An ordinary kitten will ask more questions than any five year old.
-Carl Van Vechten
I got a kitty recently. A cuddly bundle of joy and delight who is always endeavoring to figure out the world around her. She is constantly reminding me of the awkward but endearing quality of learning, and of the play and bizarreness of the world.
Yesterday she put her head in a small backpack sitting on a chair. Sticking her face in the outside pocket, she sniffed around to discover leftover cucumber slices from my picnic lunch. At first with interest, and then with vigor, she was stuffing her head, and then her whole upper body into the pocket to make sure she hadn’t missed anything.
But before long, having that curiosity satisfied, she sat up ready to move on to another adventure. In one zesty move she jumped off of the chair— hooking one of her little back legs on the backpack strap on the way down. Suddenly, what she thought was a harmless inanimate object with some boring human food was a fierce and attacking animal, right on her tail! Onto the floor and around and around the LIVE and wild backpack was chasing her.
I watched. First I worried that her little legs would be injured in her fight for life with the luggage. Then I felt the mild concern of seeing a terrified expression on someone you love, even in the face of something you know to be harmless. And then came humor— this kitten was doing battle with an inanimate object. How many times had I done battle with things that were completely harmless to me? Extending much energy and great fright defending myself from “a backpack,” so to speak.
It got funnier and funnier as the scene went on— a terrifying backpack of all things. Man, the world can be strange! Slashing around on the wood floor in a fury, she managed to free herself from the horrific monster before too long. However, her bold curiosity of moments before was gone. She slunk away from the terrible scene and hid under the nearby wood stove, collecting herself.
I don’t even remember the moment when she discovered it was just a stupid backpack—the same uninteresting one with the dying cucumber slices she had seen and tried to leave behind only moments ago. Though I know it wasn’t long afterward.
I just remember sitting there laughing. Laughing at the funny situations that life deals us and at the weird ways we forget and then rediscover the illusion. Laughing at seeing myself battle luggage on the kitchen floor. Attaching to things that I could be rid of—perhaps just for the drama of it all.
Sometimes the most random moments bring a clarity that can’t be ignored, making the game so obvious –all you can do is sit back and laugh.
– Aimée Cartier
PUBLISHED IN CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE CAT