Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I finished the most delightful book a few nights ago. It is entitled ‘Cleo’, written by New Zealand journalist and author Helen Brown, and I noticed it has just been released into America on amazon.com.
A neighbour gave it to me to read. She knows I’m a cat-lover, and maybe you do have to be a cat-lover to enjoy this book, as the main character Cleo is a feline. It’s more than just that though, it’s a perfectly written memoir involving a family tragedy and how this little cat (that they tried unsuccessfully to return to the gifter 'because they were more dog people'), healed their family.
I know the French woman teaches us lots of things (and Lord knows I go on about them enough), but I believe we can also learn a lot from cats. And the passages from the book below are quite Francais (or perhaps more Italian) on the art of living well, just from a silky-whiskered point of view.
Guilt isn’t in cat vocabulary. They never suffer remorse for eating too much, sleeping too long or hogging the warmest cushion in the house. They welcome every pleasurable moment as it unravels and savour it to the full until a butterfly or falling leaf diverts their attention. They don’t waste energy counting the number of calories they’ve consumed or the hours they’ve frittered away sunbathing.
Cats don’t beat themselves up about not working hard enough. They don’t get up and go, they sit down and stay. For them, lethargy is an art form. From their vantage points on top of fences and windows ledges, they see the treadmills of human obligations for what they are – a meaningless waste of nap time.
One of the many ways in which cats are superior to humans is their mastery of time. By making no attempt to dissect years into months, days into hours and minutes into seconds, cats avoid much misery. Free from the slavery of measuring every moment, worrying whether they are late or early, young or old, or if Christmas is six weeks away, felines appreciate the present in all its multi-dimensional glory. They never worry about endings or beginnings. From their paradoxical viewpoint an ending is often a beginning. The joy of basking on a window ledge can seem eternal, though if measured in human time it’s diminished to a paltry eighteen minutes.
If humans could program themselves to forget time, they would savour a string of pleasures and possibilities. Regrets about the past would dissolve, alongside anxieties for the future. We’d notice the colour of the sky and be liberated to seize the wonder of being alive in this moment. If we could be more like cats our lives would seem eternal.
- from Cleo, by Helen Brown
Pictured above is my little cat Zita Rosarita who died in January, age 17. Sweet Rosie-girl. Being black and white she's just the perfect colouring for my blog.