Thoughts by Richard Bleil
My cat Star seems to enjoy hanging out with me. Yes, she has needs met by the hand of her human servant, but the reality is that cats don’t have many needs. Just food, water, somebody to “flush” the litter box and a human to buy a fifteen-thousand-dollar central air conditioner so she’s not uncomfortable and to clean the air to help with her allergies. Simple. But as far as she’s concerned, there is no reason to show gratitude for this. It’s just the way it should be. And, yes, she’ll yell at me if I forget, but that’s on me, right?
But when I say she enjoys hanging out with me, I mean she enjoys being near me even when she has no needs. Right now, I’m sitting on my couch watching a truly stupid movie and writing this post, and she’s here on the couch next to me. Earlier I was upstairs working, and even though she wasn’t in my room with me (I’ve bought her so many kitty beds and she just won’t use any of them), she was still upstairs sleeping in my bedroom. Yes, sometimes she’ll want love. She’ll sit on my lap (or on my chest when I’m laying down) and nudge me if I don’t give her love soon enough (or with sufficient dedication), but other times, like now, she’s just laying here hanging out with her human.
There is great power in just hanging out. For my readers, I hope this is an experience you have had. Sometimes, I just need to be with somebody. It doesn’t matter what we do, heck, we don’t even have to talk. Just to sit with someone, to breathe the same air, is an amazingly powerful thing to do. There was a scientist (I wish I could remember who) that would call on one of his friends, inviting them to be with him. They would sit, in silence, in a room until, eventually, he just got up, thanked his friend for coming over, and escort them out. It’s like recharging batteries using induction. You just sit with them, and recharge your soul.
This is what Star does with me. Sometimes she is with me for a purpose. She’ll sleep with me, but that’s just practical since it’s safer to sleep in a pack. And she’ll go to the bathroom with me as well, but friends watch each other’s backs while they’re indisposed, right?
I’m feeling very isolated here. I’ve not made any friends in Omaha yet, and don’t see the friends I do have often enough. I have a lot of friends who enjoy doing things with others, and that’s certainly great. I have friends who love playing games with their friends, those who enjoy going out for activities with their friends like biking or seeing the sites, and so much more. Certainly all of them are excellent, and I enjoy doing all of that kind of stuff, but sometimes, I also enjoy just hanging out.
But, of course, you can’t just hang out with anybody. Star’s first few nights were not spent with me. She didn’t know me well enough to trust sleeping in the same bed with me. It took time. You can’t just pick up a friend you’ve only known from that class you took that one time and just spend the day not doing anything. It takes a depth of friendship to be comfortable with those silences without feeling the need to fill them with, well, something. You have to be comfortable with yourself, and with your friend.
I guess we all have friends of all depths, from casual “oh, I recognize you” to those that are such an integral part of our life that we cannot imagine a world without them. And not all people are the kind of people who can just be without doing. All friends are special, and I wouldn’t want to lose any of them, but those with whom I think I could just be without doing are special. That’s a depth of friendship reserved for the deepest friends.
I don’t know what Star is thinking. Is she hanging out believing that I am here to protect her from predators as she sleeps? Does she think of me as just one of her “pride” (is that only lions?)? Does she have feelings for me, as animal behaviorists suggest dogs do? Or is it just instinct to not be alone? I can pretty much guarantee you one thing; this depth of thought is not something on which she dwells.