Updated: Jul 11, 2022
I was somewhat begrudgingly playing with my cat, when I looked out the window. The evening hours were our time, and while I cherished our shared ritual, sometimes I just wanted to lay down, get through an entire chapter of my book, zone out to Reels of randos' cats for hours . . . without the desperate meow echoing from the bathroom, and then from the doorway of the bedroom, and then (if I’d succeeded at ignoring it thus far), the ultimate threat: jumping up on my vanity and knocking down something fragile. Most days it didn’t come to this. I’d found a rhythm of tiny tasks to tick off in between marathons of Jaxy Panda playtime. We’d go at it with the cat lure, whipping that string with the fake mouse adhered to the end that he went crazy over, wearing him out and following up with a treat plus lotsa “Good boy”s.
“We’re gonna take a break,” I announced in the same perky tone every time we rounded out an epic chase sesh, signaling that the wand would go away, and I’d go do something for me. He’d listen and stretch out on the glazed floor to cool off. I’d tinker, make a cup of tea, get a few pages farther in my book, and then he’d materialize, padding toward me in the dim light, or projecting a very sad sounding, quite dramatic, meow from the doorway.
We commenced again, and I sailed the mini mouse around the room we called his that also doubled as a workout space. Something caught my eye out the window and I paused. The moon was hanging behind the branching silhouette of gigantic, scraggly Aleppo pines across the street. A lopsided oval, like unevenly smoothed beach glass, the yummy rich color of aged gouda. It was imperfect. And breathtaking.
My heart caved and crumbled in on itself. I caught my breath.
How long had my head been down?
Fixated on the cyclical nature of day-to-day doings. Tiny, incessant worries I wore like layers of clothing one required in the coldest of climes. Looking too hard at all the realities.
Obsessing over ticking every box.
Sure, there was Joy. But magic? Reverie? The deep breath of awe?
I siphoned it off. Redirected and cinched myself into this form of seriousness and responsibility, because that somehow meant I was worth something. If my house was tidy and I “moved the needle forward” each day. If I fully committed to adulting, bitching about taxes and keeping up on oil changes. I often donned guilt like a badge, because I’d created a simpler life than many. An ex-friend told me that I was a person with no real responsibilities, because I didn’t have a child or a husband, and it was a good thing that I chose to be a cat mom. Until she said that, I had no idea how much guilt I’d been shouldering already because of that. Feeling perpetually wrong for needing so much downtime, quiet time, alone time. Moving at a pace that felt glacial in comparison to the whole of society. Being supported in a loose, creative career of my own making. Going MIA when I needed to unplug and care for myself in gentle, quiet ways.
I looked at the moon and let it take me.
Because I didn’t want to put myself down anymore for choosing to live in a way that empowered me to thrive.
I wanted awe and wonder. Freedom of movement. Spaciousness. I wanted fun. And steadiness. Rest. Rejuvenation. I wanted my spirit to stay light. Cleanse regularly. And shed the guilt like a sheath of snake skin. I wanted to heal from all the hurt I carried around. The wounds I still needed to write about. The ideas I’d internalized that weren’t my own. I wanted to start living for me. Not sacrificing. Or apologizing. Or shrinking under the opinions of others.
I wanted to rise with the moon, and circle back to myself again.