What my cat and I thought we wanted [Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008, 6:21 pm]
Not only am I a novice cat owner, but I'm also very talented, because apparently I'm capable of accidentally letting my cat run out the door, and closing it, and not fully realizing it until 3 hours later. Yeah, who the heck loses a cat from a third-floor apartment? *raises hand* Me!
In my defense, he always makes a beeline for the door when it's open, and has escaped a few times. It's funny to watch him sauntering down the hall and ask "So, just what do you plan on doing when you reach the closed door at the end, Mr. I'm-so-cool kitty?"
But last night I was sitting around, and my roommate mentioned something about not seeing the cat lately - it was true - in the evenings he always hangs out with us, and that's when he seems to have the most energy as well. So I searched everywhere in the apartment that a cat could conceivably hide, and found nothing. It was then that it dawned on me what must have happened. I searched all the hallways, and by the door, and even by the bushes by the outside door with a flashlight, and he was nowhere to be found.
The thing about being in a building with so many places to go is that I had no idea where to start - did some compassionate person see him skulking around and take him in for the night? Did he get all the way outside when someone opened the door (not a hard thing for him) and take off toward another building?
So I put up a little sign by the front door, and was kinda bummed out, but Nick cheered me up a little by playing songs over the webcam :-D
I guess sometimes it's easy to ascribe more love to pets than they really possess. Perhaps his running to me every time I got home was simply an escape attempt rather than an expression of gladness at seeing me. Maybe he only rubbed his head against me because he had an itch. And perhaps he only followed me around when I got up in the morning because he was hungry and wanted food.
From experience with my family's cat, I knew deep down inside that cats always find their way home - but I still felt bad for him :-( It was a pretty cold night.
Fortunately, it ended well... I got a call at 7 a.m. this morning from some nice people in a first-floor apartment who saw him, and even got him in by the time I made it down there. His paws were covered in dirt (which tells me he probably hung out in the bushes all night), but he was fine. However, I've noticed something a little different in his behavior - he no longer makes a beeline to escape whenever I open the door. Now, this may simply be due to utter exhaustion, since I doubt he got much sleep last night. Perhaps he'll start up his old habit as soon as he's recovered.
Still, it got me thinking about how easy it is to want something. How easy it is to simply focus on that one thing and all the good it could do, and never see the disadvantages it would also bring - it's not that we don't make an effort to look at the "big picture"... sometimes we just aren't able to, because it isn't ours to see.
I've wanted many things before - the ability to attend a private college... maybe certain knowledge or skill that I just couldn't seem to develop... and yes, perhaps relationships with certain male people that I just couldn't build the way I wanted to. I may never know why I didn't get those things - but I realize that I've often behaved like my cat, and just tried to barrel ahead assuming things would just work out. We can never assume that. And I know that in most cases, it was simply the grace of God that caused me to NOT get the things I thought I wanted.
It's not that the things that I wanted are bad... many of them were somewhat noble in their own right, but they weren't what God had for me at the time. But I've seen situations among friends (more drastic than those of my kitty) who got exactly what they wanted, and it didn't make them happy. In fact, sometimes it can make one depressed to realize that what they'd put so much hope into wasn't some magical potion of contentment. I've experienced similar feelings in other situations myself...
The point is, it's hard to be thankful for the times that my beelines for the door have been blocked. But even though I'm foolish, and, like my cat, can only perceive the joys of freedom because I don't understand the pains that can come with it, I realize I need to be thankful for what I don't have - and believe that there's a very good reason for my not getting it right now.
Hopefully my cat will never have to spend another cold and wet night outside in unfamiliar territory - and perhaps if I listen, I won't either.
Vitality - Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009