14.9.05

scaredy cat











Scaredy Cat, scaredy cat
run away when you see a rat
- image by J


It's only been one week, but he has changed.

"No longer civil," J concluded solemnly.

He is crouched by the tree, in exactly the same spot as the past few weeks - but his posture says that he will at any moment jump, scoot, spring into the drain - and away. Gone is the open, curious gaze. Maybe the past one week has taught the cat-man to fear losing one of his nine lives to some sick, nasty passer-by.

I guess fear and possession together make a two-edged sword. The more you possess, the more you fear losing any of it. Yet if you say you fear losing nothing, does it mean that there is nothing valuable enough for you to want to protect, love and hold on to? If this fear is so real, how complete or absolute can our possession be? The people, property, experiences, and experiences that become memories (hmm, where do memories go after they leave us?) we think we possess. And on a larger material scale, whole villages, entire cities. If we do not lose them to crashing waves, wars and hurricanes, then to the sure decay of moisture, mites, dust, fungus, viruses, fire, toxins, the sun. I chanced upon this from the L.A. Times:

Houses that have been sitting in floodwater for days face severe structural damage. In many cases, it may be cheaper and more realistic to build new homes than to try to salvage existing homes.

Flooding problems
- Moisture weakens wood and can trigger growth of fungus and mold.
- Sediment and water collect in walls, short-circuiting electrical systems.
- A tilting wall or an askew roof threatens a collapse.
- Appliances suffer extensive damage.
- Contaminants migrate into household items.

Additional problems
- Interior surfaces, including flooring and drywall, are destroyed.
- Brick and cinder block expand and crack; mortar can dissolve.
- Pressure from water and soaked earth can crack or lift the foundation.
- Insects and other organisms breed in standing water.

Elizabeth Bishop gave good advice in a poem to "lose something every day". This way, we woudl get used to it. Because the truth is, like it or not, we do lose or risk losing something every day. At the very least, we shed time and tired cells (oh, sweet fruity youth!).

Yet no matter how much or little we have lost, or if we were numbed to it, it is probably still hard to respond like that man Job. Job, though having lost everything, could still declare this: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

I am not sure I have Job's faith yet when it comes to loss.

Almost a year ago, J's health report gave birth to a fear. We joked about the "abnormal" numbers in the report, calling J's liver foie gras. But for me at least, the joke was just to cover up an anxiety whether something more serious lay behind that diagnosis. It's an anxiety that has stayed with me since then. Last night, an aunt who has always lived with my family came back from the doctor's with news that there's a growth near her ovary. I prayed for her health, but it is still worrying. How I fear losing those I love! If only they all have nine lives...then maybe the fear would go away.

9 comments:

. said...

maybe coming to terms with the fact that one cannot truly own anything is helpful.
maybe it's possible to love,cherish and be willing to fight to protect something but at the same time understand that loss is inevitable. Fear need not be the motivating factor right? =)

Terz said...

Is the cat missing the tip of one of its ears?

Could explain everything. I mean, the last time he/she was so trusting, something got snipped.

ampulets said...

Did not really notice. But she seems to have grown bigger. maybe because she is all crouch up, and ready to spring off the moment I try anything funny. or perhaps, she's had one too many rats? or maybe I caught her in the middle of something with the brown cat, that made his exit really fast. or, is she pregnant?! - TOHA

said...

memories get passed on as stories you tell others, or in some kind of written form i guess!

"remember everything, because only memories remain." - CC.

but obviously, there is no making sure that all memories will endure all of time.

wahj said...

T's theory might be right. Our cats have changed personalities after The Snip (Patch more so than Twinkle). Neutered cats also put on weight.

Alternatively, it could be just be the mood. Cats are famously fickle. Somedays when we come hone, our cats greet us with affection and love. Other days they lift their heads from whichever cushion they're lounging on and look at you as if to go
"Oh. you again."

ampulets said...

Ru: yah, that's why storytelling & stories are important :>

TOHA, T, wahj: i looked more closely and the "snip" was actually by J (TOHA himself) during his aggressive photoshopping!

jing: hmm,fear's not the motivating factor, but it's the end result...so i guess just have to always be reminded, like you said, that one does not own anything - at least not eternally.

said...

"Everything passes. Nobody gets anything for keeps. And that's how we've got to live." - H. Murakami, "Hear the Wind Sing".

BTW, i'm finished with it. pass you next time i see you!

ampulets said...

Thanks! I'm reading his "After Dark"...but in Chinese and it's a Taiwanese edition, aargh. Only halfway through after a whole week... But it's much better than Kafka by the Sea, less obvious literary games and smart-alecky posturing.

said...

cool! i bought it that time i called you to ask which shelf it was on, but haven't got a chance to start yet.

guess its more the fact that its in chinese that's delaying my reading it.

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