A long time ago (1999) in a land far away…a gentle farm dog burst in to the barn with a surprise for the farmer. In his slobbery jowls rested an injured kitten. The kitten was emaciated, its fur matted with dried blood. We don’t know what happened to the kitten; perhaps it was the lone survivor of a coyote attack; or had been caught in a piece of machinery. All we knew was that it was a mess, and limply swayed back and forth in the dogs grasp. Then the farm dog gingerly laid the listless form at the farmer’s feet.
Coincidentally, a young family was at the farm that day enjoying a fall family outing. [Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. – Albert Einstein]. The family adopted the cat and named him Mobi-wan.
Nearly 18 years later, Mobi-wan is an integral part of the Hammond family. We’ve relocated a few times (five different addresses, four different states, across two different countries), and Mobi-wan’s company and disposition has made each transition a little less stressful. He is one cool cat.
Mobi-wan’s attitude is unflappable despite his surroundings. Always easy going. Always uses his cat box. Doesn’t hiss and spit. Gets along with everyone and everything. He’s been kind to every critter we’ve brought home: the dog (Chihuahua-pug mix); the bearded dragon; the Chinchilla; numerous snakes we’ve caught and released over the years; and to all the other rescue cats we have fostered. Mobi-wan is reliable; doesn’t run hot then cold. He’s the same uber-chill-easy-going personality ALL the time.
Which got me to thinking: Why do I sometimes think Mobi is the greatest cat ever, yet other times think he’s the worst cat ever?
For example, when I come home from work Mobi always does the same thing: meets me at the door; follows me around meowing; cuts in front of my path in an attempt to herd me towards his food bowl (doesn’t matter how much food is in the bowl). Same routine every day. And at the end of the workday, I think his antics are ENDEARING. In particular, I like that he meows to me the whole time; it’s as if he trying to talk to me. Love it. In the evening I tell him “You’re the greatest cat ever!”
But here’s the weird part…every morning Mobi has the same routine: follows me around meowing; skitters between my feet on the stairs; tries to herd me towards his food bowl. But in the morning his behavior is not endearing, it’s ANNOYING. Drives me crazy. In the morning I tell him “You’re the worst cat ever!”
With some reflection, I realize that this isn’t about Mobi being the greatest/worst cat ever. This is simply about my ATTITUDE. Because, nothing changed from last night to this morning. Mobi didn’t change. The only thing that changed were the hands on the clock and my attitude.
- I choose to encourage Mobi in the evening when I get home from work; talking to him; scratching his ears; etc.
- I choose to scold Mobi in the morning when I am fumbling around in the dark looking for my first cup of coffee.
Presented with the exact same behavior from Mobi-wan, I’ve been choosing two different attitudes.
So, what does it all mean? For me, this has been a practical realization of what people mean when they say “Choose your attitude.” It has become apparent that I really do choose my attitude towards external factors (i.e. Mobi, my kids, my coworkers, the weather, my job, etc.). And even though I can’t control Mobi, I can control how I respond to him.
When I think about this lesson on a larger scale, it is empowering. Truth is, I can control very little of what goes on around me. If I can’t control how my ancient feeble cat behaves, I sure can’t control the, traffic, the economy, my neighbors, fuel prices, etc. But it is empowering knowing that I can choose to be at peace with anything by choosing a positive attitude.
Now what? If nothing else, this article/reflection is a NOTE TO SELF; a reminder that I am choosing my attitude every day. That I need to make some better choices about the attitudes I pick-up or put down. I get to make the most of whatever tomorrow morning brings. Even if a coyote tries to eat my cat, I can choose my attitude. My attitude is not left to coincidence. My attitude is my choice.
And choosing my attitude is important, because no one knows what type of cat the dog will drag in tomorrow.