Friday, January 24, 2014
Farewell to a Paradigm Shift
A first pet is a paradigm shift. Once you bind yourself to a pet, you see the world differently. A pet extends your empathy beyond human relationships; you begin to give thought to how your actions, your decisions, even your mood affect another creature who can never say they love you, they need you, they trust you. A pet will never be enculturated into a common human experience, and yet a relationship with a pet extends over decades, conducted always in the sacred shared space of the home. Pets are like God in that they are utterly other, and yet they are as near to us as the air we breathe, and in the deepest part of us we long to know them and be known by them. Lucy was my paradigm shift. Only after we welcomed her into our home did I learn that closets could be hiding places, that boxes could be beds, that tabletops could be temptations. I learned to recognize the subtle variations in purrs and mews as carrying distinct meaning. I fed her, cleaned up after her, saw to her needs, struggled to correct her bad behavior and reveled in her moments of remarkable serenity. I learned to be more humane, more human, by being in relationship with her. Lucy was a paradigm shift. This afternoon we said goodbye to her. She changed us just by being with us; we see the world differently since Lucy entered our lives. I am a different person because of Lucy, and I'm better for it, and I thank her for it.