Thursday, May 8, 2008

brrrrrd and chatterchatterchatter

daffodil the white cat was staring out the back window this morning - the usual - looking at birds under the big pecan tree. she was doing the i'm-looking-at-a-bird-or-a-varmint chatter. emily dickinson called it a "chuckle." do you know that sound? when our cats see a bird or a squirrel or lizard, their mouths open and close really fast and they make a sound like "chatter chatter chatter" or "click click click" or something like that. it's not a meow; it's like it's coming from the back of their throats. their eyes focus, like a hunting dog pointing. but then daffodil, the young cat, looks around frantically at us, then back at the intruder, then back at us again. frantic. or just fired up. (olivia, the old cat, doesn't look back at us; she just chatters.)
we think it's adorable. we all say "is it a bird?! get the bird! get the bird!" only it sounds more like "git thii brrd!" because for some reason it evolved that way. and we pet the cat in question.
i don't know if the cats think the i'm-chattering-at-something-i'm-instinctively-wanting-to-kill-right-now moment is adorable. they look a little panicked, or like they're in an altered state. they may feel really awful. or it may be exhilarating. or confusing. they can't get out there - they are both inside cats - they can only look through the window. and - what's the emotion during a purr? or a hiss? or an "i'm going to sit on your lap now." or "get that other damn cat away from my bowl." i wonder what they'd say to us if they could talk. i wonder if they even know.
have you been there? "i'm feeling something about where i am right now, and if i could figure it out i would tell you but i don't know what it is!" followed by "aaaugh!" or "shutthefuckup and leavemealone!" or maybe it's "i? do i look unhappy to you? why, that's not true. i'm perfectly fine." or there's blaming. or shaming. or asking lots and lots of questions rather than sitting with what's bothering you.
all ways not to articulate what's really going on - and probably because we don't know. we're chattering at an invisible opponent or mysterious stimulus. there's something over there! i can see it! i can't get to it! i think i need to attack it! but i don't know how!
sometimes olivia and daffodil will just turn away from the window, like they're a little dazed. head rush. sometimes we say, "oh, it's okay - it's just a bird. it's okay" and pet them, reassuring them. the world is still safe.
i think i've been there too. and maybe i'm there a lot more than i realize; maybe LOTS of what i think i understand, i don't at all. and then later i feel dazed. or dizzy. or i get an emotional head rush. it takes me a while to rest up and look back out the window. (although sometimes the cats just have to keep looking and chattering - it's instinct - they can't stop.)

i don't think god is saying "git thii brrd!" to us; i think god turns us loose in the back yard and says, "go get 'em." i think what god wants is for us to go. that thing that's driving you crazy? go get it. learn about it. pray. dig in. look inside yourself. what's happening.
if we don't have the awareness or tools (olivia stays inside partly because she's de-clawed. it'd be unsafe for her to attack a big bird) to deal with it - there's a spiritual or emotional glass pane separating us from the thing we're compelled to react to - instead, i think god scratches the backs of our heads and says, "it's okay. it's nothing you have to fix right now."


nonprofitprophet said...

I think I identify with the dog more. Me (the dog), and God throwing a stick and me responding by fetching or refusing to acknowledge he threw the stick to start with. So God turns me loose in the backyard - its up too me to play. ~npp

Chiron' said...'re scaring me now.


You think I really don't have to fix it right now?

I know I behave that way when I get the scent-trail of something I want to-scratch that- NEED TO investigate/understand/attack
and I have no doubt that I wind up with a sort of semi-conscious detachment to my normal life until the point where I can either resolve what triggered the bloodlust or sit back with a contented belch while trying to hide any stray feathers in my whiskers. Sometimes, I gobble something up so fast that it doesn't sit well with me, and that puts me in an altered state as well.

For me, this week, all I can say is that SOMETHING passed by the window, and there's no point in me trying to pretend that I didn't see it. I just have no idea of whether to report on what I have seen. Sometimes the incredible has a way of making me doubt my own perception. I wouldn't believe it at all except for all the feathers I keep finding lying around and the fact that I'm feeling mysteriously full.


Anonymous said...

I used to have a cat that I named "Thomas." He was a big, outdoor cat. Save for being neutered, by all appearances he was pretty much ruler of our yard and surrounding area. But, of course, looks can be deceiving, and I was quite surprised when it came to my attention that many times when I would go outside, Thomas would be cowering under my suburban in the driveway. As I observed further I learned more. Up above, in the trees was a group of big blue jays. Whenever Thomas would dare to venture out from under the vehicle, one of the blue jays would swoop down and peck Thomas right on the head. The rest of the jays stayed in the trees and squawked quite a rukus. It was unmistakably laughter. Poor Thomas was trapped until the birds got bored or until he had to make a mad dash for the garage or other cover as I drove off. All in good fun it seems, until I notice a couple of times a dead bird in the driveway -- Thomas' revenge. I don't know what this has to do with your story, but they seem connected. The world God has made certainly is a complex web of instinct, fate, natural laws, life and death drama unfolding relentlessly. Yet, for all of that, there is the persistent contemporaneous presence of beauty and even fun. A bird would risk it all for the chance to peck Thomas. A person would stand in front of a projectile traveling ninety + mph, just for the chance to hit it with a stick. So, it seems there must be something of God in our instinct to "fix it" and survive and something of God in the fun of going to "git thii brrd."