This post is part of our 2017 Team Buzz Builder Guest Blogger series. Today we are pleased to introduce you to bestselling author and customer service expert, Chip R. Bell.
Week before last, I visited the Key West home of famed writer Ernest Hemingway. The descendants of Hemingway’s many six-toed cats still live on the grounds and join visitors as a part of their tour. His quote about cats got me thinking about what I learn from my cat. “A cat,” wrote Hemingway, “has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”
I know some people don’t like cats; I have friends who are allergic to cats. And I think I have read all the idioms that express negative myths about cats (e.g., scaredy-cat, fat cats, herding cats). Still, I watch my 11-year old black cat in action (or inaction) and marvel at what life might be like if I lived it more like a cat.
“Any cat who misses a mouse pretends it was aiming for the dead leaf.” –Charlotte Gray
Except for trips to the vet, my cat seems to enjoy every moment. She never panics even when there are loud noises nearby. She approaches every day with a pace and rhythm that is graceful, deliberate, and celebratory. Life seems, in part, to be about taking deep breaths with a focus on being… not just doing, doing, doing. When I make a mistake, I worry and sometimes punish myself inappropriate to the hiccup. When I goof, I wish I could just pretend I was aiming for the dead leaf.
“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” –Terry Pratchett
There is an obvious self-confidence about my cat. Being liked seems to be nice, but not necessary. Perpetually measuring up is fine. but certainly not the driver of her identity. She is centered and poised, even in circumstances that might warrant a bit of anxiety. You get the impression she completely owns her life experience without one ounce of victim, blame, or excuse. She is not cocky, just confident. I wish I could live more of my life with her emotional invincibility.
“After dark all cats are leopards.” –Zuni Indian Proverb
I think my cat believes she is a gift and fully embraces that sense of privilege. From the day we brought her home from the shelter, she demonstrated in her attitude how lucky WE were; she was just along for the joy ride. It is not that she is unappreciative; she frequently shows her gratitude for her privileged station in life. But when I watch her pounce at anything that could be mentally converted into an adventure, I sense she is always on a glorious hunt. I wish I could approach every day like it was an adventure, not just another day.
“Cats know how to obtain food without labor, shelter without confinement, and love without penalties.” –William L. George
My cat washes herself a lot. I know an elegant coat has DNA roots to the survival of her cat-family ancestors. She just does it with such luxury. There is nothing quick and on-the-run about it. And she seems to relish the ritual as her way of getting a daily massage. I wish I could take care of my body, mind, and soul with the delicacy she uses to envelope her shiny cold-black coat. It means treating each day was an opportunity for betterment.
Cats are amazing animals. They are also a metaphor for how to live life to the fullest. And they are smart enough to focus on what matters, not on the trivial distractions that rob energy and spirit. As Jeff Valdez wrote, “Cats are smarter than dogs; you can’t get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.”
Let this year be your year of the cat!