When your season arrives, you know.
But until then, oh my stars, reality can be one ill-fitting suit.
I recently heard a wonderful turn of phrase: “reality-based reality.”
Ain’t that a kick in the pantaloons! While it’s easy to point fingers and pundits and op-eds at each other, in reality (sorry) I know and you know and Chef Boyardee himself knows that we all try to squiggle out of reality’s wrapper when it’s All Too Much.
Cats reliably exceed our grasp when it comes to wisdom and grace and general non-stupidity. But I’m afraid even the finest felines fall prey to running from reality.
Consider one Stella.
Named for stars and McCartneys and delightfully dunkable d’Oro cookies, Stella was a standout from the moment she fell from heaven. Alas for Stella, she had no intention of falling from her happy heaven, and by “heaven” I mean “free-roaming, freewheeling, free-loving colony of feral cats.”
But the star became a meteorite, and Stella sky-dove into one of our traps. The landing was not soft. No sooner was trapped-Stella — the combination of Stella-and-trap — loaded into brave Jess T’s car, than Stella found a way to become an exploding supernova. She ‘sploded right out of her trap, shooting stardust and terror all over the dashboard.
No cats, stars or Jesses were injured in the wild, worrying ride that ensued.
Stella was spayed, and so Stella was shuttled back to the free-roaming, freewheeling, neutered-loving colony of feral cats. The star was re-dangled from her sky, and she’d even learn to love the thread that held her up if necessary.
It was a reasonable reality.
It was not realistic that it would last.
Soon we got word that the cats needed to change universes. This is a difficult proposition under any circumstances, but relocating an entire star-cluster of Cats Who Don’t Want To Be Touched calls for intergalactic grit.
Part of the plan would involve catching a couple of stars as they fell from feraldom. Tabby’s Place would take the friendliest of the free-roamers. Pancake was known for puddling herself into purrs at her feeders’ feet, so she was an easy gold star; then there was Stella, who wasn’t so much friendly as she was friendly-with-Pancake, which would have to be good enough.
Our caged comets came “home” to Tabby’s Place, and the rage against reality began. Despite sun-sized warmth and waves of nebular niceness, Stella would not glow for our species. She cowered, she crankled, she clung to “her” “reality”: I am a feral cat. I AM A FERAL CAT. I am She Who Will Not Be Touched. I will not change. Change is not possible.
Here it’s worth quoting the aforementioned phrase-turner at length:
“Its ever easier to weave our own reality, to find a bubble and to reinforce what we believe with what we hear. We can invent our own rules, create our own theories, fabricate our own facts.” – Seth Godin
Pointing to her ear-tip and plunking herself behind her Pancake, Stella furiously wove her coat of false colors. But unbeknownst to our tabby trembler, beyond her power and ours, someone was picking out the stitches, reweaving each tiny thread into a starfield no one could imagine until it was real.
Stella let one human — “let the record show that it was just one!” — touch her. Love her. Touch her more.
Then another. “Two is just as few as one!”
Then others. Lonely stars, the furthest stars, became a gathering of glitter, and grace, and hope.
And then Stella was smitten with this thing called love.
“Reality” would have to give way.
As Seth says:
“It turns out, though, that when your reality is based on actual reality, its a lot more stable and resilient, because you don’t have to be so vigilant about what you’re going to filter out.”
My hat is off to the constellation of volunteers stubborn enough to love Stella in her love-me-not months. They saw the reality behind the fear, and they persevered, shining like the very light of the world, until it dawned on Stella, too.
Love is stubborn, and so is reality.
Really real reality, reality-based reality, will hold you, and me, and Stella. Let’s trust it, and each other, and the stubborn lovers, and the Starmaker, enough to twinkle us home.