as difficult as a headstrong child or a struggling young student.
The scarred dummy kept doing his job. He modeled for me just today, no grudges held. He now gladly shares his home and still doesn’t seek isolation.
If a dummy can do it, so can I.