Despite the fact that they’ve successfully taken over the internet, cats are Luddites at heart.
Don’t believe me? Well, have you ever read a single tweet by President Olive Rosenberg?
(You know and I know it’s not because she doesn’t think her opinions are worth sharing.)
Cats are social, hold the media. They’ll rub their faces all over your book and keyboard, but they need no Messenger. And although they are the centerpiece of Instagram (#catsofinstagram! #oldcatsofinstagram! #ancient_decrepit_awesome_catsofinstagram!), they would greatly prefer that you behold and kiss and swoon over their actual, tangible faces.
As the word “reentry” gets bandied about, I’m reminding myself of some of the best default advice in any situation: be a cat.
Here’s the thing. This season of pestilence and separation has been horrible in one hundred thousand ways. This is beyond debate. We are missing hugs and heart-to-hearts, livelihoods and lives, church and Trolls World Tour on the big screen and birthdays and graduations and the blissful bland normalcy of life together. It is a loss, an ache and a gasping hole of hurt.
But sometimes it feels OK.
Sometimes the in-between feels so normal, the old (new?) normal looks frightening.
I suspect this is especially true for introverts like me, who are simultaneously (a) getting tired of having quite so much opportunity to feed our inner verts and (b) finding this cocoony, sequestered, Rapunzel-in-the-tower life kind of comfortable.
It is an open secret among writers that, although we can be chatty and chummy and love you to pieces through our words, we are very often awkward and anxious and bumbling when it comes to Actual Human Interaction. Ask me my thoughts via email, I’ll type you a tome; stop by my office unexpectedly, and I’m more likely to say “Blurgleforp? Me?”
For many of us, social media has been a blessing and…well, if not quite a curse, at least an enabler when it comes to hiding.
Cats will countenance no such enabling.
No coincidence, then, that cats will be our counselors as we come back out of our turrets and towers and blanket forts.
If reentry means a day of too much talking for your hermitized head, turn to Simon. He’ll snuggle you in peaceful silence, unless you bear Doritos, in which case he will yell his head off. Still, that’s not exactly small talk (it is, Simon will assure you, very LARGE and heavy important talk, on the scale of thermonuclear war).
If emergence means the fear of judgment, lean on Louie. He is both large enough for your leaning and loving enough to remind you that you are enough, entirely enough, even when “Blurgleforp” is your most articulate statement.
And if the very thought of wearing Real Pants, engaging in real conflict, and facing real hordes of humanity has you feeling small and humble, take heart with Hamsa. Pure in heart and poor in spirit, she was adopted in all her shyness and awkward excellence. You, too, will be readopted by the world as you take those steps back into the sunlight.
We’re going to make it, kittens. The return to the unmediated world of messy relationships and face-to-face friendships is coming — hallelujah, truly — and our hearts will grow back to their full size, perhaps even larger and more luminous for the season of strangeness.
And once we’re back in the swing of things — whatever things will look like when they swing us over their shoulder again — we can all tweet or text or write long, meaningful letters about it.
Here’s to life, terrifying and unmediated and glorious beyond all description.