Life Lessons from Huey?
Who is Huey? More correctly, who was Huey? He was our wonderful cat for nearly 13 years. Huey became much wiser than me this morning, as he passed from this world to the next. He knows what awaits us, and I can only guess. This is a post about how my cat taught me about being a better human.
Challenges and Victories
Huey started life with the deck stacked against him. He was left at our local no-kill shelter, ARF, at the age of one day, suffering from cerebellar hypoplasia, a gift from his mother who had contracted Distemper. With a sick mother and several hungry siblings, it took the medical resources of an experienced team to keep him going. Huey and I didn’t know each other then. We met when he taught me his first lesson.
Be Genuinely Enthusiastic
I’m pretty hard boiled, but when tiny Huey saw me in the kitten room of ARF, he climbed straight up my pants leg and shirt. He came to rest on the back of my neck, and started purring loudly, I was sold. Huey, and his brother Dewey came home with us. If you are eager to tackle a challenge, don’t keep it a secret. Little Huey had to tackle that wastepaper basket, again and again, with verve..
Break Bread with Gusto
Eating together is a great way to find common bonds and drop real or imagined barriers. Huey never failed to line up for whatever we were cooking. From curried pork chops to rib steak on the grill, Huey was there, loving it. Our dinner guests enjoyed feeding him, and he responded with (lesson one) genuine enthusiasm. Who can deny the ice-breaking charms of a great meal and a bottle of wine. (Huey drew the line at wine, and did not imbibe).
Huey’s physical challenges meant that sometimes his hind legs let him down. Not forever, but for a time. His response was not disgust or self hatred. Instead, his measured approach was to sit down, relax, and regroup. In the end, Huey got where he wanted to go, and did so with grace. Don’t give up… stick with it and you will succeed – get angry and you will fail.
Be Kind and Generous
We adopted another kitten, named Emma. She was initially frightened and withdrawn. Huey took her “under his wing” and she soon blossomed. Did Huey act on instinct or did he see something special in the kitten? Who knows? What counts is that he made the right move and developed a friend and ally who stood by him for the rest of his life. Most of the time, if you do the right thing by others, they will do right by you. Better yet, you feel great about it.
Be a Friend in Need
Huey’s illness and decline took months, but it seemed like years. His loving friend Emma, the black and white cat seen in the photo, never left his side. Neither did we. When Huey lost the capacity to regulate wind and water, our home reflected our response to his decline. Whatever the challenge, and however you must dirty your hands, be a friend in need. You can accommodate much more than you think you can, so do the right thing unreservedly. In keeping with that thought, support your local animal shelter where cats like Huey, terrific dogs, and other pets are waiting patiently for you to adopt them.
The Bottom Line
I had nearly 13 years to learn from Huey. I have only begun to catalog the positive lessons he offered me. Perhaps your Huey will be a co-worker, subordinate, client, or manager. If you are lucky, your Huey will be a cat. Who knows? The bottom line is to be open to the wisdom imparted by others, regardless of their role or relationship. If I learned all this and more from my cat, imagine what you could learn from a colleague, or even your boss. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear, even if Buddha didn’t say it.