Meet my cat, Charlie.
As you can see she doesn’t have any trouble slowing down. Or sleeping.
She doesn’t worry about whether I am comfortable with her on my lap. Instead she focuses on getting into the most comfortable position for herself.
Then she does a slow-eye close accompanied by sounds of contentment meant to keep me seated.
Just looking at her I feel calmer. Listening to her purring my shoulders drop an inch. Petting her I forget my to-do list. Studying the greys and apricots and silvers in her coat I am happy and content.
She enthusiastically eats the same thing twice a day. Her demand to eat doesn’t seem to be connected to anything other than hunger and my having habituated her to particular meal times convenient in my life. Her only drink is water.
Sometimes I wondered how can she stand to eat the same thing day in and day out?
Other days, I envy her monotony.
Then I worry about the fact that I envy monotony and a cat that eats kibbles twice a day.
But it does make me reflect on the purpose and space food and eating take up in my life.
Thinking about it. Planning for it. Recipe-hunting, shopping, preparing, cooking, cleaning up, eating, left-overing, cleaning up.
I see that at times I use food for more than nourishment. There are times that eating is a reward or entertainment. Sometimes I eat to distract myself from thoughts or tasks I don’t wish to engage in. Sometimes I follow a recipe – if you measure exactly and follow the instructions you get a certain result — to bring order to chaos in my life.
Now we are approaching the holiday season. Often this brings expectations of happiness and abundance, but just as often it comes with anxiety, even dread. Either way, food plays a big part in this emotionally charged period of the year.
Perhaps we expect food to do more than it really can when thoughts and emotions about the holidays run high or low?
Maybe I can take better care of myself during the holidays this year by taking a few lessons from my cat.
Lesson 1: Simplify my commitments and expectations.
Lesson 2: Be comfortable in my own skin.
Lesson 3. Take naps. Get enough rest.
Lesson 4: Eat only when I am hungry, and enjoy what I am eating.
Lesson 5: Use food to nourish my body, not to cope with my emotions.
Lesson 6: Be grateful for a warm lap, hug or smile.
What lessons have you learned from your pets or creatures in nature that have helped you?
Char Wilkins, US