A Sense of Safety

As the news from Japan daily grows more and more frightening, we see a surge of unscrupulous optimism.  That being:  Our tendency, as a species, to make up tall tales, in order to enjoy a false sense of security.

A friend invites others in San Francisco to come here where it’s safe.  But we in Northwest Arkansas are not far from a nuclear reactor we passed the other day on our way to a gig – and we just had a 4.7 quake, not far from that reactor, a week or two ago –

We blithely write on our blogs – never noticing that our friends at WordPress battle daily to save us from hacker bot-highjackers.

Life is not safe.

Arkansas has the most amazing spider population.  Look at this web:  On the ground!

See the dark hole in the middle?  The spider hangs down that hole, waiting.  The spider’s prey, out for a morning forage . . . is surprised.

Here’s a challenge:  To hold paradox.  We are simply not safe – and yet we simply cannot go on without a sense of safety.

I watched Bugs wrestle with this the other day.

I’ve been wondering, for some time now, about bald spots on his back legs.  I haven’t seen him chewing on himself out of anxiety or anything like that – so is he wearing out his fur because he sits for hours on his haunches, on hard surfaces, watching Cat TV out the window?

The other day I bought him a bed so he could watch in ease and comfort, and maybe the fur on his back legs could grow back.

Look at this beauty.

I put Bugs’s blankie on it, so it would smell familiar.

Here’s what he went through, on his way to a sense of safety.

What the hell is that?

No paw of mine is going anywhere near it.

If I want to turn around, this is what I do.

Well maybe my front paws might take a chance.  But I’m definitely not happy about this.

My back ones?  Can’t see much of an improvement.

Well maybe my haunches.  But my front end will have to gnaw on the plant.

[The next day:]

I did it.  No biggie.

(You can really see the bald-spot here.)

But, still, if I want to get some really meaningful REMs:

So it seems to me that we all are, essentially, in Bugs’s dilemma.  Scared.  In a mess.  Looking for the attitude we can cultivate to find our way, to make the mess bearable, less overwhelming.

Some folks tell themselves stories of safety, thinking themselves safer than others.  Others talk about disaster as punishment for sins they themselves did not commit.

I prefer coping strategies I’ve noticed lately:

A friend battles a brain injury, in the hospital for weeks on end; her husband writes of her spunk in fighting for survival there, as she once fought a corrupt Mexican cop.

An acquaintance, coping with a cancer diagnosis, writes of meeting that challenge with more resilience and internal resources, and not disappearing into anxiety or depression or despair.

A blogmate writes of her companion-animals’ quirks, in a loving and reassuring tone.

Other blogmates post links to donate relief-money.

To each, his or her own.  We all are, essentially and fundamentally, in a mess.  But perhaps the mess, regarded — aided by empathetic others and with the reassuring attitude of our choice — can become bearable.  Or at least less-overwhelming.

About nadbugs

Anita loves cats. This must be because she, too, has had nine lives. She’s been dancing since she could walk, she was a commercial artist and advertising producer, she earned a third-degree black belt in Aikido, she is a drummer with the Afrique Aya Dance Company, she is an attorney, and she’s a meditator and a devoted student of Nonviolent Communication. She also spent one lifetime sidelined with a devastating back injury in 1992. Since then – FELDENKRAIS METHOD® to the rescue. The FELDENKRAIS METHOD is all about dreaming concretely – thinking intelligently and independently by way of a gracious and kind physicality. The work affords all who study it a process by which to reach, with movement, into the mind and the heart, to make nine lives into one whole being.
This entry was posted in Empathy, Philosophy-Psychology, Things Cats, Humans Do. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to A Sense of Safety

  1. this was beautiful and thought provoking….there are so many challenges going on every day for so many of us that others are not even aware of. We all plod forward and make the best of bad situations just as Bugs did. That photo of him sleeping is too precious…..just gorgeous…so serene…..

    Thanks for posting about one of the ways to donate to Japan that is on my blog and so many others. I originally saw it on Your Daily Cute and Pawcurious.


  2. nadbugs says:

    Your presence helps so, dear Caren. x0x0 right back at you.

  3. Eleanor says:

    This is the post that has hit home stongest for me so far, thank you. I’m a very introspective person, I spend far too much time examaning the inside of my own head. I think it’s good for me to read your posts, to see what someone else finds when they ‘look inside’ and it also gets me out of my own head for a while, broadens my thinking.
    …And more lovely Bugs photos. His expressions in these are wonderful.

