Categories
General Musings

courage

Several weeks ago, Casey and I were on the couch in the living room, winding down for the evening as we so often do with a drink and a selection of short clips on YouTube. While we mainly stick to clips from various late night shows and commentators on the news, we do occasionally find something else that looks interesting or funny enough to watch. 

 On the evening in question, a video about the different sounds cats make popped up and while I honestly don’t remember what prompted us to watch it, we did. 

Heimdall (these days his name has been warped into Memers) was on the couch with us and as the video went on, I noticed him move. He did so gradually, rising from where he had been settled with Casey, and slowly, slowly made his way across Casey’s lap, headed towards the edge of the couch closest to the stairs. As he moved, his gaze was locked onto the wall-mounted television. 

Then the video ended and in a blur of motion with the sound of scrabbling claws on the floor as he tried and largely failed to gain purchase on the hardwood flooring, he was gone, puffy-tailed and obviously freaked out. 

We laughed. Of course we did. Both because of the suddenness of it and because Memers is still pretty small and because our interpretation of events was that he had just seen some kind of giant monster-cat who was somehow perched above the whole room and who had recently been saying something that was perhaps in some way menacing or untoward. 

Immediately after laughing, I felt a little bad, but figured that he would soon be over it since nothing ever seems to keep his adventurous spirit down for long. 

It being late, we turned off the television and began to go through the stages of our bedtime routine. It was then that I noticed Talisker on the landing of the stairs, crouched low and half hidden around the bend of the stairs. He had caught Memers’ terror and I immediately felt far worse for him than I had for Memers, since Tal is nothing if not perpetually jumpy. We often wonder what happened to him in his early life to make him so wary and the caution that we noticed in him so early on has not left him in the 18 months we’ve had him. I don’t think it ever will. 

I’ve learned, over time, that Tal does not find it soothing to have human contact on any terms that are not his own, so I simply sat on the other couch, where I could watch him as he crouched on the stairs, obviously torn between his fear of whatever had just taken place downstairs and his desire to come down and take advantage of the fact that part of the bedtime routine is feeding the cats and Casey was even then refiling their bowls. 

For his part, Memes was hiding behind the other couch, between it and the wall, giving me a clue just how spooked he was. Memers is nothing if not a little pigger come feeding time.

Because I somehow ended up being the one to completely fall in love with these two cats, I delayed going to bed for a while, even as Casey concluded filling their bowls and headed upstairs to brush his teeth. Talisker disappeared for a while, running away when Casey started up the stairs, clearly convinced that he was the motivation of a human heading in his general direction. 

I called him, pointlessly, because he never comes when called unless he can see you have a special treat for him. 

Memes continued to hide behind the couch, only his face barely visible, his entire posture somehow expressive of his readiness to retreat further, should any giant demon cats emerge from nowhere. 

Eventually, Tal had gotten so brave as to make it down to the penultimate step before hitting the main floor. He paused for a long while, grandly ignoring me as I made small coaxing noises. With aching slowness, one paw touched the ground and then another, both back paws remaining on the step while he ascertained what he could of the room. 

And then? Then my sweet little Tal Tal, who so often seems afraid of his own shadow, crept into the living room. He circled to the left, still ignoring me, but craning to get a good look at the rest of the couch I was sitting on. No demon cats there. 

Staying low, he continued past me, scoping out the various new angles of the room as they came to him. Nothing under the coffee table. Nothing on the coffee table. There was a long hesitation as he tried to see the top of a tall cabinet that sits underneath the television, but he kept going until he had circled around the coffee table and back to where I was. 

I understood as he made this circuit that he was simply gathering information for himself. Was the room safe? Was he safe? 

He seemed a bit more relaxed as he came back to where I was sitting, and didn’t bolt when I moved to scoop him up. From my arms, I showed him the top of the tall cabinet and then took him past the stairs and into the kitchen, where we circled the island and then I put him back down. 

No demon cats here, buddy. It’s safe. You’re safe. 

I sat back down on the couch, watching as Tal went to where Memes was still hiding behind the couch. They sniffed at each other cautiously, they way they sometimes do, when there’s apparently some need to verify on an olfactory level that their eyes don’t deceive them and that other cat is who it appears to be. 

