The Cat on the Sidewalk

This morning, walking to my office, I saw something on the sidewalk that I thought was an old slimy banana peel. As I got closer, I realized it was a dead squirrel, face down on the pavement, little legs sprawled, head unidentifiable, body robbed of its fur and skin by whatever ate its head. It always saddens me greatly to see a dead animal. Generally, the feeling lingers deep within my heart until something happens to turn my thoughts elsewhere. Luckily today that happened almost immediately. I got a few buildings further down the sidewalk and a fluffy black cat with white paws came running up to me, meowing (and I do realize he could very well have been the one who mangled the squirrel, but… circle of life and all that). He was a small cat (much smaller than mine, who most recently weighed in at 17 lbs despite the expensive diet food we’ve been feeding him for the past 4 years – but that’s another story). This cat swirled around my legs and talked and talked, and, of course, I talked back, standing on the sidewalk, telling him how pretty he was and that I was sorry I didn’t have any food to give him. He seemed to understand and went back up the stairs to the house I assumed was his owner’s.

Just that short interaction lifted my mood and I was reminded that this is how we are supposed to cope with life’s tragedies and misfortunes and heartaches. Feel it briefly, and then move on to something that fills you with hope or joy. Don’t dwell on the bad stuff. Don’t keep your focus on the thing that is upsetting. Look outward and find the beauty, the magic, the stuff that makes you feel good. Feeling bad for a dead squirrel isn’t going to help the dead squirrel. It’s not even going to help any living squirrels. And it’s certainly not going to help me. Now, I know a dead squirrel is no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but this is a small example of the principle. Apply it to everything, and you’ll be a happier person.

I used to think that was wrong. I used to think it was weak to only focus on the good stuff and push the bad out of your head. I thought that if everyone paid more attention to the bad stuff, maybe bad stuff would stop happening. But that’s not how it works. If you follow the Law of Attraction, you know that focusing on the bad stuff only attracts more bad stuff. And focusing on the good, brings more good. It’s a simple enough rule, but, like lots of rules and proposed mentalities, it’s easier said than done. I mean, it’s not every day a stranger’s cat comes to your aid.

So, how do we do it? Lots of people use food. Or cigarettes. Or alcohol. All unhealthy ways of coping, obviously, but there are healthy ways to lift yourself out of a slump. Music (listen, play, sing, dance!). Movies. Books. Call a friend. Go for a walk and look at the trees. Take a bubble bath. Do some journaling. Or you could go outside and call, “Here, kitty-kitty!” and see if an angel shows up.

Whatever your method, just do it. Because life is too short to spend it feeling badly.

(Cartoon of brain and heart from @theAwkwardYeti, )

3 Comments on “The Cat on the Sidewalk”

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