We regularly discuss cats’ skill at being “in the moment.”
Where we fret and stew and itch and agitate about the past and the future and the if and the maybe, cats stretch out full-length in the “is” and the “here” and the “now.”
Admittedly, some cats are better at this than others.
Exhibit A: Hocus. Hocus is skilled at being in precisely one moment. That moment happens to be 4:00 PM Eastern time.
If it is 2:58 PM, Hocus is thinking about 4:00 PM.
If it is 3:22 PM, Hocus is steeling his soul, body and mind for the tens of minutes ahead.
If it is 3:47 PM, every muscle of Hocus’ body is yearning towards The Door From Whence Wet Food Emerges.
If — O mirabile dictu! Laus Deo! — it is 4:00 PM, Hocus is perfectly at peace, and his mouth is perfectly one with the fishy slop that dreams are made of.
If it is 4:02 PM, Hocus is digesting, and mourning. The Great Hour has passed. Who can be sure it will return? Dies irae.
But Hocus is an outlier in the cat community. Most cats, from kittens to crotcheties, are masters of minute-by-minute mirth. Whatever is happening right now is everything. There’s no use worrying about what will happen in the next election or the next hurricane or the next hour. There’s sound and color in this particular minute. How could anyone trade away the glowing thing that is a “now” for hazy hand-wringing over a vague “then?”
One thing gets in the way of this feline wisdom: fear.
And one thing is more beautiful than even wet food (sorry, Hocus): seeing a once-frightened cat claim her birthright as a master of the moment.
Recently, we’ve witnessed this unfurling in the uneasiest corner of Tabby’s Place. Our anachronistically-named Special Needs Suite has become the domain of worried little faces like Bubbles, and Bertie…and Kima.
When Kima first arrived at Tabby’s Place, two things were instantly apparent: (1) she was more beautiful than 10,000 crystal chandeliers, and (2) she was more frightened than a Democrat locked in an elevator with 10,000 Donald Trumps. Under the right circumstances, Kima would allow us to touch her. Inconveniently, the “right circumstances” happened to be “when Kima was unable to escape.” Unless we wanted to keep the poor cat in a hostage situation, we’d need to teach her to want our attention.
The Special Needs/’Specially Scared Suite was the right place for her education. In the company of cat fanciers like Sheldon and Paco, Kima was content. But bring in a big, hairless beast with opposable thumbs, and Kima’s moments went from precious to panicked. Immediately, the pastel tortie’s expression warped from “ommmmmm” to “FIRE IN THE HOLE!” When humans appeared, Kima’s moments shrunk so tight and tiny, she couldn’t escape.
We can rarely pinpoint the exact moment when a cat realizes that humans are (a) not going to consume her and (b) can be kind of fun, as long as you can stand the smell. In Kima’s case, it was gradual. First she let us pet her even when escape was available. Then, her eyes betrayed signs of actually enjoying the experience.
And this past week, Kima decided that this moment — every moment — was going to be OK after all.
Our staff recently introduced some enrichment activities to our cat suites (more on this in a future post). Some cats pounced right on the Enrichment Items. Others observed cautiously. And some stood by, waiting for those pesky people to slink away before it was safe to investigate.
Wouldn’t you know, Kima jumped into the first category?
Right before our very eyes, inches from our eager hands, Kima rolled with the toilet paper rolls, scootled down into the cardboard box, and made herself 50 shades of publicly, profusely happy. She didn’t mind that we saw it. She wanted us to see it — and to share it.
Right then. Right there. It was a moment in time.
Kima is claiming her moment. That moment happens to be every hour in every time zone.
Maybe we’re not really the ones educating our green-eyed goddess here. Maybe Kima’s several grades ahead of most of us when it comes to this moment-magic business.
And maybe we’re all still working on that secret of being content in all moments, all circumstances.
This much is clear: when we let go of fear, we’ll find our hands full of miracles and moments. When we really believe that we’re really OK — come what may — we can dare to be right here, right now, all in.
Take notes, Hocus. Take notes, all my amici. Your moment has come.