TarBaby is here with me using his nose to wedge his head under my hand as I'm typing, to get my hands off of that crazy keyboard and on what's important: cat. He's determined that I keep at least one hand on him. He has a strong need for affectionate attention this evening. I'm only at the house a couple hours a day, and it's just not enough for TarBaby. Since dog died about 6 years ago, TarBaby has been the protector of the house and his 2 sisters.
He feels anxious about his role. It's a big role for a cat. Dogs come by. A possum hangs around. He knows the critters of the night are bigger than he is and they're wild. They fight to kill. They say coyotes eat cats. I assure him I appreciate what he's doing for me. It comforts him when I let him know I'm aware of his commitment to me, his gift to me in return for my commitment to him. Sometimes I tell him I've known him all his life, from the day he was born, and have loved him ever since that day. He closes his eyes, listens and purrs. It's seldom, actually, he has such a deep need for being held as this evening.
He's been anxious for some time. Holding him, talking to him, petting him, relaxes him. It even seems like he gets energy from my attention. When I drive up, he comes running or walking fast from wherever he was mouse hunting, requires that I pick him up and carry him to the house. When I set him down on the ground at the door, he clings to my clothes with his claws wanting to go on being held.
TarBaby and I have a friendship of 12 years, his whole life, that includes communication in silence, by eye contact and body language. We're good at it. I often wonder what it is like for a cat to have such a close understanding with a human heart and mind. In my experience with cats and dogs throughout my life, it seems an awful lot like they regard us as gods. That's what Jesus said we are. Maybe the cats and dogs see it and we don't.
In the time of my childhood, it was generally regarded by adults that animals didn't have souls. That was the common belief. But I knew cats and dogs in childhood and they communicated like they had souls. The soul, being the essence of God in us, is the place within that loves and responds to love. I've been loved by all of them I've had with me over the years. They love and they respond to love. They have souls. They, like us, are souls with bodies attached. I was never able to get it that the entire adult population of the world I was in couldn't see it. It was so obvious to me, it bewildered me about adults. It was a crack in the preacher's credibility at a young age.
Understandings such as this set me off in my mind, in my own direction when I was seeing what looked like the obvious to me, and no one else saw it, and if I mentioned it, I was disregarded. I've talked with many people of my age with the same experience. Seems like something happened around the time of WW2 when people were more susceptible to believing what they're told to believe, than going by what's in front of them. It would have been heretical if I'd mentioned any of that to the preacher. I learned right off not to take big questions to him, because what I got was a what-you're-supposed-to-believe answer. Even teachers at school wouldn't entertain such thoughts.
There came a time when I tried to learn how to be like the people that didn't see what I saw and it never took. I couldn't do it. Thus, I left the "world" and went to the mountains for semi-solitude and got involved in the "world" in the mountains. The mountains have been the context of my spiritual path, learning from experience the way the old-timers learned.
From the time the cats were kittens I've been telling them I love them, and feeling same from them. It relaxed them visibly. I'm recalling the first time I called TarBaby my friend. He went into a purring stillness of satisfaction, very much like he knew the meaning. Still, when I call him my friend, he has this particular stillness about him and purring. It was like saying that word was the same as running my hand over his head. I just now said to him, TarBaby my friend, and he did like always, a quiet feeling within of contentment.
This is how I give him the energy to go on as protector of the house and his 2 sisters when I'm not here most of the time. It seems like he's getting his energy aligned with mine. Like a rechargeable battery. The last several days he seemed anxious like I've never seen him before. I realized he needed some focused attention and touching.
He's with me here, front legs over my left arm, his face in the crook of my arm, a particularly affectionate gesture. I thought it would be a good thing to give him full attention this evening, take some time for just TarBaby and remind him I appreciate him and why, write to you about him and tell you about what a great cat he is, and let him feel it. He just now started purring loudly. I like knowing a cat as well as I know TarBaby. They're only 'dumb' because they can't talk. When it comes to intelligence, cats have it in abundance.
One of my friends jumped in my face some years ago when I said something about TarBaby being a great cat. She got all defensive / aggressive and tore into me for thinking my cat was better than other cats, particularly hers. That was so far away from what I was thinking when I said that, I had to review in my mind what I'd said that she took in such a way. I tried to explain that to say he's a great cat doesn't mean he's The Greatest. He's a great cat to have in my life. It was one of those times I learned again not to explain anything when cornered like that. If that's the way she wants it, that's the way she's got it. What does it matter to me or TarBaby? It took a long time, but I finally did learn.
TarBaby is now sitting on the corner of the desk staring at the floor. I just now said, TarBaby my cat. He turned his head half way toward me and then back, a gesture to say he heard it. I don't know what I'd do if I were told to recant believing a cat has a soul or be burned at the stake, and it serious like in medieval times. I'd probably say, OK, where do I sign? After all, duress as motivation negates the recanting and I'm free. Like Galileo. Why be a martyr over the obvious?