Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tiny - Goofy cat or enlightened being

That's Tiny. Our middle "child," our only son. I'm not Tiny's "real" mom, a fact he relentlessly hounded me with when I first moved in with my husband. We had some rough moments there are the beginning, but Tiny and I are buddies now, and that's all that matters. 

But Tiny has this annoying little habit (ok- he has more than one annoying little habit, but we'll only be discussing one of them here). Out of nowhere comes this "meow, meow, meow...MEOW, MEOW, MEOW.." as he demands to be petted. And until that happens, he won't be backing off. I'm ok with that. He's letting us know what he wants. Fine. But when you go to pet him, he moves. That's right - out of reach. So, you scootch over a bit closer and try to pet him again. He moves again, all the while yelling at you because you aren't petting him. Huh?

One morning last week, we were going through this whole routine again. Tiny was raising his voice at us, demanding some attention. Dave went to pet him, got one good scritch in, and Tiny moved. Dave came back to the breakfast table to sit with me as Tiny yelled angrily after him. Dave said to me, "He expects us to do whatever he wants." My response was, "Well, that's why he'll be forever disappointed."

That's when the light went off in my little brain - when our expectations don't meet reality, we are disappointed. You can't really change reality. In any given moment, it is what it is. So the solution, really, then is to change our expectations. Now, I'm not talking about going along with war, violence, crime, etc without speaking up and trying to make a difference. But on an individual level, we have so many expectations of ourselves and of our lives that when those things don't happen (or happen differently than the way we planned them), we are disappointed. You can't completely escape disappointment, but I fear that many of us live in that constant state of disappointment. 

I've struggled with this particularly in the last 2 years as my illness has been at it's worst. I'm SUPPOSED to feel beter. And I'm angry that I'm still sick; that I can't do what others can do. I'm disappointed because my expectations (feeling good again) don't fit in with reality in this moment (my body hasn't healed yet). And rather than settling for disappointment, is it not better then to change our expectation... Maybe it's ok to be sick right now. It has forced me to slow down the pace of my life. It's given me the opportunity to work at home, which I didn't have before. It's taught me deal with stress differently. Now, I still struggle with accepting this (thus why the message in Tiny's behavior struck me) but I'm slowly leaning that happiness is being content in this moment, right now; about allowing our expectations to coincide with reality.  

So Tiny, my son... Is he just a goofy cat or an enlightened being sent here to remind me of these life lessons? I'm going to go with goofy cat, but I'll take the lesson just the same.


Beany said...

I am not very consistent with it, but changing my own expectations has been very instrumental in cutting down my anger/stress. I'm always trying to change reality until I stop and realize that the only thing I could change was how I perceived it.

Great post. Tiny doesn't look tiny, but is certainly fluffy :)

Heather @ SGF said...

Beany - Me too. I always have a book, a buddhist podcast or one of my meditation podcasts nearby. I try to take part in one of the three activities several times throughout the day (even if it's just a few minutes) to keep myself focused.

Oh, and naming him "Tiny" was my hubby's wishful thinking. He grew to be quite a tub-o! In fact, my nickname for him is Tiny McTubs :) He's a pretty kitty, but he's BIG!

Michelle said...

Tiny appears to be a Maine Coon Cat - we have one, too - Baxter. Also not small.

They can be very vocal!

Great post!

Wendy said...

Great post! I think anyone who is trying to deal with and understand the whole Peak Oil situation would do well to consider this - that it doesn't have to be scary if we just change our expectations of what our lives should be ;).

Heather @ SGF said...

Michelle - Exactly right - he's a Maine Coon. Beautiful cats, but dear god, the hair! Tiny says "hello" to Baxter :)

Wendy - good point. I think we can get so wrapped up in what we feel we are entitled to (having what the Jones' have) we forget what we really want and/or need. Do we really NEED all this stuff? Does that 18 year old, 100 pound college freshman girl NEED that Dodge Ram 2500 series truck (yep, we see a lot of that here in Bryan-College Station)?

Theresa said...

Expectations can really do us in, that's for sure. It's hard not to have them. I've been working on becoming more content with how things are, but it sure gets difficult at times.

What podcasts do you listen to? I would like to check those out!

Lovely kitty! Animals are great teachers :)

I hope your illness settles down for you soon. You've mentioned G.I. tract stuff before on your blog, and I know that going vegetarian has sure helped with these issues for me. Colitis and IBS are rampant in my family tree, and keeping meat out of my diet for the last ~3 years has made a huge difference to how I feel. I'm not sure if any of this is relevant to your situation, but I thought I'd mention it just in case. Be well!

Heather @ SGF said...

Theresa - I have several podcasts I listen to. Here's the list:

Meditation Podcast (for meditation)

Meditation Oasis (also for meditation)

Buddhist Teachings - a list of 8 lectures given by Robina Courtin (she's my favorite buddhist teacher. I love listening to her)

I'm vegetarian off and on. I've never really liked the taste of meat much so I've never been a big meat eater. I went almost a year this last time and I still had issues. I've been nibbling on meat maybe once a week now so still not consuming much (other than the tiny bit I put in my soup). What do you think? How long were you off meat before you saw a difference?

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Haha! I couldn't help but be reminded of Nermal when I read about Tiny's meowing habit and then going just out of reach.

I couldn't agree more, and what you are talking about is something I've long had a hard time articulating. What we need more of is not to necessarily diminish our expectations to where atrocities no longer bother us, but rather, change our expectations of our situations. Changing your perspective and what you get out of a situation leaves a lot less room for disappointment and stress. Perhaps it's a fatalist approach, but I've been a much happier person since I've altered my expectations of the world.

And you note something very important - even the worst situations have positive aspects, over the course of your illness you have learned about yourself, your happiness, and how to slow down and enjoy the little things. Even once your all better, it is likely that these things will stick with you. You are better, stronger person because of it. And you see it, all it took was seeing the situation in a different light.

Thank you for this post Heather.

Theresa said...

It was just a few months before I noticed a difference, so if you've gone a year I would think you would've noticed something by then. I have made a few accidental and one conscious decision to eat a meat product (to avoid a very awkward situation) in the past three years - on one of these occasions (the latter, where there was chicken broth involved) I notice an immediate return of symptoms. Do you notice anything when you do eat meat after a long time of going without?

Thanks for the podcast list - I'm going to check those out right now! I find meditation does really help me keep myself less stressed, which is the other main factor for me with my g.i. stuff.

Heather @ SGF said...

Jennifer - I'd definitely say it's a balanced approach - not overly optimistic or pessimistic. Things are the way they are. Now if I could just consistently practice what I preach :)

Theresa - I haven't noticed anything specifically after I eat meat, but it would be worth investigating further to see. Thanks! I never even considered that.

confucius said...

Confucius say, Tiny neither goofy cat nor enlightened being, but soon to be delicious dinner.

Heather @ SGF said...

confucius - Funny you mention that. I routinely threaten to make Kitty Noodle Casserole around here.