We have a new kitten in our home. Mulligan, unlike his older step-brothers, has yet to learn how to live with a blind man. When I clump around in my sneakers and I hear him screeching at my feet, I’m likely to say, “Now what the hell’s wrong with that cat?”
In the tumult, I search for who’s at fault. Once there, I know who to blame. Maybe I learned the blame game in childhood. Maybe it has nothing to do with blindness.
After I affix fault and blame, I may realize my part in what happened. Even as I take responsibility, the game does not end. Now I feel guilt and shame. If I weren’t so careless and clumsy, so overdressed and overbearing, this would never have occurred. Fault and blame, guilt and shame are the four beats to the bar of my song. Fault, blame, guilt, shame.
Only after I’ve sung a couple choruses do I crouch and minister to the injured kitten. I apologize. I inform Mulligan that I cannot see him underfoot and he needs to learn to keep a safe distance. Limp if you must, but learn along the way.
I once taught a cat to meow when I entered the room. She was a quick learner. She meowed in self-defense. She had grown weary of being stepped on. I hope Mulligan learns the same lesson.
My dilemma is not how to avoid cats. I rely on them to learn evasive tactics. My dilemma lies in tempering my extreme reactions. I find these extremes tiresome. I’d much rather go immediately to acceptance and first aid rather than going through my emotional gymnastics of fault and blame, guilt and shame. Any suggestions?
~ Jeff Flodin