Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cat's Eye(s)

For ten years, this was a catless household.  Sweet Siddy-La, for all her wonders, never was a cat girl, and she was blessing enough I was happy to be cat free as long as I was lucky enough to have her.  Every now and then, I'd think about how charming it is to have a pet you can scoop up and nuzzle, but I never felt deprived, not with her around.

In July, it'll be two years since I had a cat again, and Gossamer has been a pretty wonderful companion.  He and Penelope together are the source of more of my laughter than any other thing in the world.  They are dear in such different ways, and I'm so thankful I found each one of them.

One of the magical things about a cat is the high honor it can be to earn their trust.

Some people may be familiar with the way a cat can sit silently, regarding you, and make a point of squeezing its eyes shut for a second or two.  I wonder how many people know what this closed-eyes moment means, in feline parlance.

Many mammals express trust and/or submission by exposing their bellies - the ultimate expression of trust and acceptance of authority over themselves.  Cats are far less prone to expressing submission the way dogs may do with their humans - but they will sometimes tell you they trust you, which is as deep a communication as one creature can give another.  A cat who closes its eyes at you has given you the profoundest gift any of us can give:  its trust.

Image:  Wikimedia

Cats' eyes are known for their hugeness, their luminescence, their steady gaze.  They can be so intense, and those who know Gossie know his eyes are great green jewels.  As brightly as they photograph:  they look like that in life.  I used to joke, when he was a kitten and his coloring still softer and paler than it has become, that he had "snot-green" eyes.  But they've always been arresting little beams of light.  He's always had a remarkable little gaze.

By the time I adopted Goss, I had finally learned how to behave in forming a new relationship with a cat.  The main thing, even when they are VERY small still, is never to impose yourself on them physically.  You can offer pettin' and scoop 'em up twenty hours a day, as long as it's always an offer first, and you let them accept.

The amazing thing is how incredibly affectionate a cat you can find on your hands, when you don't start off your life with one, picking it up and snoodling on it, every time *you* feel like a snuggle.  How trusting a cat you can find before you, if you always, always - always - offer your attention openly, but stop just short of actually giving it every time, and let them consent, every time.

A hand held out, but not connecting for a pet or a caress, will attract a cat into a pet or a caress pretty much every time, if he has enough autonomy in the transaction that that last two or three inches is *his* to close, to make the connection.

It's like that, too, with writing - and, I think most particularly, with revising, with very fine polishing.

The work I'm doing now is not formation - not even restoration, but a revisiting.  This is the word that keeps coming to mind, when I describe it to anyone.

I'm not recreating what came before and I removed, but I'm opening a door to all the accumulated knowledge, the lost scenes, the descriptions and everything I know and did not use, or took out - and I'm finding that, what needs to be back in, is coming to the door, coming to me, without my having to really inventory the sum of what could be used, and wrestle it out of my head and onto the page.

The advantage of having worked on The Ax and the Vase for as long as I have is that I know its resources really well.  I live in a world littered with useful components, and if I don't force my way to one nifty thing or another - if I am open, exciting things will come.

Gossie knows I don't impose myself on his little body without his knowledge and consent.  Because of this, he's willing to close his eyes around me, because he trusts me with ... well, if not his person, then his feline, perhaps.  Because of this, I have a gregarious and friendly cat who is totally Mamma's Boy, even when neato new people are around who can give him exciting and new and yummy affection and admiration.  He's great with new people.  But he's more "my" pet than any cat I ever had before, and I've had some really nice cats in my day.

Ax seems, too, to trust me, and to come to me, at this point.  And as I type now, there seems to be a trusting little warm ball of grey nestling against my hip.  Aww.

It's ironic that learning how not to control something in life turns out to be the best way to get it to cooperate.

I really need to apply this to my human relationships ...


d park said...

HEY!! pay attention to your tweet replies, woman.

DLM said...

Wait - I have been - what did I miss??