After watching Frida Kahlo, the cat, play the shell game, I thought about trying this with my own cat, Kobi.
Thought about it. Kobi, though primarily socialized by dogs and humans, still remains true to his feline essence. That is to say—he pretty much does what he wants, when he wants, in whatever way he wants. And, at 14, he's beyond responding to the elementary insults that might have sustained the interest of his younger self.
Besides, I'm a believer in not asking anyone to do things I'm unwilling to do myself. And if I'm going to ask Kobi to set aside his resistance to learning something new, I ought to be open to doing the same myself. Oh, ugh.
But wait a minute! Haven't I already been doing just that?
When I worked mornings at the post office, I often needed to pass along new information to my customers. When they couldn't apprehend a convoluted restriction or a change in the rates, I'd reassure them by joking that it was okay—they were only required to learn one new thing each day. If they'd just absorb what I had to tell them, they'd be free to keep their minds empty for the rest of the day. Now this was the motivation they needed to hear!
I was kidding with them, but I've always believed that once we stop learning, we may as well pack up our boxing gloves and head below ground as earthworm chow. So one of my daily obsessions is to read something believe is of no interest to me. A review of anti-perspirants, for example. Or a newspaper article on budget wrangling in a State not mine. A trade magazine essay on the history of rototillers.
Of course, what makes me yawn might be just the thing that gets your pupils dilating. But the subject doesn't matter much. It's all about crooking a toe into unexplored waters and seeing what sort of treasure can be hooked. The tidbits I've snagged and stowed away have served me well over all this time—at the supper table and water cooler, in line for pizza, in the bleachers waiting for a match to start. As happens when children play telephone, it's impossible to predict where one delicious fact might end up. Best of all, I've even created a few poems along the way.
I think I'll find a catnip treat and some walnut shells, give ol' Kobi a try after all. Perhaps I'll even learn something, once I read past the headlines of his bared claws.
Nancy Carol Moody
I'm a poet and a letter-writer. Yup, that kind. The kind who uses pens and paper and actual stamps. The kind who will leave the house with nothing on the agenda but to get to the mailbox before the scheduled pick-up time. The kind who understands that technology is a wondrous thing, but nothing quite beats finding a real letter with a real stamp on it amid the credit card solicitations, pizza coupons and seminar catalogs.