A few days ago I had the privilege of baby-sitting a kitten while a friend was otherwise occupied. My friend had rescued this little creature one day on a very busy street. The cat was in the middle of the road when my pal spied it, pulled his car over, and blocking traffic, snatched the kitten up and brought it home. No one knows where it had come from, but we suspect little “Mocha” would have had a sad story to tell if she could say anything other than “Mew.”
Now, I’m a cat lover from way back (even though my son’s allergies keep me from having one now), but it’s been a very long time since I’ve been around a kitten. Mocha was entertaining indeed-- doing all the things one might expect a kitten to do. She slept on my stomach for a good portion of the morning, ate her food, chased a string, (unfortunately) scratched at her fleas, and purred. She seemed purr-fectly (sorry!) content for the entire seven hours she was in my custody, during which time I got absolutely nothing done other than playing and napping with Mocha.
But my day was not wasted—far from it. Because Mocha got me thinking. Knowing her tragic and possibly violent history (one ear looks a little nibbled), I wondered how she could seem so carefree. And it occurred to me that Mocha has tapped into one of the essential secrets of happiness: don’t dwell in the past. Mocha (unlike many humans I know), didn’t tell me her backstory, didn’t cry and rant over all her bad luck, didn’t blame her mother or father, or her siblings, or her former owners. She didn’t dwell in all the pain and fear and torture she had felt when she was abandoned in the middle of a busy street. She didn’t scratch and hiss and carry her anger with her.
Nope, she was totally in the here and now. And the here and now was pretty good, so why not enjoy it? She is now fed, cared for, loved, and will have regular checkups. So why—like so many of us do—go back to the past, go back to the places of pain and anger and hurt? Why dwell in the anguish of the past?
It’s a valuable lesson. And, to boot, she also reminded me to play, something I’ve not been doing lately. All it takes is a string and a kitten to make seven hours go by in a flash of genuine happiness! I guess that’s why people have pets.