It’s my earnest hope that you’re finding inspiration in all manner of windows right now.
Me? I’m watching Pope Francis’ daily Mass and listening to terrible late-90s indie rock and suspending my “one Cherry Zero a day, you fiend” limit indefinitely. I’m hungrily reading stories of people being beautiful, like this and this and this and this. I’m eschewing the news (“ALL THE THINGS ARE BROKEN AND STAY TUNED BECAUSE IN EIGHT MINUTES THEY WILL BE BROKENER!”) for old episodes of Downton Abbey and new episodes of the squirrels outside my window.
And, now more than ever, I’m looking to the cats.
Your life and mine have changed a lot in recent weeks, it’s true. But I’m afraid Gogi and Twister have us beat in the having-to-adapt department. Since arriving on earth approximately one year ago, these fellas have…
- Lived under the sights and sounds and scares of life in Beirut
- Known and, in their own way, loved the selfsame Beirut
- Been swept off the familiar streets into a shelter
- Become best best BEST forever friends
- Encountered human love writ large
- Encountered scarier sights and sounds and scares all too close to their shelter
- Flown halfway around the globe to…New Jersey?!!
- Been plunked into the Tabby’s Place Lobby and the Tabby’s Place ridiculousness and the Tabby’s Place love
- Attempted to befriend fellow Lebanon expat Anka
- Survived it all
Not once has either of the boys complained about the decline in hummus quality since moving to Jersey. Not once has either lashed out (which is more than I can say for myself when ShopRite ran out of cauliflower rice; keep your toilet paper, give me my cruciferous nubbins).
Actually, not once has either of them ceased to exude wonder and delight. Chonky tuxedo Gogi and one-man dance party Twister have only one setting, and it’s “splendorous.” Life, in all its chaos, is gloriously interesting.
As unique as the Beirut bros may be — more on that in a moment — G and T are also fabulously normal for their species. I’ll marvel at it as long as I live, but cats reliably roll with the punches — even barbed, spiked punches. In the face of life’s lashes, they know only one thing: it goes on. And life, just by virtue of its onward motion, is good.
Maybe they don’t know any other attitude. Maybe their technically smaller brains are incapable of the sort of angst and agita and itching and agitating in which we excel. But I’ll choose feline flexibility over harrowing human howling any day.
We’ve not yet even discussed the most visible twist in Twister’s story. His legs are a sort of gnarled sculpture, the presumable product of a birth defect. He gets around with impressive speed, and he (astoundingly) uses his litter box, but he’s hampered in ways that would fell a lesser creature (e.g. me).
Just don’t tell him he’s “hampered,” or hindered, or anything other than the blessedest beastie that ever lived. He’s not hearing it. He’s here, and in this swiftly changing world, he doesn’t want to miss a minute.
As long as he gets to share it all with Gogi, of course.
And maybe that’s the great feline secret. (OK, they bear many secrets beyond telling. But we may be onto one.) Where there’s communion, there’s bliss — burly, unbreakable bliss. Every cat defines “communion” differently, but it’s the answer and the anchor in times like this. And, although these are the strangest days I’ve ever known, there’s a sense in which the times are always “times like this.”
Liable to leave you wobbly.
Out of our control.
We’re learning, over and over again, that we can roll and dance and twist through the tumult as long as we hold onto each other. In some cases, that will mean holding off on hugs and handshakes and visits. In all cases, it will mean listening longer and deeper and slower to the ones we’re given to love, be it via videoconference or in our kitchens. The world has insisted we all slow down here and now, and our salvation will be to take that as a gift.
We get to share this unprecedented age with one another, kittens. Not one of us is alone. And every time we bend and twist and give grace to one another, we get a little more adaptable, a little stronger, a little more linked in the communion that will save the world from coronavirus and far greater foes.
I don’t know what the days ahead will bring. But I pray from my gut that they will bring us together like never before. In an age of social distancing, let’s reject isolation and open ourselves up in frightening and wonderful ways.
Our lives are entangled and interwoven and twisted together like so many pipe cleaners. How deeply, truly lucky we are.