Saturday, May 14, 2022

King of Cats


This is my childhood cat, Gato.  He was a Siamese cat that we found at a animal rescue place on Shippan Point in Stamford. Back then, he was scrawny, had fleas and was most definitely cross-eyed.  Plus, he had a rather pronounced crook at the tip of his tail. 

Gato was my cat. He followed me around. He patiently listened to my troubles.  He tolerated being dressed up in baby clothes and strolled up and down the street.  Once, we brought him to a pet show at the Stamford Museum and he was so appalled by the indignity of being put on display with a bunch of other cats and dogs, bunnies and birds--well, he leapt out of my arms and ran straight into the woods.

We searched and searched and thought he was lost forever, but the next day we found him on the other side of the woods, his leash encircled around a tree, meowing to get him out of there to safety and to his own brand of freedom.

Around this time, I read a book about a cat who saved a king from being poisoned in the middle of the night by tying his tail about the king's drinking cup.  This way, the cat was awakened when the culprit tried to murder the king. The cat was rewarded for his efforts and made "King of Cats".  However, he was left with a crook at the end of his tail where he had tied it on to the king's drinking cup. I believe the book said that all cats with crooks at the end of their tails are descendants of this remarkable cat. I'm not sure. It's been a long time.  (If anyone knows this book I would love to hear about it!)

I decided that Gato was a descendant and indeed that Gato was The King of Cats!  And so, naturally, I placed Gato on top of my head, and I paraded him up and down the street, shouting to all who could hear me--KING OF CATS! KING OF CATS! KING OF CATS!

You would think that the neighborhood would be pleased and honored to learn that the king of cats resided among them.  But, no. In fact, my best friend came out of her house with her cat, Jacques on her head, and said that HE was the king of cats. I informed her that Jacques couldn't possibly be the king of cats because he didn't have a crook on the end of his tail. But, she wouldn't listen to me--because she hadn't read the book.

This is the power of a good story. The imagined becomes real. And it can stay with you for a lifetime. In fact, I would say my reading about this heroic cat with a crook at the end of his tail has always inspired me to do brave things despite my own shortcomings. 

Creative friends--your assignment for this week is to re-look at what you consider your own shortcoming and re-imagine this thing as your own unique gift, your secret superpower. It's the thing that makes you special, perhaps even a hero. Bring this so-called shortcoming to your art. Do not hide it, but rather celebrate it. You'll find that others will be inspired to celebrate their own "shortcomings" and together we will see that these are not shortcomings at all, but rather our own unique creative gifts.

Oh, and by the way, Gato went on to attend Bard College with me and lived to be a ripe old age of twenty-one. Not bad for a cross-eyed Siamese with a crook at the end of his tail!

As always, have fun.




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