Beauty isn’t enough.
Sweetness isn’t enough.
But Octavia, sure as velour, is enough.
You would be forgiven if you declared Octavia “the most adoptable cat at Tabby’s Place.” You would be inherently wrong, since adoptability is a greater mystery than consciousness. But your declaration would be understandable.
Octavia is one of the most beautiful creatures ever to walk this earth, in ways that transcend her pastel swirls. She is the entire Impressionism wing of a museum. Sweeter than a marshmallow treat, more self-giving than a sailboat full of saints, Octavia lives to love. This is a cat so bent on bringing joy, I’m convinced she willed herself to be so soft simply because she knew we’d love the feel of her fur. She is velvet in texture and in soul-texture; she is kindness on four feet; she is beauty and sweetness.
She is also overlooked, day after stretching day, by adopters who deem her Too Old.
Before we pounce on these poor souls (and don’t worry, we will), let’s seek to understand them. Octavia is already seven, nearly an octave into life on this earth. She’s not quite ready for the rocking chair, but she’s got a sweet spot for Neil Diamond, she buys Werther’s Originals in bulk, and she does not know any of the words to Old Town Road.* She spent a suspiciously long time moseying about as a stray. Some might say she wasted the best years of her life just loitering about.
We’ve heard those voices too, haven’t we? They come in different tones at different times, shouts or sing-song voices, but they come for us all. The message is always the same: Hurry up and be worthy. Time is running out. You don’t have forever to figure it out. Make something of yourself.
The voices came for me most madly when I was in college and grad school. I hung out with well-meaning weirdos and maddening mentors who filled my arms with books with names like — I swear I am not making this up — Do Hard Things and Don’t Waste Your Life. I was to be merciless with myself, making every hour matter, hustling hard for a worth that wavered and wobbled in the humid distance.
It was all a mirage.
The messages from the books and the weirdos was very ancient indeed. But, thank God, there was an older, deeper magic and a truer truth. Friends with velvet souls broke through, filling my arms with hugs and velour blankets and cats and books with names like — I swear I am not making this up — The Life of the Beloved and Confessions. I had to learn to slow down, to loiter, to breathe, to trust the slow certainty of good things growing by grace and not by hustle.
I might be overlooked. I might, before long, be Too Old for certain things. But if that should be the case, those were not my lookers or my things in the first place.
I couldn’t waste my life if I tried, and the hardest work of my lifetime would be to be what I was.
If only I could have consulted Octavia sooner.
Let’s all lean into some calico wisdom today, kittens. You are beautiful and sweet, and you are endlessly enough. Your road is fogged with mystery, I know, but your time is not running out. Run wild, run true, and never lose your peace. There’s no need to make something of yourself when you’ve already been made marvelous.
*We will remedy this particular detail. By the end of the summer, Octavia will, in fact, ride ’til she can’t no more.