Wednesday, April 20, 2011

True Freedom

"The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day." 

--David Foster Wallace, from Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology newsletter

Woah! Is this a definition of parenting or what?

This is not the post I was preparing for today. The post I was preparing for today is one I have been writing and wrestling with for over a year. I just can't seem to get it right. 

But while sitting on my couch, surfing to avoid the inevitable working on this piece that just won't come together, I found this quote and it sang for me. 

At the same time I was being serenaded by my cat, mewling outside his cat door waiting to be let in.

I have had this cat since I was 24 years old, which makes him ANCIENT for a feline. He has lost most of his teeth, his fur is matted in places and he is a bit forgetful and VERY picky about what he eats. 

I spend a good part of every day letting him in and putting him out. Putting down food for him, which he rejects so I add a little water to it. He licks at it a bit and then looks up at me as if to say, "That's it?" So I add more water or open another can or rummage around in the fridge to see what "real food" I can find for him to try. 

Then he ambles into the bathroom for some water (he likes to drink out of the bathtub tap). He mewls furiously until I come into the bathroom and turn on the tap for him, which I do. He takes a couple of licks and then mewls again, looking up at me as if to say, "That's it?"

The thing is, half the time I have NO IDEA what he wants. Does he want warmer water? Colder water? A more powerful stream of water? Water in a bowl instead (which he has, of course, but never seems to touch)? 

I feel like I have tried all of the above and more, but he just never seems to be satisfied and his timing couldn't be worse. 

First thing in the morning, in the middle of the night, while I am furiously writing before the kids get up, as soon as we get home from wherever we have been and I have a million things to put away and dinner to make and kids to attend to....whenever I really don't have the time for him, there he is, mewling away for some unfathomable something that he wants or needs. 

It reminds me so clearly of what it was like to have a baby in the house that I almost have flashbacks. 

This is exactly the way I felt when parenting my first baby. Useless. Confused. Frustrated. Bothered. I had no idea what he really wanted and how to satisfy him so I did my best in between periods of "trying to get stuff done" to meet his endless needs, but there was no way to know for sure what he really wanted and how to give it to him so I spent a lot of my time feeling useless and frustrated. 

Even back then I had a feeling that true freedom did not mean doing exactly what you want to do in each moment, but rather choosing freely to do what needs to be done in each moment. This quote feels like confirmation from The Universe and encouragement to keep going, to keep working at it until that freedom comes.

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