I have good news and bad news.
You’re never actually done.
Neither is Sturgeon. But that’s just one of many excellent qualities you share with this big fish.
We do a lot of rushing around, you and me. (This is not a quality we share with this big fish.)
Things need to be folded, or unfolded, or put away, or taken out, or cleaned, or fed, or written, or tucked in, or tied down.
If we let things pile too high, they will glower at us like dinosaurs and be so damningly undone, we will crumble beneath their weight.
We have to take care of all the caretaking so it doesn’t take us over.
We have to get the errands done.
We have to get the assignments done.
We have to get the projects — algebra or Development Directing or leading the free world or keeping one’s offspring from annihilating one another — done.
We rush and rampage to get done, done, done, so that some brave day, we will finally be done with all the doings and able to really, righteously, rest.
Except, we’re never done.
Just when you think all the bows are tied, and at last you can stop pruning the garden and actually smell the flowers, or at least sit in bed with your pint of ice cream and watch X-Files reruns for the rest of your mortal days, along come more things.
More loose ends.
For sanity’s sake, we’d better start seeing those untied wisps as whiskers rather than weights.
Fortunately, we are rich in mentors. All around us are creatures — wiser and more serene than we — who are in no hurry. They do not stress the undones and the tyrannical piles. They do not rage against the to-dos that dart into view the moment they think they’re “done.”
They know they’re never done.
Such is the dance.
And such is the sterling specialty of one Sturgeon Rosenberg.
If ever a cat could have claimed to be done — done with the hard times, done with the duties, done with everything except utter ultimate ease — it would be this beefy, beatific beast. Together with sixteen of his kinsfolk — no, I am not making this up — Sturgeon arrived at Tabby’s Place on the happier end of a hardscrabble tale. The brigade of black cats had all been working full-time to find food and some measure of peace outdoors, when all of a sudden even their scant security was snatched away. A property owner without a heart for cats said, “Begone, ye wayward lot!” (I believe these were his actual words), and so Sturge and The Sixteen were suddenly “done” in the worst way.
Except, they weren’t.
Tabby’s Place exists for the ones whose tales seem done, and so seventeen sturdy strangers came swimming our way, with a super-sized Sturgeon in the captain’s seat.
If Sturgeon were a dude of the human sort, his nickname might be “Meat.” If Sturgeon were an actual sea captain, he would always go by Cap’n. And if Sturgeon were a surgeon, he would need to be extremely careful, what with those massive meat-mitts of his, but I digress.
Sturgeon, however, was a cat, and a cat whose chores seemed blissfully finished. With hard times and hard work in his wake, this was the season for serenity, and ice cream, and a choreless open calendar.
Except Sturgeon wasn’t done.
The stalwart seaman’s smallest relative was one Ramekin Rosenberg, approximately the size of a paper clip, and twice as fragile. Ramekin prevailed over a nasty neck wound only to crash into catastrophic anemia. The littlest cup of cheer would need a blood transfusion if he was to survive.
Fortunately, he had an uncle — father? grandfather? great-uncle? (Sturgeon ain’t speakin’)
— with an urge to serve. Sturgeon was a perfect match for his micro-manchild (let the record show I believe Ramekin is Sturgeon’s son, based on absolutely nothing except my own sentimentality). And so the hard-working cap’n was back to work, literally giving his life blood for his little bud.
He wasn’t done.
He never will be, not as long as there’s breath in his gills and a twinkle in his eye.
And that’s a good thing.
Maybe it’s also the kind of thing that can give us courage when the Things we have to do seem endless. No sooner do we have everything aligned than a strong tide called Tomorrow rolls our way and rocks it all higgledypiggledy. Our efforts are ephemeral; our “finito” is for the moment only. Our rest is a way-station between worlds of work…and wonder, and purpose, and the fire that finds our bellies even when all we want is ice cream in bed.
But if we can borrow even a whisker of catlike calm, we can surrender to the rhythm…and find ourselves more powerful than ever before.
Our work will never be done. Our sigh of relief will always come between songs. But the pause will be plenty, and tomorrow’s work will wake us up, give us life, drain us dry and tickle us to do it all over again.
As long as we’re alive, there will be things to do, so we’d better kindle an urge to Sturge.
Let’s look for the places our life blood can be life-giving.
Let’s sing while we set up the pins we know will soon be knocked down.
Let’s enjoy the frenzy and the ice cream and the sweet melty absurdity of it all.
And let’s keep following the Cap’n.