There’s no guarantee that a cat’s appearance – or a human’s, for that matter – will match his personality.
But every so often, there comes a perfect fit between cuteness and character. So it is with Harley.
We’ve only known this old boy for a couple of months, but I suspect Harley is the kind of cat who had to grow into his face. From his long whiskers to his Yoda-wise eyes and serious gaze, everything about Harley shouts I am a wise old man. Ask me what I have learned on this journey. Wax on, wax off.
It’s not a face that would fit Tashi or any other wild child. It’s not a demeanor to match just any cat personality. But for Harley, that sage face and gentle guru-esque nature are a perfect fit.
As befits his gentleness and wisdom, senior Harley made a seamless transition to Lobby life. It was unanimous that this should be his lot. While we don’t know much about his pre-Tabby’s Place journey, we do know that he had a family at some point, and they simply gave him up.
And that leads to a sad sort of wisdom no cat should ever have to learn.
But, amazingly, Harley doesn’t hold any of that against human beans. It’s water under the bridge to our long-haired philosopher, who patrols the lobby peacefully. In fact, if I had only one word for Harley, peaceful would be it. Pet him, and he’ll love it. Let him be, and he’ll doze or ponder just as contently. Surround Harley with cats – from aforementioned wild-child Tashi to placid Bellis – and he’s a happy cat. Give him the undivided attention of all human beans, and he’s equally calm.
But lest we think our senior sage is a one-note cat, there’s another, less expected feature of his nature…and, accordingly, of his appearance (more on that in a moment).
Of all the Community Cats, there’s only one who’s mastered a certain “impossible dream:” befriending Chance. To make a long, screaming story short, Chance is not sweet on his own species. (Happily, human beans are another story.) I have never heard any other creature make the universe-bending sound that comes from Chance’s mouth when any other cat gets too close.
Any other cat, that is, except Harley.
Inches apart, Chance and Harley are placid buddies. Whether parked at the door to the Sanctuary Operations Center Wet Food Jackpot or nesting on the couch, these two have gotten along from the very start. What is it about Harley that soothes our savage beast? If gentleness alone were the answer, Chance would be equally comfortable with Yasmine…but suffice to say that, um, he isn’t. (Universe-bending scream, anyone?)
There’s a healing Something about this old boy that’s balm to Chance’s rattled soul. Whatever it is, it’s working. Since Harley’s arrival in the Lobby, Chance – while still no fan of 99.9% of his own species – has grown in peace (and diminished in volume).
Could it be that the long-haired sage who knows too much about rejection was determined not to give up on his quirky, screaming new neighbor? Something about their friendship reminds me of L’Arche, the global network of communities where people with and without developmental disabilities share a life and bear witness to Love.
The founder of L’Arche, Jean Vanier, said:
“Every child, every person needs to know that they are a source of joy; every child, every person, needs to be celebrated. Only when all of our weaknesses are accepted as part of our humanity can our negative, broken self-images be transformed.”
Could this be equally true of cats? Could this be the deeper wisdom of Harley?
I promised that Harley’s surprising soulfulness found a mirror in a quirky feature of his appearance. Just like that deep, healing spirit, it’s something we’re liable to miss if we look past him too quickly.
It’s his back right foot. And it’s inexplicably, adorably snow-white.
Here’s hoping and praying that there’s a chance of an adoptive family for such a saintly old sage in his golden years. In the meantime, we will soak up all the wisdom and warmth we can from the Harley we adore.