Chauncy, the uglY cOUsin tuxedo cat, has been demanding a greater role in our work here in Flyover, USA. He is tired of just being the pretty face of memes. Lacking the resoluteness of a cat, I have given in. Now Chauncy is the official ugly philosopher at uglYcOUsin.com. I told him we were trying to be funny and clever, not overtly philosophical on this site. With one glance he told me that he was pleased that I said “trying.”
So, his job will be to give tips for better living to all of us inferior humans and also any squirrels in the audience. After all, at first, second, and third glances, his day-to-day existence seems more fulfilling than my own.
His first tip: A direct route is no route at all.
Too many humans make the mistake of walking straight from one place to another place. They fix their eyes on a destination and go there. By doing so, they miss the world around them and all the possibilities that might await. How do you know what’s to the left if you look straight? How do you know what’s behind you if you continue to walk forward?
Walk like a wave hitting the beach. Walk in a scribble. Then you can get a broader range of perspectives and discover possibilities you never knew existed. If you hurry to point b, you’ll only find point b. Meander in the general direction of point b, and you might find that f is much more satisfying. There’s a baby rabbit hiding in f, a cricket in j, and a really nice bit of shade under a chair toward the end of the alphabet.
Pause every so often. Sit as if you’ve forgotten your destination. If you don’t know how to do this, watch your grandmother stand in front of the refrigerator as if in a trance. If you walk without ceasing, your mind will only be able to focus on the walking and the end goal. Pausing lets you take in what the rest of the world is doing. People often mistake cat pausing as indecision. I say it is a meaningful weighing of options.
And while you’re serpentining through the world, wind around whatever is about you. Rub against things. Experience them with all your senses. Put your scent on other things, and let their scent blend with your own. Then you can be part of the greater world.
Don’t be afraid of not reaching your destination. A new destination is a destination after all. Wherever you land is where you should be. How can you get to where you’ve never been if you keep going to the places you’ve been?
And while you’re at it, run for the sake of running every so often. Walking a steady pace is as bad as walking a straight line. Neither are natural. Neither will excite your spirit. Watch a child look from thing to thing, stop, start skipping, sit on the ground while holding an adult’s hand. Kids are like us cats. That’s why we fear them so much. But they know how to approach life. I don’t have to tell them to lick and sniff things or to avoid staying on the sidewalk.
Sidewalks are for conformists. Sidewalks are built by people who want you to walk a straight line and not discover too much of the world around you.