At the close of the year, I sit quietly, a cup of tea in hand and two cats nearby, and reflect back on the year. What has been steady and true for me throughout the year is my family, my dearest, oldest friends, and my animals. Each brings joy, peace, and comfort in their own way, and I’m deeply grateful for them.
The ones I spend the most time with—because I work at home as a writer—are my cats, Gracie and Mr. Bean. Mr. Bean, who was infamously chronicled in the four-part “I Was Born on an Amish Farm in the Middle of Winter,” https://untoldanimalstories.org/2013/09/13/i-was-born-in-the-middle-of-winter/ blog post (several posts down, September 2013), is transforming gradually from over-the-top rambunctiously biting and playful to a more dignified, loving version of himself. Even Gracie tacitly approves of him from time to time.
Gracie, though, I think she might be something akin to enlightened. She is consistent in her loving behavior, and she never says an unkind word, so to speak, to anyone. I suspect she sees things as they are, and despite what others might do, she acts unwaveringly in alignment with the principles of kindness, acceptance, and generosity of soul.
A home with a pet feels different from a home without pets. To me, homes without can feel spacious, but the space has a stillness and emptiness. A home with a pet feels friendlier, fuller, as if the very air has love in it. Animals give so much. There are the antics, which amuse; the unconditional affection, which satisfies; the steady presence, which brings comfort; and, of course, the opportunity to do animal-speak.
If you don’t have a pet and are reading this, you’ll think the lot of us are certifiably nuts. If you have a pet, I’m willing to guess that you do animal-speak: the animal does something, and you provide the narrative of their thoughts and actions, in a slightly different voice than your own.
Animals have a different sort of wisdom than we do—one that is un-derailed by thinking and believing our own thoughts. They trust their instincts above all else, seeing clearly beyond any veil of pretense and delusion to the heart of the matter. These “lesser” beings, to some, have much to teach us.