“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
– Antoine de Saint Exupery, The Little Prince
On page 27 of Room to Write, Bonni Goldberg tells us that it is not only with our eyes that we see. Our inner eyes are comprised of three things: instinct (“previous experience”), intuition (“gut reaction”), and imagination (“mental flash of possible scenarios”).
Look around at anything you literally see and visualize it more robustly by using the above three ways of “seeing.” In doing so, we should observe which means of seeing is most difficult for us versus which comes easiest. Today, I’m going to focus on a random image I viewed out the window two nights ago at a cocktail party.
Standing poised atop the intricately scrolling wrought iron railing of a second-floor terraced house window, the Ninja Kitty remains frozen with all four of its paws aligned in a perfectly straight line. It holds its balance there for perhaps ten minutes, frozen in fear (or is it a calculating calm?) as it assesses the situation: having tight-rope-walked itself to where the corner of an exterior wall juts out, separating the ledges of two different flats, Ninja Kitty stands with its two hind paws on the railing above one ledge while its front paws have traversed to the part of the railing where the second ledge begins. At its middle, then, is the corner wall that, though an inch or two away, surely feels like a blade brushing against its fur, threatening the cat to jump as though it’s just walked the splintering plank of a creaking, renegade ship.
Ninja Kitty appears to have three choices: 1) leap off toward the sidewalk, testing the validity of the old conception that a cat will always land on its feet, 2) moon-walk backward to try getting back onto the first ledge, or, 3) keep easing forward enough that it can attain the leverage it needs to leap onto the second ledge.
Still the blonde cat hesitates, and I can almost perceptibly make out the “Fuuuuuuuudge” thought-bubble about to burst on the sharp tips of its ears; reflecting off the vertical slits of its pupils are the illuminated graphics of a mental decision-tree database, running through iterations of calculations as the cat sizes up its variables of physics. Vectors and velocity methodically slide and sort and file away in Ninja Kitty’s mind until it’s the make-or-break moment. This is happening. And…NOW! Ninja Kitty bows slightly and launches from its hind legs to alight gently and fully on the second ledge.
Victory is the feline’s, but, before it can even get its bearings and exalt in relief, there is a rustling at the shade drawn over an adjacent French door. A flat occupant, I reasonably presume, who must have been looking on in peril from an unseen vantage, yet doing so impotently with no attempt at aiding in rescue. Just as I judge the day-late and dollar-shortness of that cowardly individual, the dark pointed ears of another house cat materialize from underneath the shade. Then and there, Ninja Kitty’s humility over its recent, dangerous, and embarrassing predicament is vanished, if it existed at all—within split seconds, the cats are rearing on their hind legs and clawing at each other through the glass, staking their outdoor/indoor territory as though it was one and the same. Smack, scratch, scrape-scrape, they continue batting at each other with electric intensity, and, before I know it, Ninja Kitty is haughtily heaving itself back up on the railing (looking for a moment like it was about to do pull-ups) to no longer give this enemy the time of day.
And there it was, standing poised (in the opposite direction, this time) atop the intricately scrolling wrought iron railing, frozen with all four of its paws aligned in a perfectly straight line. This was the point at which I looked away, disinterested. That cat either knew what it was doing or didn’t learn from history and was thereby doomed to repeat it. I conjecture it is living on its fifth life at most.
Ah, that was a fun little romp, though probably doing no justice to the profound quotation that opens this post! And I imagine I could have taken it further and deeper if I’d chosen a human subject (sorry, PETA).
The whole scenario was amusing to actually watch, though (the glasses of wine I’d already consumed probably adding to the hilarity of the moment), and yet I can’t deny that I was simultaneously looking on in horror. I couldn’t help but imagine the possibilities left to the cat in this seemingly impossible dilemma, yet my instinctive impression of how it was apprising the situation and would ultimately act was based on previous observations of cats and their cautious, arrogant mannerisms, as well as my intuitive understanding of what it means to be “catty,” as that feisty bitchiness is part of my own nature when I’m confronted 🙂 Monkey has claws!