If you’re anything like me, you love change.
You can’t get enough of it!
Every day, you wake up and pray that the Universe will totally rearrange every aspect of your life so you can feel completely disoriented, discombobulated, and disenfranchised.
HA! As if.
Change is upsetting. It’s disruptive. Yes, it’s often in service of the greater good, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it when it’s happening.
Or do we?
As always, I look to my Guru, my cat Lucy, for clues about how to respond to change in the most advanced and enlightened manner.
And, once again, she did not disappoint.
The Guru recently underwent a change that had to do with her outdoor habits.
When the Guru first came to live with me, she was able to easily jump this fence that borders our back patio.
This meant she could go out and explore, cruise the hood and school the local cats with her sophisticated Guru stylings.
But then the Guru got older. True to the prediction of a pet psychic, the Guru became more and more interested in lounging, and less and less interested in leaping.
To ensure that the Guru could still get around the ‘hood and continue to school the neighborhood cats, we installed some steps on the patio fence. The steps enabled her to heft her Guru body up and over the fence, thus continuing her existing routine.
In time, however, it became clear that the Guru was no longer interested in schooling, and was only interested in scarfing.
The scarfing in question involved some wet kitty food that one of our neighbors leaves out for stray cats.
Upon waking each morning, the Guru would lounge around the house for a while and then sit at her cat door, waiting to grace the back patio with her presence.
Then she would disappear for about five minutes and come back smacking her lips.
She would spend the rest of the day on her kitty bed, happy and content.
Even though we weren’t thrilled about the less-than-healthy brand of cat food that the neighbors buy, and even though we marveled at the Guru Girth that expanded by the minute, we continued to allow the Guru to have her morning vice.
After all, what harm could come of it?
What harm, indeed.
It was when the Guru developed a limp – from leaping around on fences and rooftops that were now beyond her capacity as a hefty thirteen-year-old feline – that we finally had to do something
Normally, the Guru would have no interest in pushing her bulky body beyond its capacity and subjecting herself to the trip between our house and the neighbor’s cat food bowl.
But such is the nature of addiction. It pushes you to do things that are, perhaps, not in your best interest.
We had been through this with the Guru in the past, and it wasn’t pretty.
But what to do this time?
Finally, I hit upon a solution:
Remove the steps.
After all, the only reason the Guru was able to make it over to the neighbor’s house in the first place was because of our codependent friendly move to put extra steps on the fence. What would happen if we removed the steps?
I’ll tell you what would happen:
The Guru’s life would be utterly and irrevocably changed.
She reacted to the change in the manner of a sulky teenager. She insisted on spending all of her time on the back patio.
Okay, if you’re not going to let me score drugs at the neighbor’s house, I’m going to hang out on the back patio and smoke cigarettes all day.
In this case, the Guru’s version of smoking cigarettes was to lounge on the back patio.
This took several different forms.
Sitting and sniffing:
Crouching on patio chairs:
All-purpose patio lounging:
And, last but not least, sitting/lying/sleeping in The-Cardboard-Box-That-Started-Out-As-A-Holder-For-Plants-But-Turned-Into-A-Guru-Lounging-Spot-Extraordinaire.
The Guru’s old pattern of sleeping in the house all day was a long-forgotten memory. Indeed, after years of sleeping in her kitty bed for twenty-two out of every twenty-four hours, the Guru would now go nowhere near the thing.
At night, she insisted on sleeping on our downstairs couch, even though we had, in the past, trained her away from the couch and into her kitty bed.
We tried putting up lots of pillows to deter her from her new-found slumber spot.
Although we never caught her in the act, the remaining clumps of cat hair showed us that the Guru was crawling over the pillows and finding a nice cozy spot for herself on top of the heap.
Finally, I tried something else. I put a blanket on the couch so that the Guru – and all of her cat hair – would have a special place to sleep. This kept the kitty hair contained to one area and allowed the Guru to have her slumber spot of choice.
Throughout all of this, I kept comparing the Guru to a feisty teenager, smoking cigarettes on the back patio and trashing her parent’s couch with her cat hair.
Yes, her limp had totally gone away and her Guru Girth was shrinking by the minute, but she was making us pay for it with her obstinate behavior.
And then, one day, I realized what was actually going on.
The Guru was embracing change.
In an instant, her life was irrevocably altered. No more scarfing the neighbor’s food. No more pushing her body past its limits.
What did the Guru do in the face of irreversible change?
She embraced it.
She said, The patio is my new home. And the downstairs couch. That’s my other new home.
The Guru also adopted other new behaviors in line with her new lifestyle: She started climbing the patio trellis every night and hanging out on the roof of our house. She took to inspecting the bushes in hopes of catching a mouse. She became calmer and more affectionate.
What I was calling adolescent brattiness was actually enlightened ninja repositioning.
You’re gonna completely change my life? Okay. I’m gonna make it work for me.
When confronted with change, the Guru did two things:
First, she accepted the reality of the change.
And, second, she changed in order to make the external changes work for her.
I think if every single person on the planet followed the Guru’s reaction to changing circumstances, we would have world peace within a week.
And that’s why I call her the Guru.
How do you react to change? Share your comments below!