My mother loves to tell the story of her childhood cat, Patience, who, after going missing for something like a year, reappeared at the door of the family home demanding to be let in. According to Mom, Patience marched directly to the former location of her food dish, and promptly protested when she discovered there was no longer any cat food to be found.
I am that cat. In the past three months I’ve tried journaling and failed, dappled in poetry just enough to realize that I’m no Dr. Seuss (who, according to Wikipedia, celebrated- from the great beyond- his 111th birthday yesterday), and even experimented with a period of abstinence from writing under the false assumption that I could learn to live in the moment if I spent less time on the page. So, now, just as you were getting used to the idea of being able to sit down on the couch without coating your derriere in freshly shed fur, of never again sharing your bathroom oasis with a litter box, and of learning to walk outside without the risk of being greeted by a headless rodent on the doormat, here I am.
What do Patience and I have in common? The answer is certainly not in the name. Patience, as a trait, has never been my strong suit. The cat, in contrast, was purportedly known to crouch behind bedskirts for hours awaiting the opportunity to leap out and latch onto the ankle of an unsuspecting passer by. What connects us, rather, is our parallel expectation of reward without the obligation of effort. We both somehow expect there to be food in a dish we last frequented more than a year prior.
I want to be bendy and spiritually grounded without the hassle of a daily yoga practice. I expect a recipe to taste amazing on the first try, even after I’ve omitted a key ingredient. And I can’t seem to understand why I must read an entire book before claiming mastery of a given topic.
Here’s the thing. I’m not lazy. I’m terrified. Of putting myself out there. Of working at something day in and day out with no guarantee. I was recently listening to an interview with Eunice Schroeder regarding the ancient practice of walking a labyrinth, and she spoke about the concept of treating each bend in the road not as a dead end but rather as a necessary turn in an ultimately beautiful and complex path. I’ve never been good at turns. I’m more of a let’s ride this train until I reach the end of the line and then jump off and find a new track kind of traveler.
I’m afraid that if I were to zoom out now, my path would be a series of straightaways, haphazardly blazed splinters with no overlapping cohesion. So, here I am. A cat returning to a previously abandoned doorstep, clawing my nails into the wood and hoping that eventually the door will swing open again. Either way, I intend to keep showing up.