I open my closet door probably four times a day, and each and every time I do, Spirit, my cat, races in as though I were opening the door to a totally new universe for the very first time. Why he does this I certainly do not know and doubt that he does. But that does not stop him from doing it.
Cats are selectively intelligent; they know what they choose to know and simply ignore anything else. A lot of people are like that, too. But we'll get to them a bit later.
Each time I open my top dresser drawer to take out a pair of socks and shorts, Spirit positions himself at the corner of the dresser, looking up at the drawer and demanding loudly that I get on with it. He doesn't give a damn about my socks and shorts, of course. He knows that is where I keep the small laser light pen which he insists I take out each day for his entertainment. I turn it on and send him into an absolute frenzy trying to catch the little red light that appears on the floor in front of him and moves quickly up and down the lower sections of doors and walls, where he can more readily get to it.
His attention span has grown noticeably shorter of late, and while he has always associated the pen with the game, he has apparently figured out that that's where the light comes from, and now looks up at the pen itself while ignoring the spot of light he's supposed to be chasing. Our sessions now last little longer than a frenetic fifteen or twenty seconds, after which he gets bored and wanders off. (Again, there's a certain similarity there to many humans.)
Both cats and humans tend to spend a great deal of time trying to catch things which cannot be caught. Cats pursue laser lights; humans pursue any number of elusive things--love, fame, fortune. I pursue time, spending probably the bulk of my existence trying to capture it...to put it into words and preserve it. And the irony, for me, is that I am so focused on capturing the past that I fear I am all but incapable of living in the present.
Back in the early 17th century, English poet Robert Herrick said, "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may; Old time is fast a-flying...." Well, thoughts and memories formed into words are my rosebuds, and the more clearly I recognize that old time is, indeed, fast a-flying, the more frantic I become in their gathering, . (I find it mildly ironic to realize that this is not a new phenomenon for me; I have been this way for as long as I can remember, so it's not particularly an intimations-of-impending-mortality thing.)
And in a way I realize, too, that I spend so much time recording time simply because I can. No 9-5 job. No wife, kids, or grandkids or weddings or Moose Club picnics or church socials or bowling leagues or season tickets for the Mets putting demands on my time. This of course does not make my life better than anyone else's, but it does make it different, and I do have far more discretionary time than people with familial and social obligations.
So Spirit and I make a rather good match. We are each able to concentrate fully on those things we find worth concentrating on--though Spirit in fact probably has a longer attention span than I. We each can either totally or fairly well ignore those things we wish to ignore, and find an odd kinship with one another. Our attempts to communicate with each other are notably unsuccessful--though once again I take second place to Spirit, who manages to get his ideas on his need for food and attention across fairly well. My demanding that he stop using the carpet as a scratching post is, if acknowledged at all, met with a totally uncomprehending stare. And neither of us has the foggiest idea of what goes on in the other's head.
Now if you will excuse me, I must go gather some more rosebuds.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).