Marilyn is back. Her adopter returned her. And I have been thinking about this parable.
Sometimes you relate to us with a sense of transience and immediacy that makes me think there is something that you may not know about us.
We have memory.
We, like you, are cursed with being able to hold in our heads the simultaneous awareness of the present and the longing for something that we remember but no longer have. Dolphins can remember the whistles of companions they have not seen for 20 years and call them by their unique names. Even with limited internet surfing time, I’ve seen the video of Christian the lion cub bought in a department store who, after 35 years, remembered the humans who raised him.
So, understand that we can feel that ache you identify as loss and longing. We know the difference between home and here. We grieve lost friends. We remember your smell and your voice. Some of us remember sleeping on a comforter and having a food bowl that was only ours.
Zen masters teach that all suffering is born of longing—an inability to achieve an unattached acceptance of the present. But sometimes it is very tough to sit in the present.
I listened to a TED talk tonight about happiness. (These people cannot keep up with their electronic devices to save their souls. ipads everywhere in here.) The speaker said we think of happiness like a state to try to maintain—but it is an emotion. And none of us is wired to feel the same emotion all the time. Emotion is like a compass. You walk one way, it feels bad so you course correct. What a crappy compass it would be to never change its setting.
In the prodigal son parable, the son went out into the world and basically “took the wrong path.” At the end of it, he ended up home where his family (his father) welcomed him back. So if you think about it, the “wrong path” ultimately brought him home to a family that recommitted to love him. So maybe it is like the Beatles say and, “There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.” I don’t know. Some places animals can be are pretty crappy.
But there is potential that maybe in the telling of our stories you may get to know us.
In getting to know us, you may develop empathy for us. Empathy is the thread on which everything hangs. Please keep telling our stories.
Marilyn didn’t choose a “wrong path” but it was certainly not what any of us hoped it would be. You should know that when you adopt us, we are ALL IN. We believe you when you say forever family and we do not ever understand that you just don’t want to take your Claritin anymore or your new boyfriend doesn’t like us. So think about it. If you think you may not be ‘all in’ then just come visit us. Because we will remember having had a home.
In the end, Marilyn’s road led her back here.
And that’s not so bad.
We are not a single cat home but humans who love us are here every day. We know we are second place to that home that many of us either remember or that we are waiting to experience for the first time. But we are safe here. You cannot find a room where they end our lives anywhere on this property. You cannot be too old to matter, too young, too hurt or too scared. Here there will always be food, love, sunlight to sleep in and pets to be given. This is after all, The South. We take in our family no matter what. “In The South, we don’t ship off our crazy relatives or lock ’em in the attics, we keep ’em around so everyone can enjoy them.” That quote may be attributed to either an episode of Designing Women or Rita Mae Brown. I could have heard it either place, truth be told.
Friends For Life is the big, loud, crazy family that always takes you back—and makes you a snack. Every animal who has ever left this place will always welcomed back here. You are our prodigal sons and daughters – for the rest of your lives. That’s how this place rolls.
So Marilyn, welcome back. (Someone, definitely not me, peed on a shelf while you were gone.)