I was "blessed" to spend the last three days with a "precious" brother and sister pair of kittens, to determine, per my sister, if I am still allergic to cats. This being her latest Christmas wish and present to us, she hopes to incorporate them into our household, alongside Major, my gentle, giant Labradoodle.
Needless to say, I am not a cat lover, allergies notwithstanding. I have, however, mellowed over the years and will attempt anything to please those I care about the most. Life has a way of offering us recurring challenges from our past to relive, while traipsing them through the present and pushing them toward the future. Additionally, with all this self-sacrifice and minimal self-gloating, I was pleasantly surprised to discover how restful a night one could have, especially after taking two Benadryl, not long after your eyes have swollen shut and your breathing has been relegated to only your mouth, followed by the sensation of fine cat hair along your tongue.
Are you aware that kittens can bite through your finger to the bone, on both sides even, when introduced to a new playmate, aka Major? Did you know kittens sometimes perceive Christmas tree skirts as litter boxes and gloriously leave their presents nestled in with yours? I was assured, by the powers that be, kittens "just know" where their litter box is and always know when and how to use it. Finally, did you know that fine leather furniture is not conducive to their innate kitten climbing skills, but great at creating such a daunting challenge, they will be "damned" if they don't continue to try?
I pleasured them immeasurably, or teased them unmercifully by constantly refilling the birdfeeders just outside the large east windows of my home. When they couldn't take it any more, the little girl would reach as high as she could, while standing on the sill and hang her claws in the screens, attempting to climb to and through to reach the yellow finch feeding joyously just beyond her reach. This is truly an accident in the making, or one life less of her nine lives for the taking, if she happens to successfully rip through these six-foot screens.
In order to prevent the carnage that was about to ensue, I jumped into my pro-active "man" stance and removed and stored all the window screens along the east walls. Feeling good at my prowess, I moved to the west side of the great room, propped down in my man chair and watched them from afar.
Getting lost in my work, while in the reclined position, I forgot about the "contented" kittens, until the jump, the thump, the scratch and horrendous, ripping sound of fine mesh screen brought me quickly back into reality. I turned in an instant, my eyes in a flash to see the little girl, five feet in the air, sliding down the window screen and proving to me, even the tiniest of claws, are effective can, or in this case screen, openers.
Dad gum her, dad gum him, dad gum my sister, dad gum cats period, I can't win. The kittens never once climbed in or on the window sills on "my" side of the house. My leaving those screens up made sense, they really did, by providing more shade in the afternoon and much less work for me; I even thought it made sense to Major too. Dogs are so predictable, but somewhere I read cats rule. Just tell me who said that and why?
I determined, not too long after the screaming, wailing and gnashing of teeth subsided (not theirs, mine), that cats must be born with another innate ability, one that reaches down into your depths and reads the rumblings of your troubled mind. For it was in that instant, as I removed the remaining window screens from further feline atrocities, that the beauty of the stone bluffs and mountains, as well as the streaming, cascading waterfalls just beyond the glass, came clearly into focus. Just what have I been missing? It's absolutely beautiful; no, stunning would be a better word. Why have I allowed the screens to block these magnificent views?
With overwhelming remorse, I realize regret too, is like the window screens, in that it clouds, distorts and obscures what lies beyond the walls, our walls, consisting of flesh, blood, bone and mind that make us who we are. Mistake-prone, not mistake-proof, comes to mind as I reflect over these past few regretful years. Clearly regret has become a film that obscures reality and prevents us from actually living in the present, and more importantly, longing for a future filled with promise and hope.
I don't know about you, but the last few years of my life have been filled with many more lows than highs. In many aspects, I have been shaken to the core, especially as it pertains to family and finances. Events that have gone far beyond my control have caused me to second guess myself in many areas, a few years ago, I would have never thought twice about. My goal today is getting past what could have been or should have been, removing the screens of regret and focusing clearly on the here and now. I have my health, I am loved, surely we can do this!
Norman Vincent Peale, in a recent Guidepost article published online Dec. 31, asks us to practice the art of forgetting:
Man is what he remembers, but man is also what he forgets. One of the healthiest things a human being can do is to become a master of forgetting. Whatever you do, don't lug your resentments, your hates, your frustrations, your disappointments, your regrets into the New Year. Forge ahead! It is a great art to know how to forget. Drop it, skip it, let it go -- whatever it is. Start anew.
With the break of each new day, God's mercies begin anew. He graciously forgives and forgets. Therefore, so must we, in order for regret to be removed from our lives. I challenge you to let regret go and learn to actually live again, to thrive again, just as I have, albeit with the help of a cat. Let's open our eyes to see clearly what new opportunities await us today and go to sleep tonight, filled with anticipation of a brighter and glorious tomorrow.
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