Two steps forward and one step—in the crap. If I said “one step back”, someone might mistake the meaning. And make no mistake, I’m not referring to dancing. When I take a step back, it’s into a mess of some sort. Funny how life takes me down a peg whenever I start to feel confident, like I can do anything. That’s when I find out I can doo-doo anything.
Last week I entered two writing contests. One was about Boo-boo, my cat who died of toxoplasmosis in October 2009. I’d been putting off finishing Boo-boo’s story for a long time. The story was fiction, in part. But the name and manner of death were real. Boo-boo’s story began when my husband found a tiny tabby kitten in the back of our trailer after he emptied out the trash at the landfill. This kitten wasn’t big enough to eat the rat or half-snake its wild mother had left with it. Hubby named the kitten for its mom’s mistake. She never returned to her baby.
After failing to get the kitten to drink milk from a bottle, I put it in with our semi-tame mother cat’s litter of five. It worked. Though two weeks younger than the other kittens, Boo-boo thrived and ended up on top of the cloud of orange fluff. And he grew into top-cat of the neighborhood. We found other homes for all but one kitten, Furball, from the mother’s natural litter, and he would have nothing to do with her. Boo-boo, however, became her constant companion. He always had her back, as shown in the picture. He helped her gain courage to not take off running whenever a human approached. She even followed him inside the house on occasion. Until he died, at the age of 7.
I didn’t mean to turn this into a sob-story, but all good things come to an end, at least in mortality. With three cats and who knows how many raccoons eating the cat-food, no one noticed Boo-boo wasn’t eating until too late. One day, he almost fell over when I reached down to pet him. Hand-feeding kept him alive while he took medicines, one after another, but nothing worked. He went blind, and then he died. By that time I felt like crap for all the suffering he went through for two long months. But I couldn’t put him to sleep without trying to help him recover.
That was a giant step back, into the crap, for me. I seemed like any choice I made was a huge mistake. In reality, some situations have no choices available to bring a pleasant outcome. I think Boo-boo’s illness was one. Other situations depend upon someone else’s choices, not mine. I can blame myself, but a pity party will change nothing for the better. How depressing.
So I choose to take action of some sort, even if it’s an undeserved self-reward like a walk around the block with a fantasy book. Do that twice, and I’ll earn an even better reward, ice-cream with fudge sauce, a banana, and almonds. Too bad, there’s not often time to do those things in the middle of an unpleasant situation, so I hold that thought until I get through the worst of it. If there’s chocolate anywhere, I’ll sneak a bite, or read the comics. Don’t laugh, but it even takes chocolate for me to face working on finances.
For any bad situation of more than short duration, I pray. Perhaps not an option for someone who doesn’t believe in God. But for me, prayer brings hope—and patience—and an attitude adjustment. I saw a Facebook post the other day from a friend who was feeling depressed. Strange, how the timing coincided with me finishing Boo-boo’s story, which made me feel sad all over again. So I had to pray one of my gratitude prayers. Those are the ones when I don’t allow myself to ask for anything. Instead I thank God for all the blessings in my life. By the end of that list, I feel better every time. Next time, I think I’ll thank him for my two feet, which allow me to take two steps forward for every step back.
Today I was feeling sorry for myself because in the last few months, I spent at least a week fixing my laptop to run like new. Then it died—on Sunday—at church, when I tried to play an mp3 file for choir. At first I wondered how it always turns out my good deeds get punished. But now I decided there’s a better way to look at it. My laptop died in a good cause, giving service to others. I hope I go out that way, stepping forward in service of a good cause.