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.
Har har har har!! Knocking over his water bowl Every.Single.Day! I so relate! I have claw skid-marks around a corner that leads up a flight of stairs. Jeffrey likes to knock things off of any horizontal surface when he wants food. Yoko will paw at my face, waking me from a sound sleep. Yet, like looney-tunes, the steam out the ears quickly turns into that silly ear to ear grin accompanied by big guffaws at their antics. I think the ability to swing back from one extreme helps with forgiveness. Ah. Note to self. Laugh at myself more.
I’m thrilled that I get to keep in touch with you through your blog!
Thanks, Kate. Yes, taking life and ourselves less seriously can seriously improve our experience of things!
Susan, lovely story about Rufus. I’m so glad that you are so accepting of his antics. I wonder, though, if “forgive” is the right word here? If Rufus is, as you say, “just being a cat” then he isn’t doing anything wrong. But doesn’t forgiveness imply wrongdoing? Imposing uncatlike standards of behavior on our furry roommates, now that would be wrong! Seems to me Rufus is a lesson not in forgiveness but in acceptance and that you’ve mastered it well!
Thanks, RC. Very good point. I think that acceptance often comes with forgiveness (though not always). I don’t necessarily think that we can only forgive when there is wrongdoing, which to me implies negative intention. Sometimes, the most powerful forgiveness happens when we are hurt or disappointed by someone just being themselves or at least not having any malicious intent. In forgiving them, we accept them and accept the fact that sometimes people hurt or disappoint us – it is, in fact, the one thing we can count on!
[...] cranky that Rufus scratched the wood table I recently refinished, ate the funny Passover card I was going to send to [...]