When I left my 23 year marriage I felt like an elastic band that had been pulled too tight and suddenly the pressure was gone and I was left limp and empty and shapeless. It took quite a while to get accustomed to that loosey goosey feeling and only slightly longer to love it.
Then one day I was browsing around a home décor store on my lunch break and found this:
It’s not a great piece of art, it isn’t breathtakingly beautiful and may possibly be a little tacky. But one thing it has going for it is the feeling it gives off. A cat only assumes this pose when it’s completely relaxed and lazy and probably only half way through one of its numerous naps on any given day. And I wanted it. No…..I needed it. That feeling. That “I don’t give a fuck and I’m going for a nap” feeling.
I had been wound up like a spring for my entire life; doing everything possible to please the people around me, to be accepted, to earn their respect, to mean something to anyone.
I needed to empty all the crap that was piled up inside and instead fill it with beautiful things, happy things. And while I was standing there, staring at this cat statue, I started to feel exactly what I wanted to feel like for the rest of my life. I paid for the statue without even knowing the price.
We all know that cats don’t give a shit what people think of them. They don’t try to please, or meet expectations, or worry about their weight. They may be the only “Go Fuck Yourself” species on the planet; or at a bare minimum, in the top three and I needed to learn how to do that. Luckily, at the time, I happened to own a cat, Maggie, who hated everyone…..except me; she loved me completely and was more loyal than any dog ever. And I learned a ton from her:
- Don’t hide your feelings. If you are pissed off….show it…..and hiss if you feel the need. People respect a hiss much more than the stink eye and the combination of both into a Stinky Hiss is pure gold in getting people to leave you the hell alone.
- Hide your toys in various places throughout the house, not in one central location. This really makes sense if you get robbed frequently, but also because people will buy you more things you love as soon as they think you are running low. Like chocolate bars. Right Viking?
- Nap. Whenever you feel like it. And when you do, do it with absolute abandon. Drape yourself over whatever happens to be handy, stretch out, show your arm pits and your belly. It makes people smile.
- Sing loudly. Especially if it’s the Blues. It alleviates sadness, it has great rhythm, and it informs everyone exactly what your problem is. They may not be able to fix the problem but at least they don’t need to guess.
- Stretch. Because it feels a.m.a.z.i.n.g!
- Never do tricks for treats. Ever.
- Walk away if someone is boring you. Life is short, don’t waste it listening to crap.
- Greet your favorite people with ecstatic joy.
- Play with everything and anything. There is joy in the smallest of things; even a piece of lint you found under the refrigerator.
- Slap things or knock shit off things. It feels great to physically show your contempt for a situation/comment. Most times you don’t actually have to say a word; just look at the thing you knocked on the floor then back to your tormenter and walk away.
- Hide under things, especially planty things. The view is weirdly amazing and you have the option to grab people’s legs as they go past.
- Demand affection. Don’t just hope for affection. Demand it. People are surprised and usually comply. Right Viking?
- Give gifts. The person may not enjoy the gift (like a dead mouse) but they will appreciate the thoughtfulness.
- BONUS: Protect your property. If you get into a fight, scream loudly and The Viking will run to the rescue.
The Viking eventually found Maggie and me. Oddly, Maggie loved him within 13 seconds; he was the only man who walked into our home that didn’t receive the Stinky Hiss.
I haven’t mastered all of the lessons she taught me yet. Okay, I haven’t mastered any of them but the point is I’m still trying. Never give up.
I have managed to appreciate the joy in life though. All the crap I threw away from my old life has been replaced with awesome things and I no longer feel empty and alone. The Viking saved me. And then I saved The Viking. The universe is funny that way. All those years I was alone and sad and struggling, The Viking was on the other side of the planet alone and sad and struggling, too.
Now, if we could only win the lottery!