You may think of yourself as an old pair of shoes.
You can still be surprised by an old pair of shoes.
On the hinge of the year, we can all feel a little rusty. I have yet to find the metaphysical WD-40 to fix this, to make all the doors swing open in sweetness and ease.
But I have yet to meet a year that’s not made new by cats and courage. And fortunately, you and I are in possession of both.
(HA HA HA I MADE A FUNNY! The concept of a human “possessing” the most self-possessed species that hath ever trod the earth!)
We are no strangers to the newness of old things at Tabby’s Place.
Just when we think we know — fully know, really know, arrogantly know — a cat, along comes surprise.
Disco dottered through a half-decade like a living dumpling, only to be electrified by a move to the Lobby.
Jared jittered at every attempt at affection, only to be convinced by the late, luminous Bart that humans are huggable and friendship is fierce magic.
Zoya was a zealot for mayhem, only to melt into maple syrup in the presence of her preferred persons.
Grecca, all three grams of her, groaned under the weight of cancer, only to be healed and hallowed and given the mission to greet each day with shouts of acclamation and aggravation (“whither the bacon and pageantry?”).
Gulliver gulped the very verge of death, only to take life by the tail while living without a tail.
Shaggy shook off the shackles of self-pity, and invited us all on a Mystery Machine of measureless mirth.
Rashida made the rash decision to love life, every raindrop and red letter, ravishing the Lounge with glory.
Ponce de Leon lived into the valor of his name, crossing seas and continents of friendship and FeLV+, FIV+ positivity.
Houston‘s huge, honorable, hydrocephalic head was the ball about to drop, only to turn into a disco ball, dervishing onward beyond the veil. And everyone, everyone, everyone is invited to the party.
Cats fear no year, because they know how to stay surprising.
They find many things about us baffling — our insistence on making anything meatless when clearly the noble path is ever more meatful; our political gridlock; our strange dedication to wearing pants — but perhaps the most inscrutable is this: we repeatedly think we’re “done.”
Done astonishing ourselves and our friends and the weary years themselves.
But we’re not a meatless lasagna, and the oven isn’t about to go “ding.”
We’re dancing shoes, and the ball is about to drop, and the sun is about to rise. If only we’ll stay out of the locked-down, lock-tight schlock-boxes we think we need to feel safe, and stay open to surprise.
Who knows what 2023 will bring?
Who knows what we may yet learn about each other?
Maybe you’ll discover that your spouse of 57 years loves the Corn Huskers, or hates butter on his corn, or was the original drummer for Hüsker Dü. Maybe you’ll learn that your 21-year-old cat is a ninja for plastic green springs. Maybe you’ll find that you, yourself, are able to keep green things alive after a lifetime of lamenting your “black thumb.”
Maybe, none of us are under the thumb of old years.
Certainly, all of us have yet to meet many creatures we will love and be loved by.
Can you just begin to picture all those faces?
Can you wrap your head around the idea that, between now and New Year’s Eve 2023, we’ll make friends who will make our lives feel more like home?
Mark my words: there are cats and humans you will love in 365 days — love to the level of not being able to live without them — whose faces you’ve never even seen today.
All we have to do is be brave enough to celebrate the surprises.
Fortunately, courage is our birthright at Tabby’s Place, where everyone is always in the process of becoming new.
We have volunteers pushing 90 and pushing carts of stainless steel litter boxes like they’re feather pillows.
We have staff pushing the limits of heartbreak and hardiness, submitting their spirits to the tide of love for cats who will leave them (by adoption or otherwise), and leave them both bereft and better.
We have at least two species hurling themselves like thunderbolts into the storm that is Love. (The foolish mice who slip into the solariums have not filed their report.)
And on the hinge of a new year, the eye of this hurricane is winking at us all, crinkle-eyed with kindness.
So let the new and the old whirl. Let the earth’s axis twirl under our dancing feet. Let’s keep holding each other tightly. Years are not for sissies, but we’re made of sturdy stuff at Tabby’s Place.
The cats and I can’t wait to see how you’ll surprise us next. We promise to love you for it.
Happy New Year, kittens.
Pictured top to bottom: Sky, Zoya, Disco, Grecca, Gulliver, Rashida, Poncey Poncey Ponce the Child of Light