It has been a very long time since I have had a cat on my bed. The last cool cat that favored my life, was named Hamilton. But everyone called him Bud. I’d like to say that his moniker was Alexander Hamilton, and that I was decades ahead of the Broadway-Chic. But he wasn’t named after the President. No. He got his tag from Margaret Hamilton, the wonderful actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West, in The Wizard of Oz.
He started out a little bit on the wicked side. That was the reason. He was sick, and grumpy, at first. And then he became very wild and malicious. On the day of my grandmother’s death, he ran up my leg. I was wearing shorts. I tore him off the skin of my thigh, looked him right in the eyes, and said, “I don’t have time to it today. But when I get home tomorrow, you are going to the pound. We are done.”
I can remember it as clear as day. Exactly where I was standing, and what I had on, in our townhouse on Bigger Road in Centerville.
When I next got home, I swear that cat had changed.
From that point on, we became fast friends. He would greet my at the door like a dog. He stayed with me all the time, and talked to me endlessly. He was a beautiful orange and white Manx. People who knew about the breed told me they “talked” because they had no tail to express their array of emotions, as other cats did.
We once had a guest come to our house. They thought we had a baby in the basement. It was Bud, just sitting there, chattering away.
I thought of him last night. As I was in bed reading. I moved my knees, and it reminded me of his antics. He would chase the “big monster” under the covers for long periods at a time. The mound would move this way or that, or stop altogether. Sometimes, a different bump would pop up. His eyes would go wide black, and his little rear would rev up. He would spring and pounce. And slay the big creature under the covers.
I thought it was a great game, I was playing, for him. Me moving my knees around. Him, chasing. But the thought that dawned on me last night — “What if he was doing it for me? Just. What if. He was doing it for me?”
It made me cry. I loved that cat. He, in fact, pulled me through some very rough spots. I owe him a great deal for his kindness. He was a beautiful part of my life, for many, many years.
I learned a term this morning. It is “kathekon.” A term of the Stoics. It has been translated many ways, but the essential meaning is “the simple and perfect actions on the path to virtue.” Essentially, good actions.
My Bud was full of kathekon. That little guy. At least, from that moment of transition, when he turned from kitten-wild. I learned a lot from him.
We too, can learn a lot from watching the good people, and beings, in this world. If we so choose, we can be one too. It simply means taking one task at a time. One event. One happening. And just for that “thing” we take the path of decency, and righteousness. And then, the next thing and the next. Making little steps along the way, each filled with goodness, kindness, and as a result, the perfect action. We can bud, and grow.
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
― Desmond Tutu
“It is good people who make good places.”
― Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
“Goodness is about what you do. Not who you pray to.”
― Terry Pratchett, Snuff