What Spike taught me


(from david)

We inherited a cat.  I didn’t want a cat;  in fact I had said often enough, and loudly while the inheritance was in the offing, “I don’t want a cat, I don’t want a cat.”

I don’t have anything specific against cats, I just don’t get them.

I got one anyway.  Spike, the solitary stalker.  Was there ever a cat so like Kipling’s Cat in the Just So Stories?

“… when all the Tame animals were wild, the wildest of all the Wild animals was the Cat.  He walked by himself and all places were alike to him.”

Spike arrived just like that Cat, who announced to the Woman:

“I am not a friend, and I am not a servant.  I am the Cat who walks by himself, and I wish to come into your cave.”

And come into our Cave Spike did.

It’s not just me about cats.  Here are the Coen brothers on casting the cat in Inside Llewellyn Davies:

“Different cats performed different scenes, depending what they were prepared to do: run up stairs, nestle, wriggle, whatever. ‘The whole exercise of shooting a cat is pretty nightmarish because they don’t care about anything. They don’t want to do what you want them to do,’ says Ethan.

“Even the vulture they used in True Grit showed more willing. ‘That was even by vulture standards probably a stupid vulture, but I would take a vulture over a cat. The cat was just horrible.’ ”  (SMH 18/1/14)

Spike is not such a nuisance, it turns out, as long as you don’t expect too much from him – he spends a lot of time walking by himself, or sleeping off his solo exertions. Spike has in fact taught me a useful lesson:  the value of co-existence.  You might not end up with your desired outcome, like no cat, but you can, I’ve discovered, peacefully co-exist with something even if you don’t get it.  You can therefore stop stressing about it.

I’ve applied Spike’s lesson to some other things I don’t get, and now choose just to co-exist with, like:

  • The bloke who showed up at the start of 30 k’s worth of almost deserted fire trail in the deeply quiet and peaceful bush, with plenty of challenging sections, then plugged his iPod into his ears before he took off
  • Battery powered salt and pepper grinders – how much effort is it, really, to give the thing a couple of manual twists?
  • Having to explain in detail why you’re not drinking just at the moment, and it better be a good story too.

However, Spike, your generous lesson notwithstanding, you would do well to remember how the Cat finished up in the Just So Stories, having cut a comfy deal with the Woman but having neglected to do so with the Man and the Dog:

“Then the man threw his two boots and his little stone axe at the Cat, and the Cat ran out of the Cave, and the Dog chased him up a tree;  and from that day to this, Best Beloved, three proper Men out of five will always throw things at a Cat whenever they meet him, and all proper Dogs will chase him up a tree.”

(PS – check out how long Spike’s tail is in the photo)

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