Be The Kitten You Wish To See In The World
Ecopsychology will help you find your inner kitten
Why a kitten? If you have ever been around them, you know that kittens are as engaging as your next breath. They are as courageous as any Alpha Male Lion. They are as loving as a silken caress. They are as beautiful as the brightest dawn. They are a cool as the heppest cats. They are as funny as Donald Trump on meth competing in one of his stupid pageants where he tells the world only he can achieve world peace.*
Kittens are as inspiring as a Malala convention featuring keynotes speakers such as: Jesus, Hypatia, Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Jane Goodall. They are as accessible as other domestic beings, which means that although polar bear cubs, seal pups, and tiger cubs are just as awesome, (maybe even better) kittens can be found by your taking the time to volunteer with your closest spay clinic or animal shelter. They are as energetic as a preschool on cupcake day. They can power sleep like Arianna Huffington in full recline on an overnight flight.
They are as playful as, well, kittens.
Kittens are about as perfect as any creature can be. And you should be one. Or be like one, anyway. We all should be as wonderful as kittens. But to be the kitten you need to be in the world, you need to look past all the barriers that make your life a competitive, stressed, artificial construct. You may have to lay down in the grass. You may have to look at a falling leaf with extreme fascination, courageous pounce instincts, and bold action.
Yes. That sounds stupid. That is the point. We are conditioned to be guarded, to be mature, to be fearful of making a faux pas rather than instinctively extending a fur paw. We learn fear — eventually even grown cats do as well — but kittens are the epitome of courage. Their little fur bits stick straight up, they get right in the face of a vicious looking pug, they stand high on their feeble little legs as if they were Apollo age landers. They will enter any box, bag or basket of any depth, with serene and sublime fearlessness.
That is hard for us to do. We spend our entire lives fending off, or absently falling prey to, constant messages of our inadequacy, our place, our limitations, our physical shortcomings, and our constant critics. These messages quickly become internal tapes we forget to shut off.
We are fat shamed. We are slut-shamed. We are race shamed. We are impostor shamed. We are religion shamed. We are ashamed of our lowly status, our jobs, our imperfect houses, families, projects. We are even ashamed of our most cherished secret desires, to be heard in the world. To make a difference. To be fun. To be admired. To see our carefully guarded dreams create better lives in better worlds.
Kittens will have none of that. Kittens live in the moment, something we can only do with constant practice at mindfulness. They would no more put off an instinctive curiosity to see the enchanting contents of that brown paper bag any more than they would skip nap time and a comforting nuzzle on a delicious mommy.
Of course, now you are saying to yourself, it’s perverse to want to nurse on a yummy mum! Yes, that last one is not needed for your actualized kitten self to be effective in the world. But there are other comforting and beautiful connections to the physical world, to people you love, to relax immersed in warm and cozy places, to intriguing adventures, to a vanishing world that is so breathtaking we are moved to action. There are these and other enticements that we can experience if we allow our kitten selves to seek out these connections.
Cats don’t need stylish wardrobes, or wars, or plastic, or trash, or even the internet. They just need to star in it. We can never be as perfect as kittens. That too, is something we can investigate with endless curiosity. How did homo sapiens, the so-called smartest apes, end up in a world where we all feel powerless, often paralyzed, sometimes hopeless, and frequently in conflict, even with ourselves?
How did we go from a species that roamed the globe in intense curiosity for almost two hundred thousand years to people stuffed into over-crowded, impoverished, polluted cities, threatening our own lives with our need to scapegoat the ‘others’ and dominate nature herself?
I would submit that we stopped being our better selves when we disconnected from the living world. We stopped being like kittens when we began to believe that we were superior to them, or somehow more entitled than all other living beings that we need to remember share, and even create, this planet.
Not just greed, or even exploitation through inequality ended our belonging. It was our own inability to see our belonging, and to accept the lessons taught by other animals, and by the pure grace of nature.
Another answer that an afternoon with kittens can provide, is that we disconnected from our natural instincts. We turned them off when we turned screens on. We believe the whole hoopla about how social media is all about connectivity (which it is when used correctly) but we deny the part about our own being, also as animals in a larger, physical world.
Many people, display only the picture perfect polished face-book personas in a fantasy frame that disallows our funny side. We learn to be afraid of being playful, silly, unpredictable, or vulnerable. Even if we scream IN ALL CAPS!!, we often project a fierceness that only betrays a weakness.
Ecopsychology explores our kinship with the biosphere. It tells us we can still relate to our family web that includes bees, trees, manatees, and of course, kittens.
Animals, and our recognition of a more primal and instinctive us that was not always so self-consciously mentally ill, do in fact, create the world that makes biology, that is all of life, possible.
No matter how trivial, or frivolous you think viral cat videos are, the reason we love them is because we all have inner-kittens. We have silenced, soft inner musings (mew-sings?) of our more playful, creative, and bold selves. But dangle the string of any shredded dream you have before your inner kitten, and you will find yourself aching to grab onto to it, and if you respect your inner kitten, you may just follow that string to find what wonders to which it is attached. Squirm your way out of the bag, claw your way to the top of the pedestal you have a right to stand upon, and make your mark in the world without even having to piss on it.
- *Disclaimer, if you find this joke offensive, go ahead and visualize Obama instead. We’re not here to judge, but to cuddle our inner kitty.
It’s True: Please check the little heart, highlight, or comment, and you will see a kitty when you most need to see one!