I told Casey all about it and I am telling the story here, because I was so moved by it. Living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, as I do, I have often said that if I were a cat, I would be Tal – or that if he were a person, he would be me. He gets scared and runs to hide whenever he hears someone coming down the stairs (even though it’s always just me or Casey) in the same nonsensical way I get scared of trying a new food (even though I have never shown signs of having any allergies to anything other than pollen in my entire life). 

To see him confront the danger of the unknown in such a practical way was another kind of parallel. I often badger Casey to Google things on my behalf (hypochondriacs shouldn’t look up medical information on the internet, I’ve found), and it’s for exactly the same reason. I need to understand the lay of the land and have information so I can have some assurances I am safe. I need to clear my mind of my own demon cat fears. 

And I think there was good lesson in there for Casey, as well. It doubtless seems ridiculous to him that I am, in Talisker terms, afraid of him coming down the stairs, even though every time I run and hide it’s always for no reason at all. 

“I can’t control this,” I told him. “But I can be brave, like Tal was brave, and I can seek out information until I feel like I know enough to feel safe.” 

Just because something doesn’t appear to be brave doesn’t mean that it isn’t.

Just because someone doesn’t appear to be brave, doesn’t mean that they aren’t. You never know when something that may seem ridiculous to you is, in fact, something that requires great courage on the part of the person – or cat – doing it. 

Categories
General Musings Home Improvement

stuff i did when i wasn’t here

  • Watched a stupid amount of stuff on Netflix and Prime. Like, so much stuff. I still haven’t watched all of the first season of Stranger Things, however; nor Game of Thrones. I have no plans to change that state of affairs any time soon. #poser
  • Graduated with a BS in Business Management. It took me just over 11 months to complete the 79 credit hours I needed. #braggart
  • Thought about starting an MS program. Subsequently failed to start a MS program. I think I may still be burnt out, although I seem to be making a recovery in recent weeks and wanting to go out and learn stuff on purpose. #tired
  • Got promoted. Twice. Which means I finally successfully tricked people into thinking I would be good at people leading. It’s been more than a year that I have been leading my teams, and they haven’t fired me, so I guess I have that going for me. #braggart #again
  • Went back to Scotland for two weeks. Visited Edinburgh, Glasgow, Islay (where we waved to Jura, but didn’t make the ferry across due to poor planning), Oban, Skye and then a few areas around Inverness before heading back to Edinburgh, the airport and home. Visited more distilleries on this trip than I can properly remember, enjoyed another gorgeous and meaningful day at my spiritual center of Neist Point, went to church in Inverness and met some amazing people both there and at Oban who spoke life to me. I still want to move there. We’re still working on it. #wistfulAF
  • Helped to build a deck. Not just a regular deck mind you. Someone recently referred to it in my hearing as the “Titanic of decks, except it won’t sink.” (only partly because we live in a desert) I got to play with a flame thrower and get a jump on my 2020 goal of doing scary things, like climbing shaky ladders and operating power tools on said shaky ladders[1. Probably, they were not really all that shaky, but I have never loved man-made heights. Or power tools.]. I will get to keep helping with this in 2020, since we still have so much to do but at least got the roof on before the snows started falling. #JustProudIGuess
  • Got a new kitten following the sad loss of Loki earlier in the year. He’s the sweetest and the cutest kitten I’ve ever met and we named him Heimdall. Thor is not a fan. Yet. #HeartEyes
  • Also went back a week later and got Heimdall’s brother. He is wary and watchful and a beautiful smokey grey. So we broke with our Marvel-themed naming tradition and called him Talisker. #MoarHeartEyes

  • Had countless lunches and dinners with friends and people I thought I might like to get to know better over table. I was not wrong. #Communion
  • Speaking of Communion, got to practice public speaking at my church a time or two. Monopolized the time to assert my deep belief that everyone is welcome at Jesus’ table because #LoveWins and #legalismsucks
  • Got to visit one of my friends after she moved to Southern California to get a job with Disney Animation and to tour her workplace! She is so smart and so damn gifted and I am pleased as all hell to get to cheer when I see her name go by on the credits in films (most recently, Frozen 2). #WomenInSTEM
  • Read several books. Would like to claim a lot, but I really did take a break from life for an extended period of time there, and am just working on getting back into it. I am doing my level-best to make up for lost time though. #literarynerd

Probably a lot of other minutia as well, but I think that is the highlight reel. What have you done recently that makes you excite or passionate?