Lunch Break


butters

Butters, the cat of NewsReal's Managing Editor.

Random Thoughts About a Cat:

Why is there something instead of nothing? How is it that existence exists? Such questions are compounded in wonder by the miracle of our water planet, rocketing through space, where life exists and flourishes.

Why is there such a thing as LIFE? How can life exist and flourish?

A philosopher must be one who wonders. He is an appreciator, relishing the fact of existence, accepting–even if painfully–that you cannot go beyond existence in your reasoning. Existence exists: this is reality’s final redoubt, which reason cannot conquer. Reason cannot go beyond it, behind it.

But this is not cause for frustration, like Sisyphus and his rock. Rather, accepting existence as an absolute gives reason a foundation, a guide to TRUTH, which allows it to explore the vast universe and uncover its secrets.

Thoughts like these went through my mind each day when Mama Cat and her most-recent brood of yellow kittens paid their meal-time visit to my patio. How can there be such a thing as LIFE? How can life exist? Why does it flourish? And we must remember the impermanence of life, both in the long-term and in the short-term. On this planet, for example, all life forms will cease to exist when–millions of years from now–our sun loses its heat, expands, becomes a “Red Giant,” and incinerates the earth. In the short-term, few life forms last more than a few decades. Death has a myriad of soldiers.

Life is the most-complicated arrangement of matter in the universe, and it is a temporary arrangement of matter. As such, life ceases to exist with any dis-arrangement of its matter. Life is not, like the matter that makes it up, an absolute. It is not a “given,” not its own reality, not a separate reality. It is an impermanent arrangement of matter. Life is precious because of its evanescence.

Mama Cat’s presence was a stimulus for thought. At first a persistent nuisance, she and her litters became a wonder to me. She was just a skinny yellow cat, but to me something fine was lost to this earth when she died.

MAMA CAT

She’d allow a touch before she’d eat,

This yellow beast in constant heat,

Fending off her tumbling brood

Who followed her to fun and food,

Her flock of alley pedigree,

Saw when to fight and when to flee.

In a queenly pose atop my car

She’d survey the yard and street afar,

Or step across my open door,

Touch a paw upon the floor,

Sniff at wonders all around,

House cats fat and sleeping sound.

But then she’d turn to her world untried,

To uncertainty and storms outside;

For her to struggle meant to thrive,

To be embattled was to be alive

Her tiger soul chose stress and strife,

As if dull peace would lessen life.

How foreign seemed her wild domain,

A land of only play and pain,

Where neither praise exists nor blame,

Nor strutting pride, nor cringing shame;

A place I knew so little of, I won’t deny,

Yet I saw love… didn’t I ?

I profited to hear that purr

Which meant I was in debt to her;

I’m thus enriched by what I owe,

Tho’ strange it sounds to state it so;

Her visit was like a prayer each day,

Don’t ask me why, I couldn’t say.

On the asphalt stretch she died one night,

Killed by a car in blinding light,

An unearthly roar she couldn’t heed,

By an unseen foe with unknown speed;

Dead, though she had never sinned,

Her spirit flown like a song in the wind.

Later, I sat on the patio

Puffing a cigar in the fading glow,

And, rumbling ‘round my creaky chair,

Came yellow kittens romping there;

Now independent, I could tell,

A valiant mother had taught them well.

She had fled my prison, a fugitive

Yet left me memories that live;

So here’s a simple requiem:

This vagrant who had no lives of nine,

Found fire and thrills in her feral realm,

More than I have known in mine.

Goodbye, dear one, from my habitat,

You’ll always be my favorite cat.

–Thanksgiving Day, 2008, Jim Douthit

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