I live with cats. Yes…more than one. I have learned a lot about myself as I have watched and cared for them over the years. Lately, a couple of them have been trying to show me a BIG lesson that seems apropos of our time.
One of the two is a female; a lovely gray tabby who is 14 years old. Piper is very happy to just be alone and prefers to not be bothered by any person or any other cat. I suppose at her age, she deserves to have what she wants!
The other is a male; a tuxedo who is about 6 years old and who sees himself as the alpha in the crew. Alone, Doc is very sweet, and enjoys a light tummy rub, when he is lying down napping. Around Piper or others, he is the BIG guy – the one in charge.
The few common denominators between them, aside from the obvious – they like me and they like to eat and sleep. And that is about where it ends.
As I have continued to watch them, I’ve learned a few things.
One – Both are very good, sweet-natured cats. They are healthy and are otherwise well-behaved.
Two – They want the same things and have VERY different ways of seeking to get those things.
Three – one is not superior to the other – even though one may act as if he is.
Four – They both seem to want peace and cannot find it with each other.
Five – When one growls (Piper), the other gets excited (Doc) and the conflict escalates. With the possible exception of a tiny scratch on Doc’s nose some time ago, no one has been hurt.
What can I take from this? Well, look around. Look at our country (the US) and the world. Everyone wants what they want and no one is listening. Some believe that we are at a critical juncture in our history as a country and a planet and others don’t know what the big deal is. Some are seeking equality and equanimity while others are afraid, angry and reactive. There is also no doubt that in the melee, some see themselves as “alpha” or all-knowing.
What else is there for me to see? Shaming or blaming one for acting from his or her nature doesn’t make them or anything or anyone else better. I’ve seen shaming and blaming in use by others with their animals, children, partners or others and know that it doesn’t help. It inflicts more wounds and serves to fuel the division that is already in place.
In the case of Piper and Doc, they are finding their way ever so slowly. With the possible exception of the full moon, they work at tolerating each other. I’m not sure they will ever be as comfortable with each other as the others are, and I have come to accept that with the full knowledge that they are both doing the very best that they can from who and where they are. Safety is important as they continue to work out this delicate relationship dance.
Safety is what I hope will be our guiding principle as we move forward, TOGETHER, on the planet that we inhabit. I pray that we will slow down and learn to listen. Listening to another – truly listening – means that we suspend our judgments, our need to defend our beliefs, positions or thoughts, so that we really hear – with our hearts – what the other is saying.
Behavior is an announcement to others.
Be the change you wish to see.