Editor’s note: Angie Bailey’s Edge column “Feline Wisdom” made the finals for Best Online Column in the Cat Writers’ Association Awards! The awards ceremony is at the Cat Writers’ Association Conference in Los Angeles in November.
I can only speak for myself, but have a sneaking suspicion I’m not alone: Sometimes I have a hard time letting things go. And by “letting things go,” I mean putting a halt to feeling guilty or self-conscious about situations over which I have absolutely no control — especially past ones. I’m not a time traveler (but that would be really cool), so going back and changing something I said or did is impossible. I remind myself to breathe, let go and that each moment presents an opportunity to choose my words, thoughts, actions and reactions.
Cats totally get this. The other day I was dancing with Cosmo (yes, I regularly dance with my cats) and he became irritated and bit my arm. I released him, but five minutes later he was purring at my side. He didn’t seem to feel badly about his action — in fact, I’m quite certain he’d forgotten all about it. Sometimes I’ll snap at someone and then feel terrible, even after they forgive me. I guess I don’t want anyone to think badly of me, because I really feel like I’m a nice person. Cats remind us we can be nice and also sometimes react in a way that isn’t so nice. Other people can forgive us and we can forgive ourselves. I’ll try to remember that the next time I become cranky with someone and say something I regret — or bite their arm. Just kidding…I don’t (usually) bite.
Cats also don’t have a problem with recovering from an embarrassing situation. Regardless of their superb balancing skills, my cats are known to sometimes fall off a chair arm or freak out over a random piece of tape. They’re great at dusting themselves off and acting like it never happened. The way they do it is almost humorous: “Yeah…I totally meant to roll off the bed and become briefly lodged between the mattress and the nightstand.” Why are most humans so distressed after they do or say something they feel is embarrassing? I confess to sometimes being one of those humans. Is it because we want people to think we are smart, cool, and totally have our act together and any blunder will completely shatter their image of us? No matter how collected someone is, they aren’t immune to the occasional blurting-out of something ridiculous or tripping over a curb. Maybe someone will laugh at us, but so what? Admit it — it was probably pretty funny! It doesn’t say anything about who we are at our core. We all need to laugh more often anyway, right? Let’s consider these embarrassing moments opportunities for gifts of laughter and lightheartedness.
As usual, our cats have totally got it together and have no idea how naturally cool they really are. Meanwhile, we humans tend to spend so much time trying to look cool, regretting choices, and hoping others perceive us as nice, smart, and together. Let’s all follow our cats’ advice and just get over it!