My aunt’s obsession with cats, and animals in general, is something I will never be able to relate to, yet I have always respected and understood the value we reap from animals/pets. The many times I’ve been around my Auntie Lynne’s numerous cats, I remember thinking, Why do these cats always go right towards me every time I come to her house? I wouldn’t look at them, I wouldn’t touch them, I even moved away from them to another seat. I totally ignored them and told them to go away, most of the time; (I’m fitfully allergic to cats.) Despite this, they came to sit on my lap, they purred at me, they stared at me, they cuddled up next to me. I was the only person in the house with whom they wanted contact whenever, funnily enough, I was disinterested in them at those moments.
Not disliking cats necessarily, I did sometimes throw caution away and decided I didn’t care whether my nose became a snot spigot, nor if my eyes and skin became hellfire itchy. Those things could have at me; there were times I wanted to pet the cat and appreciate it, show it affection, call to it, be sweet and friendly to it, comfort it. But when I came around, showed any interest, the cat then wanted nothing to do with me and ran away to hide. This made no goddamned sense. Before, they’d typically been all up in my bubble every single visit to my aunt’s; I couldn’t fight them off with Gandalf’s staff or Thor’s Mjolnir. Why cat? Why are you gone once I look your way?
Could the cat sense I needed something? But I really didn’t fucking want it at the time so what was it sensing if anything at all? Did the cat need something themself that I wasn’t able to give? This is not a phenomenon exclusive to cats. It’s people, more than anything, who seem to play this game of distanced, volleying, chess. So, why the push and pull? When someone is willing to be kind, loving, and affectionate, why can’t it just be received? When the times came that I wanted to stop being standoffish and totally open myself up, it was squashed. What’s that pushback all about?
It would be easy for the morality police to charge others I’ve known as guilty of rejecting my attentiveness, my thoughtfullness, my softness. (Maybe that’s a tad much. Sign me up for sainthood, right? Present me with the Humbleness Award while you’re at it. Thirdly, I’ll need the Self-Deprecating Medal as well.) Seriously, though, I’ve come into contact with some assholey hombres in my days. And being the aiming-to-be-loving woman that I am, believe me, I could brand many with that scarlet letter, hand out citations to violating men especially, but also family, and friends like a starving meter maid on a Monday at midday.
We’ll leave the romantic relationships out of the following example-giving section because, frankly, I’m tired of thinking about that aspect of life at this moment. A platonic example will suffice. I too am occasionally guilty of the pushing part of the push-pull game, albeit extremely rare, when my mom or friend desperately wants to talk to me and catch up, monsooning my inboxes, and I leave all the messages unread for days. Then, later a subject comes up that I want to vomit words about for hours, sharing excitedly, and I’m then met with either no regard or no eye contact. Or silence. Or, as is the case with my mom, I get interrupted every thirty seconds with her own random thoughts or whatever is going on around her in the room.
However, I’m not much of a complainer at heart. So, I acknowledge and move my focus to other moments. There are moments, that I cherish until I ache, when both the cats of life and I mutually and reciprocally welcome a connection. Do you have any fucking idea how beautiful this is? When two are unified? When minds sync? That is as close to an answer to the meaning-and-purpose-of-life question that I’ve gotten. It is these alignments that we are ultimately aiming for. This leads to upliftedness which begets cooperation and achievement on a larger scale. It doesn’t even have to be two human minds. When you are hiking alone and you literally bond with a tree- (Hey, get your mind out of the gutter.) Wind and sunshine are almost conversing with you and you recognize them in the most profoundly grateful way and they do their thing for you right back.
Am I speaking too abstractly? Let’s ground this analysis a little and let me offer two human examples. My fifteen-month-old daughter really wanted me to hold her and not put her down to play a few weeks back. Although I really needed to finish the housework, I wanted to hold her too. I sat her on my knee, placed my hand behind her head and tilted her back a little. She looked up at me and locked eyes. I just started singing the song, “Singing in the Rain” over and over for at least ten minutes straight. And she stared at me. Transfixed. (Ok, so admittedly she had a fever and may have been half-conscious but, still, it counts. We were connecting. Don’t dampen my memory.) I could tell neither of us wanted this to end. I was so compelled to sing to her in my sincerest voice possible and she wanted to receive it, to be swept up by the melody and the intimacy of that moment. Also, when my best friend wants to be humorous and it is striking the exact chord that God designed for me to have stricken, my mascara runs and my diaphragm gets sore due to my unstoppable laughing.
I hope you are now ready for a barrage of rhetorical questions to be fired off, followed by a firework-like finale of conclusions drawn from this introspection: What stops us? Why aren’t we more present with others in these ways? Why are we all so eager to seek out connectedness and then once we get it, so often, we don’t give an entire shit about it anymore? Once things click into place, why can’t it remain like that? Why does it have to fade? Why does it have to be so rare? Why can’t two loving persons stay in that mode without it falling apart with fights, disillusion, dischord? Perhaps if we did do that, the world would be overcrowded with too many offspring and overperfumed flowers and we’d suffocate. Maybe we’d never actually get anywhere if we didn’t push away from others, embrace solitude, and deal with shit all alone from time to time.