Summertime, and the living is easy.
Except when, where, and how it isn’t. And that’s quite alright.
Poor, sweet summertime. It’s always expected to carry a monumental load on its sunblock-shined shoulders. We hurdle towards it, hurling overstuffed luggage of winter baggage, demanding that one warm season cure us of all that ever chilled our bones.
Summer 2021 is burdened before it’s even been born. After all, this one is The Summer After.
The Summer Of Seeing Smiles.
The Summer Of Overdue Hugs.
The Summer Of All Things Old Reborn As New.
The Summer When Everything Is Easy And Okay Again.
Being humans, we are incurable simpletons, and so we tend to pin our final fantastic hopes on summers and someones and somedays. And while many hard things really do un-happen or unclench their fists or surrender to a bigger happy, hard things will always be with us. Most poignantly: ourselves.
No, we can’t count on summer — not even this roaring summer — to finally settle our beaten-egg hearts.
We can, however, count on N.A.P.s.
Naps, too. But N.A.P.s are more lasting and powerful and capable of changing the entire world, or at least the afternoon, if we’ll let them.
A bit of de-acronymization is in order.
The concept of the N.A.P. was presented to me by a sensitive professor. He taught econ and proffered focaccia and let us all collapse in his office as needed, even playing David Bowie to salve our ills. But most importantly, he introduced us to a concept more reliable than the yield curve.
In the heat of finals week, Dr. Stardust, as we shall call him, gave me the following advice: when your friends are all freaking out, stressed and sleepless and straining at sanity’s furthest strings, you can give them a priceless gift. Your words and your reassurances may be powerless. But you always have the power to be a Non-Anxious Presence. Don’t dare underestimate the ministry of the Non-Anxious Presence.
He was right.
I have a feeling he had cats.
Cats in general are natural-born N.A.P.s., waking or sleeping. But even among the numerous Nobel Prizeworthy N.A.P.s of Tabby’s Place, certain luminaries soothe forth stars from every whisker.
I am speaking today of one Boobalah Rosenberg.
The very existence of Boobalah Rosenberg is more soothing than six thousand summers. Future generations may discover that Boobalah Rosenberg was the reason our species survived the pandemic. But for maximum anxiety-smashing, soul-reconstructing effect, one must place oneself in the powerful presence of Boobalah Rosenberg.
Orblike and candy-striped, Boobalah is a circle of quiet in a world of yelling. She is the infinity sign, the yin and the yang, the unblemished orange of righteous roundness. She is fullness and fun, placid merriment among the mad.
She is also incontinent, carrying cardiac issues everywhere she goes, diapered and dinged and unlikely to be the first one chosen for dodgeball. She is not the first cat you’ll notice in the Lobby (that would be Grecca), nor the most post-Impressionist-painterly-perfect (hello, Cotton), nor even the head of the heartstring-tuggers (oh, Soh-phiiia mia!).
She is, however, the least anxious.
The most peace-full.
And perhaps the single most powerful cat in all the realms of Ringoes, New Jersey. This is, as you know, saying quite a lot. (Potential new Tabby’s Place tagline: “One hundred wonderbeasts of invincible power. Also twelve humans.”)
Just to beach yourself beside a Boobalah is to be changed. Never underestimate the ministry of a non-anxious presence; never underestimate rebellious serenity; never underestimate the effect it will have on your own hummingbird heart to bask in such a gentle sun.
Never forget that you — yes, you — can be the Boobalah to the bumbling beautiful hearts around you.
So take a N.A.P. as needed. Be the N.A.P. for somebody else. And let’s love summer for all it’s worth, from dawn ’til serious moonlight.