The Instinct of a Crippled Tomcat

“Those with less curiosity or ambition just mumble that God works in mysterious ways. I intend to catch him in the act.” ~ Damien Echols

“Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.” ~ Richard Feynman

“She had an immense curiosity about life, and was constantly staring and wondering.” ~ Henry James

“The value the world sets upon motives is often grossly unjust and inaccurate. Consider, for example, two of them: mere insatiable curiosity and the desire to do good. The latter is put high above the former, and yet it is the former that moves one of the most useful men the human race has yet produced: the scientific investigator. What actually urges him on is not some brummagem idea of Service, but a boundless, almost pathological thirst to penetrate the unknown, to uncover the secret, to find out what has not been found out before. His prototype is not the liberator releasing slaves, the good Samaritan lifting up the fallen, but a dog sniffing tremendously at an infinite series of rat-holes.” ~ H. L. Mencken

Something happen recently that changed my world in an instant. It was a surprise, almost a shock; quite pleasant, perhaps even soul-stirring. It sure felt that way. Yes, I am being mysterious, and no I am not going to tell you what it is that happened. It is what it is, so don’t even try it. For more than two years I waited for this, without actually knowing that I was being patient the whole time. I have a curious relationship with patience. A good analogy is my hands. A couple of days ago a customer at work commented on how steady my hands were, and I was like “when?”. I held out my left hand, palm down, and simply said “This hand always shakes”. The shaking was visible. Case closed. But my hands can indeed be steady, if something I am doing requires steadiness. I related a story in my book, Theater of Clouds (click here), of how I came to realize that regardless of my neurological and structural challenges instinct can override them at times. It was an adolescent ginger tabby tomcat who showed me. Hermes got hit by a car, which all but crippled his hindquarters. The poor boy was spastic a good part of the time; most of the time. But one day I saw him poking about in some weeds when something caught his attention. His whole posture shifted in an instant as he began stalking whatever it was. Moving slow and low through the weeds, he expressed the full grace, and rather scary precision, that cats know so well. No spasticity, no sign of any kind of impairment at all. When his graceful approach proved fruitless he simply hobbled away, the instinctual grace having disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. Curious indeed. The uptake here is that my hands do that too. As for that surprise I was talking about in the opening of this post, there is a similar dynamic going on there as well. My father often disparaged instinct. I respect that, but that ginger cat showed me otherwise. Have you ever watched a cat stalking something, anything? How slow they move, almost imperceptible at times? Here’s the thing: are they being patient? Was I being patient for two years? Simply put, no. Listen, I’ve run out of time here, so I gotta get to my workday. I realize that I may be leaving this post at loose ends. If so, so what? In the immortal words of Curly Howard: “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk”. Onward.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

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