Curled up on the couch on a cold, cold night…
My cat sleeps. He is on his side, curled into a tight ‘C’, nose buried in back paws, tail curled up across his ears. His shape is more “lump of soft clay” than “athletic, powerful feline”. He purred, half an hour ago, when he first showed up and lay down beside me, the edge of his back just touching the outside of my thigh.
That is all the closer he gets, even on these cold nights. Just a slight touch – just an edge – to let you know he’s there, but he’s not interested in snuggling. Just – proximity.
I can accept that. I have enough snuggling. My partner lies on my other side, her head resting fully on my lap. My fingers stroke her hair; one hand is buried to the first knuckle, gently gliding along, feeling the rasp and tug as I catch the occasional tangle, hearing the whisper of fingerprints on follicle, watching as the thick brown mass parts seamlessly before the prow of the ship that is my hand. She was awake, twenty minutes ago, when she lay down; but her breathing has slowed, as if she has reached that peak rest state, that human hibernation which is a combination of relaxation, comfort, and trust, in which you can feel at peace and protected from all that is outside – wind, rain, weather; and all that is inside – doubt, fear, worry, inadequacy, incapacity.
I sit, flanked by two loves, and participate in a third. I hold a book in my free hand, gently turning the pages with a thumb. I would pay more attention, but the story is not intensely riveting. I read to complete the book, to check it off my to-do list, to achieve something and thus feel as if I do not waste my time. For is that not the American Way? Busy, busy always, make every second count, do something, anything, and thus, by your success, prove your value as a person, as an individual, as worthy of the life given to you and the resources expended to make you, to raise you, to get you to this point.
Suppose I did not read tonight. Suppose I did not “make every second count.” And simply, plainly, relaxed, rested, held these two parts of my life with both my hands. Would I lose out? Would they?
So. Do I dare? Do I resist the temptation for more, more? Do I put down the book and simply be, in the moment, with those who love me and share with them my heart?
Or do I succumb to the societal influence and grasp, grab, mutilate, suck every last ounce of profit out of every last breast of opportunity?
You know what? I do.
I put the book Down. I place a hand on a shoulder and stroke gently. I place the other on a head and scratch, equally gentle.
Purrs come from one. Contented signs come from the other. And I bask in the moment, restful, plain, calm, accepted and accepting, for this – THIS – is living.