There’s an expression I keep hearing this summer: “You just do you.”
Or, turned around, “I gotta do me.”
Now, far be it from me to say that you should do anything that isn’t you. Heaven forbid.
But there’s something just a little lonely about all this doing.
Nobody does self-care quite like a cat. They will not go down with the ship. They will jump off and wave goodbye to the sad splashing captain to save their necks or dry their paws. Cats are perfectly content to put themselves first.
And yet, even the most iconic individuals, the true lone wolves, don’t “do” anything utterly alone.
Think about Faye. At no time in her Tabby’s Place tenure has Faye exhibited one milligram of respect, affection or affinity for one cat other than Faye. As best I can tell, Faye regards the other cats the way you or I might regard a stink bug. We’re generally OK with letting them live — we’re compassionate that way, good people that we are — but we really hope they’ll fly out the open window and not return, ever. And, in our weaker moments, we’ve been known to flush them down the toilet.
So it is with Faye and her roommates. And yet, Faye — Faye the superior, Faye the imperious, Faye the uncontested queen — is seldom more than five feet from another cat.
Don’t tell me this is just coincidence, just a case of wanting to be in the solarium more than she wants her solitude. Faye could easily find a corner of sunshine free of stink bugs like Carrot and Spumoni. Yet Faye — “doing Faye” all the way — consciously chooses to extend full-stretch between Carrot and Spumoni and Sam and Steven and Chelsea and Cypress.
Faye is doing her thing, no doubt. Faye would not cease aforementioned thing if, say, Steven asked her to.
But Faye knows on some level that there’s no Faye, no true Faye, without her community.
Faye’s not cutting ties, not even with the stink bugs.
As y’all know, our species is far inferior to cats when it comes to both intellect and intuition. So we stupidly assume that, in order to be true to ourselves, we have to go it alone, make a splash, break away from the obligations and irritations of others. Being accountable makes us squirm.
And so we say, “I gotta do me.” And we find ourselves sinking in the shallows.
But maybe there’s a way to have it all: you and me and the “us” that comes from coming together.
Maybe, say, you want to learn more about Confucianism or yacht rock or that stinky flower making news in Manhattan. Maybe nobody you know wants to join your journey. You sure as heck don’t want to come aboard their quests to grow heirloom eggplant or sell artisanal beard wax.
But what if we come alongside anyway?
I can rock on your yacht and open my ears and heart to the meaning of your music.
You can listen to my stories and hear something more than the pattern you’ve perceived.
Maybe compromise is truer than iconoclasm.
Maybe cooperation wins over competition.
Maybe we’re dealing in “both” and “and” rather than “either” or “or.”
Maybe this is the summer not of “you” or “me” or “Faye”, but of us. Maybe this is the moment we can show this shouting, divisive world that we are, in fact, in it together.
Maybe this community of kindness — the human solarium, if you will — is bigger than we give it credit for.