One of the first things that I studied as a philosophy student was the concept of absurdity. The thing is human beings who spend a lot of time in thought, of which I am one, often find the world to be a frustrating place because it is a very difficult and strenuous activity to find meaning in a world where so many events seem to happen for absolutely no good reason whatsoever.
There are days when I struggle to find meaning, to be serious, to contemplate how I am going to make a difference and then there are days when I have just.absolutely.fucking have had ENOUGH. On these days, when my sanity hangs in the balance, I chose to combat absurdity with absurdity, or in other words, I walk around acting like a jackass, which often has the effect of making me feel better.
In the words of one of my favorite singers, James Taylor, "People can be so cold. They'll hurt you and desert you, and they'll take your soul if you let them, oh yeah, but don't you let them." Easier sung than done, but here is a suggestion for the preservation of your soul: have an absurd conversation with your cat, and or other pet.
I say a cat is the best person to have such a conversation with and this may be because I am partial to cats, or perhaps it is simply because I happen to own the best cat in the world, an asian short hair, who is white with blue eyes, his name is Stuart. I remember well the day that I took my daughter to purchase a dog from the pet store. She was five, my son was 2 and a half at the time. I only had two children then. Those were the easy days.
In any case, there was this little white cat, who resembled quite strikingly, Stuart Little from the film version with Gina Davis, which at the time had just been released. He looked at me from his little crate and put his face into the holes and meowed. Not a whiny, annoying meow. But more a meow that said, "Hey lady, if you get me out of this fucking pet store, I promise I'll be your friend forever." The pet store owner said he was the last of the litter. All of his brothers and sisters had already been purchased. I believe he cost somewhere around four hundred dollars, which is astronomically large sum of money to pay for a cat, given that on any residential street corner in the summer, it is almost impossible not to find a free kitten, but this cat was special, and so I forked over the four hundred bucks, and Stuart, as the kitten became known to us, held up his end of the bargain and was my friend forever.
Sure, there were a couple of trying days in the beginning. Like when his claws threatened to unravel my newly installed berber carpeting. There was the time when he scratched my daughter en route to the vet, right across the cheek drawing blood. After that, we had a firm conversation in which I informed Stuart that he could remain in our house, but only if he allowed me to declaw him. He accepted his fate with his usual good humor. Any way, he is a house cat and a lazy one at that. Once when we had a mouse in our home, he sat prominently on the sofa and watched it run amuck. Eventually, I screamed "Stuart" as if to shame him into action. Not unlike the t.v. cat, Garfield, he looked at me with an expression of disregard, as if to say, "You can't be serious."
And thanks to Stuart, on the many days when I am feeling so super serious, and like there are no answers, and things will never get better, and my soul is being stolen, and I hate everyone that I know, save my children, who are just simply annoying at times but, otherwise generally very lovable creatures, I can't be serious, because I look into his blue eyes as he follows me everywhere that I go, always finding a spot on my lap or my chest when I am seated or lying down, and I can't help but discuss life with him. He is one of the only living creatures to ever keep a promise to me. Our covenant is sacred. So I trust him with my inner most thoughts.
Stuart has many nicknames. When I am feeling spanish, I call him Senor Valdez. Don't ask me where I got this from because I don't know. He also, for a time, went by the name of Lane Ligon, who was my former realtor when we sold our house in South Carolina. The name just floats off your tongue like butter and so I wanted to call him that so that I could say it over and over again. Also, since our house wasn't selling, I would pretend that Stuart was in fact Lane Ligon, and I would ask him questions about the house selling. Case in point, absurd conversation made me feel better.
As of late, with the house being somewhat of a disaster and my life following suit, I have begun to greet Stuart when I find him sprawled out on my king sized bed as if he is in charge of everything, Your Lordship. I have taken to making the children, and the few people brave enough to pay me a visit in my home, greet him as such. It seems appropriate (see last post for my definition of appropriate) given that he has lived with us now for nearly twelve years, and he has faithfully remained my friend, indeed on many occasions keeping shit together, or at least helping me keep my shit together. He has a regality about him that can not be denied, and so I believe this title suits him quite well.
When I am feeling particularly blue and hopeless, I often ask Stuart, "What is it like to be a cat? What is your cat life like really?" When I sit in my rocker chair crying for the two thousandth time in a week, he actually hugs me, and takes his paw and pats my shoulder. I do not lie. He also, incidentally, not to brag, but to brag, uses the toliet ala Mr. Jinx in Meet the Parents. If I can ever master the art of recording home video and then posting it to a blog, I will play it on here, I promise. For now, you will have to take my word for it. I swear to God, on my own life and the lives of my nearest and dearest, that it is true.
He typically answers me to the effect that life as a cat really isn't all that bad. One time, when we were watching the Olympics he did experience a period of depression because he became insanely jealous of the swimmer Michael Phelps. He felt certain, given the opportunity and proper training, that he could compete and indeed beat Mr.Phelps. I gently explained to him that cats are not allowed to compete in the olympics.
"That's ridiculous", Stuart told me.
"I know", I said reassuringly, "It's not fair."
"I could beat him, I know I could and I would look dashing in bathing cap and a unitard."
"You would Stuart, I believe in you."
"Thanks Laurie, you are the best human being I know."
And this why having an absurd conversation with a cat, or other pet, can help you not be so serious, and perhaps for glimpses in time, even a little happy:)