Appreciation 5/4/21

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Star is the coolest cat. Jet black with just a few white hairs on her chest, she’s very sweet and loving. Oh, sure, we have our disagreements, but I wouldn’t give her up for the world. She loves having her ears gently caressed. If you take the tip of her ear in between your fingertips and just gently massage them, she’ll adore you forever.

Today, as most days, I was doing this when it occurred to me that she really has no way to tell me what she wants. Oh, she’ll hint. If I’m petting her, she’ll move her head to coax me to massage her ear tips, but it’s just a subtle hint. I can’t help but wonder how many hints she tries to drop but that I miss. Don’t get me wrong; her “no” and “stop” signals are clear enough often involving fangs and claws, but “please” is a little more of a challenge.

What I was thinking though is how she cannot truly ask for anything, and yet she’s always happy with what she gets. If I don’t pick up that she wants her ear massaged, she’s still happy when I stroke her head and pet her fur. If I am giving her an ear massage but end before she wants me to stop, she’s happy with what she does get. She’s just content, showing her pleasure as her purring kicks into high.

We, as humans, have a habit of not appreciating what we have. When I was a child, I know I hated getting clothes for Christmas. We never had a lot of money, not that I understood that at the time, but we had plenty of toys, candies and food on Christmas, but when I opened that box with a shirt or socks in it, it just wasn’t a thrill to me. Now, as I’m almost a little bit more mature, I realize that those clothes were just part of the Christmas gifts to give me more to open. We only got new clothes at Christmas and our birthdays, but that they were under the tree was just to elongate the gift opening process. But, of course, I didn’t understand that.

I’m not so very different from many people. It’s not uncommon to always want the new car, the better house, the best cell phone. I wish I could say I wasn’t the same way, but today I had concrete poured to extend my twenty-foot-wide driveway an additional five yards. This will be the foundation for a carport that I hope will be installed in a week or two once the cement sets. Later in May, I will have a storage shed installed so I don’t have to store my tools in the mud room. It’s always bigger and better, but never good enough.

I think cats must be among the most Zen creatures alive. Star just ran off a burst of energy, flying through the house, upstairs and down. In a dog, it would be called the “zoomies”, and now, she’s lying here with me snoozing. She shifts from one state to another seamlessly. When she decides she’s had enough petting, we’ll “argue”. She’ll bite me, hard, and often I’ll push her off of me when she does. It happened not too long ago, in fact. And yet, she doesn’t hold a grudge either. She lies with me and is as content as if we had never fought. When she’s ready for more love, she’ll nudge me with her nose and “ask” with one of her less subtle hints. When I don’t get up early enough in the morning, she’ll ask with a gentle paw on my shoulder or arm, but if that fails to rouse me she’ll lay back down and try again later. She loves her food but knows there are times.

Speaking of food, although I shouldn’t, I let her try a bit of my food. I don’t give her a lot, usually I just let her try what’s left on my plate before I wash it, but, if the food is too greasy, I won’t let her try a lot. She has a weight problem, and I don’t want her getting too much fat, but as a cat it would be a natural part of her diet in the wild. But when I take the plate away from her, she seems fine with it. She doesn’t cry or whine; she had hers and she understands that it’s the end of the treat.

I want to try to emulate this calm. I want to learn to appreciate what I have without whining for more. In the end, I want to be happy. Like her.

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