(This post is part of a series chronicling my Women on the Verge journey. Read all updates in the series.)
I’m going to start out, Gentle Reader, with an outlandish proclamation in which I hope you’ll indulge me: Cats can fly. Oh, I know they’re wingless, but for the sake of argument, would you not agree that a creature who can effortlessly “launch” itself seven (or more) feet vertically from the floor to a shelf near the ceiling has, in a sense, defied gravity in the same way as does flight?
Several years ago, we were privileged to have a cat named Desdemona – Desi for short – who could perform the exact aeronautic feat I’ve described here. One moment she’d be standing beside the refrigerator, the next she was safely, silently atop it. She never hesitated, not for a moment. Desire, action, destination. No wiggle-butt preparation-to-jump. Like the Nike slogan, she would just do it.
Sadly, Desi left this earth in 2015 and she and her fearless feline spirit is sorely missed around here. Fast forward to today, when we still are privileged to share our home with sweet, lovable cats. Our current configuration includes five year old Eggs Benedict and two year old Fee. Eggs is a gray domestic shorthair as was Desi. And while he’s quite adept at leaping from the bed to the window sill or from the table to a nearby shelf…he’s no “Flying Desi” by any stretch of the imagination. Nonetheless, his little sister Fee is clearly awestruck at his jumping ability. I’ve frequently spied her watching in what can only be described as amazement as he leaps gracefully up or down from one surface to another. Honestly, I don’t think she knows that she could.
But of course she can. She’s every bit the cat he – and every other feline – is. She’s simply not aware that this ability resides in her because she’s never tried; never tested her own natural cat-ness. I watched her just today, staring down from the window sill at the floor as if she were contemplating a leap off the rim of the Grand Canyon. I saw her start, poised for action, then suddenly chicken out. I could almost sense her inner dialogue:
“Nope. Too big a leap. What if I can’t? I’m scared so I won’t even try.”
Instead of a dramatic flight to the floor, she opted for the safe, well-rehearsed route – a short hop off the window sill to the hutch, then a jump down to the ground. It was kind of sad for me to see her not take that leap that I know she can. Instead of merely being aware that other cats can do it, she could at long last know that she herself could do it. Would she be proud of herself? I wondered. Would she come to a new understanding of what she was capable of? Would she feel like a more full-fledged cat if she could find it within herself to take such a leap of faith?
She doesn’t know she can fly…because it’s never occurred to her that she could.
She doesn’t know she can fly…because she’s never tried.
She doesn’t know she can fly…because she considers flying to be for others, not for her.
She doesn’t know she can fly…because she’s afraid.
She doesn’t know she can fly…because she’s only Fee.
But what could she learn if she leapt?