Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pauses & Catnaps

At my age I have learned what brighter and younger people have grasped earlier, and what most people will never understand till death -- to pause for the right priorities in life.

This morning, I noticed that Cordell sitting inside the bathroom, silently waiting for me to finish washing my face. When I reached for the towel he stretched a paw to call my attention -- "How about some rubbing and stroking?" was his message.

I woke up early because I had to do some last-minute browsing of my emails, to see if some clients had sent in payments so I can add their eBay parcels for today's shipping. The packing that follows is usually fast-paced, hectic. But Cordell was looking expectantly at me. I know I can just pat his head and say, "Later," and he would not insist; he would just sit and look as I walked away. That is not acceptable. 

Am I so frivolous that I can take for granted chubby Cordell's dashing up the stairs to meet me when I emerge from the bedroom in the morning? As if I, one who doesn't believe or care about the afterlife, can afford to ignore the precious events this messy, earthly life provides. Money and business lost can be recovered, but interspecies communication is, indeed, priceless.

I bent down and rubbed his chin, eliciting some throaty Urkk-Urkks from him, which means something like "You're doing fine; I might promote you or give you a raise." Brisk rubbing is equivalent to sniffing catnip to Cordell. You cannot hurry the pace, you just share the time and affection until Cordell is satisfied. Then he walks away, expecting to see me tonight for another session.

Cordell, Maine Coon with a big, big heart.
Cordell likes me, and I can easily throw eBay and stamps to the winds for signs of affection from cats, who do not feign affection (They must be heeding Max Erhmann's admonition in Desiderata). Most of the high values I once expected from people I have earned from cats. You have to earn their trust because their instinct against falsehood and pretense is sharp. No amount of bribery or cajolery can make them approach if they don't like you. They are honest, they are regal -- as the Egyptians found out 4,000 years ago.

From kittens I have learned the value of play: "Let's have fun, thinking about money and bills only makes you grumpy."

One morning I found some stamps scattered all over my work room. Obviously, during the night, some of Mau's kittens managed to get to the folder where I kept some stamps for postage use. We picked them up from under the bed, from everywhere, and sorted them to see if some can still be used. Torn and heavily crumpled ones were tossed to the trash can; those missing one or two teeth were saved (they are not collectible anymore but can be used for mailing). I have to laugh when I saw one or two were Year of the Rat issues. "Kaya pala parang kinagat nang husto ito," I remarked.

Mau's cuties: Chomper of stamps

Sometimes I wonder about myself. I know I'm quick-tempered, super-meticulous with a high distrust level. Certainly not a pleasant person to strangers. But never have I been like that with our pets. "Oh, how adorable, you rummaged through my drawer and folders and scattered, chewed and torn many stamps, not discriminating between the high denominations and cheap ones. You had bundles of fun, I see, so you must be hungry now. Here, have some Iams." No scolding, no cussing, no hot-tempered me at all. This is something I still have to figure out about myself. Sometimes I like myself.

 I noticed that we like ourselves without doubt when we are happy. We are happy when we feel good about ourselves, perhaps because we have been good to others or have not been too harsh to ourselves. But how long does the happiness last? Lucky are those who can claim being happy for entire days, for many hours within the measure of a day, or even briefly every day. Dealing with cats, I have learned to think about happiness. That's a lot.

Bottom slats of the jalousies in the windows of our bedroom and kitchen have been detached to widen the space where the cats like to perch -- to bird-watch in the early morning and to catnap (what else to call it?) in the afternoon. I admire the cats' ability to stretch and relax fully. I read somewhere that fear is fostered by feeling of not having enough. "Look at Chester," I think as he curls up under the cool midday sun, "doesn't care about having a house bigger than of his peers; money is never a problem because he doesn't have any, doesn't care, anyway." I will learn to be fearless.

 Chester's catnap, peaceful mind: Priceless.

Sometimes they just sit all afternoon while I wonder if they are not bored at all. Then I think of the big errors we dumb humans fall into when making crucial life decisions. Having survived some of my biggest mistakes, I conclude that the alternative to boredom is seldom excitement; usually you get misery instead.

"It's better to be bored than be miserable," I have cautioned many young househelps who left us because life in our home is too quiet: no glamorous visitors, no young men to flirt with, no travels to beaches, just cats perched in the windows and kittens wrestling in play. Of course, you only get to appreciate the quiet life when your life gets messed up -- unplanned pregnancy, a shiftless spouse whose good looks you realize cannot even buy a can of milk or a pack of diapers for the baby. It's too late to go back to being bored: you have to find money to feed, bathe and clothe the baby; you have to wake up whenever the baby cries; you have to clean the house, cook meals, wash the dishes, do the laundry, iron the clothes -- without getting paid. You see a cat sleeping peacefully, and that's when you realize that some mistakes in life are irreversible. 

Cordell and the other cats can have a share of my time anytime or, to be precise, I hope the cats let me share their time.

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence... Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection... But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself... Strive to be happy. -- Max Ehrmann, 1927


Anonymous said...

cute naman ng mga pusa mo...I'm sure mga imported yan huh ... puwede bang makaarbor ng isa he he he ... mahilig din kasi ako sa pusa eh ... if pwede lang .. thanks...

William Pogi Chua said...

mga lumang pictures yan at nasa iba't ibang lugar na sila, Edgar, kaya remembrance na lang nila para sa akin ito... pero minsan nag-a-adopt kami ng pusakal at pag nagka-anak eh ibinibigay namin sa makapagbibigay ng mabuting buhay sa kanils. Antay ka lang, pag meron uli malalaman mo...

Anonymous said...

thank you william, pero kung pusakal din, huwag na lang. .. marami na din kaming ampong pusakal dito may manganganak pa he he he... gusto ko naman sana yung imported o may breed dahil wala pa kaming alagang ganun he he... lalo na yung ang kakapal ng fur , persian cat nga ba yun? okay lang... na lang. .. marami na din kaming ampong pusakal dito may manganganak pa he he he... gusto ko naman sana yung imported o may breed dahil wala pa kaming alagang ganun he he... lalo na yung ang kakapal ng fur , persian cat nga ba yun? okay lang... thanks...

Albert Shaffer said...

Great blog poost