Inspiration from Angels with Fur

catbath.jpgMy cats are a great source of inspiration to me. They seem fairly content without many possessions, they do what they want to most of the day (poke around in small holes for rodents, then sleep), and they don’t complain much as long as they get plenty to eat and have someone pay a little attention to them now and then. One of my cats, Dinky, is truly a miracle cat. She came to our home over 16 years ago with her brother Oscar. She was already 3 or 4 years old, and had a big piece of wire holding one of her leg bones together that could be felt through her fur. A tiny runt, she was picked on by Oscar, then a succession of bigger cats, all of whom she outlived.

What I admire most about Dinky, however is how she dealt with great adversity. Several years ago she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer growing in her leg, which she had gotten from the anti-leukemia vaccine. Her leg had to be removed up to the hip in order to save her life, and the vaccine manufacturers were very happy to pay for the whole operation. I wondered how a little cat like her could manage on just three legs, but the vet assured me that a back leg was something she could limp by without. Deep breath . . . well, better 3/4 of a cat than no cat at all, so in she went for the surgery.

That evening a good friend brought her home from the hospital (I couldn’t bear to see her pathetic bandaged body). Over the next few days Dinky set an amazing example for me that I remember to this day (mostly because I can hear her thumping through the house . . . have been thinking of changing her name to “Tripod”). The first things she did when she awoke from the anesthetic swoon was to meow for food, eat some, hop over to the nearest human to be petted, and purred. And she has been a well-rounded cat ever since! No fits of depression, no years of psychotherapy. She didn’t blame others, or sit starring glassy-eyed out the window thinking of better days gone by or how unlucky she was. She just went about the business of living her little cat life. Wow. Most humans would have spent a good decade or so licking those wounds, possibly spiraling into a pit of despair from which there was no escape. But not my Dinky. She showed me what it means to be a survivor, to focus on living life day to day. She reminds me every day that today is a gift . . . that’s why it’s called “the present”.

May we all have as much good sense as Dinky when meeting life’s inevitable challenges.

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  1. Great perspective. I ordered the book a few days ago. Can’t wait to get it. My motivation was lacking earlier in the week and after reading your site felt renewed. I’m a PM in IT and remembered what it was that I found fulfilling in my job. I’m looking forward to catching one of presentations. Do you have anything planned for the remainder of 2008?

  2. Dear Dan –

    Holy guacamole, where the heck did the year go? I am finally figuring out how to moderate comments on my blog . . . really tough digging through 527 comments for inexpensive gold jewelry to find your lovely comment. Please forgive me!

    I’ve been doing a lot of workshops and presentations in Tokyo, Europe and a few places in the US . . . but not much in the Silicon Valley lately. Let me know if you have any place that I could do a workshop or presentation. If my schedule permits I do 1 pro bono talk a month for worthy causes.

    Have a Scrappy Holiday! – Kimberly

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