The last couple of days have been bright and sunny ones, and without the leaves on the trees this time of year, the skylights in the living room create large patches of sunshine that travel slowly across the room as the sun moves through the sky over the course of the day. My two cats, like every cat I’ve ever known, love the sunshine. They have both paid a great deal of attention to the spots of sunshine moving across the room the last two days, but their reactions could not have been more different.
Max is the more dominant of my two cats. He doesn’t seem to be scared of much of anything, and he spends a great deal of time bullying my other cat. His biggest fascinations in life, though, are light and shadow. He is convinced that if he just tries hard enough, he can capture the light and hold onto it. As the spots of sun moved through the room, he attacked every surface the sun landed on.
He tried to dig through the carpet and the seat cushion of one chair to find the source of the light below it. He tried to eat my tax paperwork when the light shone on it to consume the light he was seeing. He knocked over another chair to look beneath it for the source of the light. He chased the light, he pounced on it, he tried every tactic he knew to capture and hold onto it.
Needless to say, it didn’t work. The sun still set at the end of the day, and the spots of light disappeared from the room. And in all that time, he never looked up see where the light was coming from or take a moment just to revel in the joy of its presence.
My other cat, Sadie, has the timid, easily-frightened demeanor of one who is bullied. He took great care of stay out of Max’s frantic chasing of the light, but when he could safely do so, he would settle into a patch of sunlight, point his little face into the sun with his eyes squinting shut, and purr with contentment as he soaked up the light and warmth.
He made no attempt to capture it or contain it. He didn’t fight Max for the right to have more space in the sun, he just took pleasure in what he had in that moment. I don’t know if cats are capable of gratitude, but he sure looked like a picture of it!
As I watched the two of them today, I realized that I so often treat good things in life the way Max responded to the sunshine. I race around trying to capture the good moments so I can keep them. I want to possess them, so they can never leave. I frantically dig and them trying to analyze where they came from to ensure that I can make them happen again. I fret about the likelihood that the moment won’t last.
I would be so much better served to be more like Sadie. To settle in and enjoy the moment for all its worth, with my face turned toward the source of all good things radiating gratitude. I could soak up every morsel of pleasure and contentment available in that moment. How much richer life would be!