I hiss, I flash my fangs, I sink my claws into the couch cushions.
I arch my back, let the current of my rage raise the fur along my spine, crackling and bristling with electric charge.
I swagger over to the big dogs, swat them on the nose, watch them yelp and cower.
Chased and cornered, I puff up my tail and spit. Scruffed, I writhe and squirm and shred the skin of the hand that holds me down.
And, regal, then retreat to lick my wounds, rearrange my ruffled fur. And rest.
Do I enjoy being a feral cat? I don’t think ‘enjoy’ is the right word. But do I admire the feral cat within? Hell, YES. It’s the part of me that insists on survival, fights for it tooth and claw.
Feral cats impress me: they do not exist to be loved, or even liked. They live for themselves and require no permission, no approval, to live. Many of us are strays, and more of us should be.
I’ve been considering this lately, as I reflect deeply on the sort of person I am or may become. Often, I focus on the negative — I know what sort of person I don’t want to be, and so far I’ve devoted most of my energy to avoiding what feels like genetic destiny — or DOOM, if I’m honest with myself. There are an awful lot of $#!+birds roosting in my family tree, ones I have no desire to emulate.
But it’s hard not to question my own validity, because of the feedback I receive from others, both on a personal level and through the cultural messages lobbed at me like grenades. I start to wonder why I must always be the one to work and change and grow, altering my behavior and/or entire outlook on life. Whereas — for example — My Fella, by his own estimation and that of others (or so it seems), is ALREADY BRILLIANT. No introspection, no effort required.
I’m the one who’s failing at my assigned task, which — as far as I can tell — is pleasing others, ensuring their comfort, and at the cost of myself.
But what do I actually want?
Often, I want is to dash into the woods, scavenging scraps for the litter of kittens I’ve whelped in a thicket. I want to lurk at the periphery of civilization, observing but not participating. I want to be the pair of eyes glowing back at you, daring you to come and catch me.
Other times, I want to be safely inside, curled up on the sofa, with a lap to sprawl across and a hand to pet me until I purr. I want to be fed regular meals and stretch out lazily in a spot of sunlight. I want to be adored for basically no reason.
And then there are the times that I want neither, or both at the same time, or else something completely different that I can’t even imagine or articulate, because I haven’t had the chance to identify my own needs and desires. I want to explore and experience, but I also want to do so, secure in the knowledge that I have a home to return to.
I don’t know what I seek, or why. I don’t know anything, anymore. Not that I ever did, but at least I had guesswork and illusions to guide me. Now…I just don’t know.