The empty suggestion box

The empty suggestion box

If we let it, strangeness can simplify us.

Good news: we’ve been given a bumper crop of strangeness.

Are you feeling a little stripped-down this siege of a season, my dears? We’re talking, of course, about “stripped” as in birch bark or honesty, not so much Magic Mike (although, hey, you do you).

It’s easy to tot ourselves up like Marie Antoinette when everything is ordinary and we need not pay attention to the world beneath. But when strangeness strikes (and won’t…stop…striking), we’re forced to look at ourselves and each other for so long it’s hard to keep up appearances, much less pretenses.

This is no time for feigned elegance or Teflon toughness. We’ve reached the stage of the pandemic at which I am literally brandishing pinwheels against my foes. The age has passed — if ever there was one — for highfalutin frippery and long fancy discourses where a hug or a yelp for help will do.

The day, the month and the year have come for the ways of one great tsunami of honesty. And surfing the crest is none other than one Hobo Rosenberg.

Hobo is a cat of ceaseless honesty. His history is as Tabby’s Place-typical as it is extraordinary: his adoring owner fell on terrible times; Hobo was hustled to a shelter; the old cat’s oldness and “issues” put him in danger; and a Wonderful Sequence Of Events(TM) led him to Tabby’s Place.

It’s nothing flashy. It’s nothing phenomenal. He’s neither a sea-traversing Cotton nor a death-defying Brenda.

He is simply himself. And his self, in all its vanilla splendor, has become the sage of the Lobby.

Oh, Olive will greet/assault you and Cotton will cotton onto you, sure; Twister will treat you with his tarantella and Rose will break your adorablemeter in her ribboned diapers.

But Hobo just might heal you.

With a quiet, grizzled purr that lounges and lopes your way, Hobo is the living epitome of whatever the opposite of “hurry” might be. He has no plans; he makes no predictions; he asks no specifics from you or Tabby’s Place or the Almighty.

He is simply open.
Ready to receive.

And in so living, Hobo gives us all we need to know in this season of uncertainty.

These days, I want to be as simple and as true as Hobo. Long, loquacious prayers have fallen away, and I find myself bereft of words and pleated pleas, just trusting in the sufficiency of “Help me. Help me. Help me. You know the details. You know what I mean even when I forget. And I completely forget.”

To quote national treasure Taylor Goldsmith, I’ve opted — or been pushed — into a posture like this:

So I feel like a man behind a camera
Who waits patiently for something he won’t see
I need to stop giving suggestions and just illuminate the questions
That seems much more accurate to me
To keep the frame as wide as it can be

Hobo knows, too.

It’s up to us to remember, and re-remember, and remind ourselves.

Let’s let a certain vagabond put us back together today, my fellow travelers on this strange sea. The shore is not in sight, but the crew is exquisitely kind, and sturdier than we ever realized.

No suggestions today. Just strangeness. Onward.

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