    • nadbugs says:

      Dear Eleanor, this is exactly what I meant when I wrote that we’re helped by the empathetic presence of others. The empathy theory that lifts my spirits so much — Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication — emphasizes that when empathy is at work, you can’t tell who’s giving and who’s receiving. That’s how I feel about your comment here. I love the “inside of your head” as you express it in your blog, and you appreciate me, and round and round we go. And the painted ponies go up and down. Joni Mitchell, Eleanor, Anita NadBugs, all readers here. . . . What companionship!

      And Bugs’s winsome little “I did it” sideways glance, in “the next day” — priceless, I think. He is too much.

      • Eleanor says:

        My blog is a place for me to forget my troubles and just take pleasure in the antics of my cats. It has been really good for me to meet this little blogging community here. I had no idea what starting a silly cat blog would lead to. I am, as you can imagine, pretty cut off from the world I knew. Though I don’t regret my decision to move here it can be hard at times. I really treasure this inter-blog companionship we’ve found.

  4. Elizabeth Bullock-Rest says:

    After reading about the disasters in Japan and Libya tonight, I found your picture story about Bugsy and his new (scary, unfamiliar) bed very comforting. You could easily make it into a children’s book. Life is scary…so how do we keep our eyes open but not be paralyzed by fear?

    My other thought was, “Gee, what a spectacular pet bed. I bet Anita spent more money on her cat’s bed than we did on our son’s (used) bed.”

  5. nadbugs says:

    Dear Elizabeth, what a great idea, a children’s book! A book for the part of us that still feels like that scared little being, in the face of what we’re looking at these days.

    Bugs condescends to thank you for admiring his new bed. His comment: “This bed cost peanuts compared to the magnificence of moi.”

    Anita Nadbugs speculates: Ryan may be a little more modest in his expectations?

  6. MelanieJ says:

    Thank you for the post to my blog. It’s funny to think of myself as reassuring, because I am in reality one of the most anxiety-ridden souls on the planet. But maybe through that, I can reach out to others and spread the reassurance around. An awesome thought.

    As for life not being safe but needing to feel that way… yeah, such a paradox. I guess it’s a balancing act – we need to be aware of the dangers around us and around others, but need to be able to feel reasonably safe from it to keep from being paralyzed into inaction.

    • MelanieJ says:

      Er, thank you for LINKING to my blog. Brain shutting down now. Leaking out of ears.

    • nadbugs says:

      For what you say in your first para, Melanie — a separate post, which I’m planning on writing today.

      For what you say in your second, and I hear echoes in Elizabeth’s understanding too — My point, exactly, but stated in your all’s words succinctly, elegantly, perfectly. I am just marveling over here, at how deeply understood and at peace I feel as a result of being heard like that. Fantastic. To me, this is the currency of life, its value. I’ve been paid! WHOOP! Let’s celebrate.

  7. Lila says:

    I know this is a serious post, and I totally took its message to heart, but being new to this blog I just have to say this about your kitty: Squeeeeee!!!! The cuteness!!!!!! That last picture…omg…I just want to make myself a kitty pillow and snuggle up with him!

    • nadbugs says:

      Lila, how fantastic to welcome you to this blog. A separate post is coming, where I can unfold my enjoyment more. For now: SQUEEEEE back at you.

      Hang on a sec. I believe Bugs wants to be heard. Bugs?

      Ms. Lila, if you must snuggle, fine. Whatever floats your boat.

      You’ll probably be doing that without moi, tho. I’m OK with invasion into my personal space only up to a point. And I’m on my last nerve over here. Human, she — how to put this. Gushes, I think would be the word.

      Euuwww, frankly.

      But she feeds me. So I put up with her. To a point.

      What have you got to offer?

  8. Rumblepurr says:

    I’m so honored, thank you very much for the shout-out.

    Bugs my friend, you’re a kitty after my own heart, you gotta sleep how you gotta sleep! 😉

  9. nadbugs says:

    Bugs: Human makes such a big deal out of being heard? Rumbles, she needs to learn from you. Freedom! Yah! Individual self-expression! Sleep how you gotta!

    Nadbugs: Right. