Here’s my cat, Kobi, dozing in yesterday evening’s setting sun. When I wake him up from sleep, unintentionally, he has this puffed-up, wary look, like something that has been baking too deliciously in the oven. He even smells like something delicious (I often call him muffin then). So I bury my face in his fur and feel his rumbling. This is a simple pleasure that I sometimes feel I can’t even talk about without embarrassment, because there is still this idea that you’re really not supposed to love animals this much. But I love this little lion, who rarely gets a mention on my blog, but who is a constant entity in the background. This made me think of Jeanette Winterson’s wonderful article about her lost cat, Minnie:
Most days I said, ‘Come on Minnie, let’s go to the studio’, and she trotted after me to do some work. An animal helper is there in all the fairy tales, and I have lost mine.
There are people, plenty of them, who think an animal is a child substitute, or just a thing on four legs that is nice for the kids.
But a cat or a dog is not a substitute for anything – it is itself, and can be a place of both comfort and continuity. My Minnie cat is gone and although I have planted her under an apple tree, dappled like her, I cannot get used to working without her. I miss her very much and there isn’t such a thing as a Minnie substitute. I will find a special cat again, one day, and I will be lucky, but such a cat will not replace Minnie – the cat will be herself, different, maybe difficult, but decidedly her own.
Only crap, senseless hyper-capitalism reduces everything to interchangeable, buy-another-one, substitutes. But real things are whatever they are, and cannot be replaced in the way our simplistic value system pretends.
And love? Love is not confined to human beings; it is cross-species, and it belongs in nature too. We love what we love, and sometimes we are fortunate enough to be loved in return.
I feel this note of all-embracing love is a good way to say happy holidays, whatever you happen to celebrate this time of year.