In this distanced, digital time, scrolling can help.
Scrolling can also hurt.
But strolling — strolling is always a good idea.
As your cats and my cats and the streetlights can attest, a lot of us have spent an inordinate amount of time scrolling social media these days and (late, late) nights.
Let the record show that I will never knock these complicated bodiless “places” where we meet across time and space; I think great good can come from our broadband togetherness, the memes and mirth and startling vulnerability that bring us together when we’re apart. I’ve been known to take colossal comfort in scrolling through soaring quotations and photographs of cathedrals and the ordinariness of my friends’ luminous lives.
But sometimes the scrolling takes a sharp turn south.
Enough ink has been spilled on the dark power of social media to amp up our “compare and despair” tendencies. I’m not going there today. My concern — and, to judge from her perpetually worried eyes, the concern of my cat Pippa (Tabby’s Place alumna, class of 2007) — is the way all this scrolling can simply slam us with “stuff.”
Do you ever feel a dash of depression — maybe more than a dash — after scrolling and rolling through piles of posts about even the loveliest things? Like your brain is suddenly a little dab of wet cat food beneath Anka‘s mighty paw?
Me too. Maybe we’re simply not meant to chew this much “content” this quickly. In the space of two minutes, I can learn about the irises in my great-aunt’s yard, Andrea Bocelli’s Easter gift, the death of dear John Prine, the fact that Office Depot still has toilet paper, and the daily infection rates in Omaha. It’s not that I don’t care about all of these things; it’s that I’m naturally prone to care too much, all the time. And so I scroll, and I ‘splode.
Scrolling is not always safe or sane, kittens.
But there’s another form of exercise, one more likely to soothe our overstuffed souls than to pack them with even more pimentos. I’m talking about strolling, preferably with cats.
As these photos reveal, the on-site Tabby’s Place staff, lean and stalwart, have been saving their sanity and blessing our beasties with frequent stroller walks. Even just ambling around the building has a near-miraculous effect on everyone involved. There’s air out there, and blooming buzzing things that are wildly alive, and sounds and sights that have nothing to do with COVID-19 or the experimental music in our heads.
Out there, you can be alone with your prayers and your wonderings (and, if you’re lucky to have a stroller, your cats) while somehow feeling less alone than before. The sun or spitty rain on your face, the air you can actually feel moving through your lungs, the health and strength that are still with you, can all remind you of the glory of just being here, even now, especially now.
So many of us have marveled at the providence that this pandemic hit us here in the northern hemisphere on the brink of spring. They may not save the world, but hyacinths and lengthening days and pink supermoons can cup us in their warm hands and deliver the comfort we need for another morning.
So don’t stop scrolling, dear ones — after all, how else will you find photos of cats sticking out their tongues, and your great-aunt sticking out her tongue, and ordinary extraordinary people dancing and dreaming and recovering? — but stretch your legs to stroll just a bit, too. You were not meant to know and to bear and to feel it all; the never-ending, heart-rending newsfeed will wait.