The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
– Mohandas Gandhi
Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.
– Oscar Wilde
Rufus Wainwright (nee Pipsqueak) came to me when he was 4 weeks old, a pound and a half, and beyond scrawny. His eyes sealed shut with an eye infection and slowed by malnutrition and a cat-cold, I initially thought Pipsqueak would be an easy addition to my previously cat-free home. I could not have been more wrong.
Named after the famous singer-songwriter, Rufus the cat was also a momma’s boy and troublemaker. And, as it turned out, a teacher.
Even before his eyes opened and he finally got some meat on his bones, Rufus assumed the role of house-wrecker, getting into anything and everything, especially where he wasn’t meant to be.
Whether it was walking back and forth at the bottom of my closet, transmitting his glossy white coat to my somewhat excessive number of black pants; scaling my window treatments like so many rock walls; leaping 10 feet to the top of my brand new wooden cabinets, leaving back-paw claw tracks; or, every time I turned my back, jumping into my kitchen sink and swatting at falling drops of water.
Though I’m not generally an angry person, this feline has made me blow my stack more times than I can ever remember doing before. I’m talking steam coming out of my ears Looney Tunes-style. But for some reason, I find it incredibly easy to forgive him.
And forgive him, I have. No matter what he does – and in the last week that has meant shredding my shower curtain liner, tearing open an Amazon.com box and devouring the tape that sealed it, spilling his water dish…every…single…day, waking me out of a dead sleep by cat-barking, and tear-assing around my apartment at 4 am – I always forgive.
Which makes me wonder why I find it so difficult to forgive myself. Rufus, after all, is just being a cat – a cat who is particularly gifted at being annoying but essentially just a cat. And I am just being human – when I get scared or stressed, when I overreact or say something stupid, when I am selfish, lazy, or boring. Like Rufus (and the rest of us), I deserve forgiveness.
Kitty Carlisle, the singer and actress, had a morning ritual of looking at herself in a mirror and saying, “I forgive you.”
I think that Kitty was onto something.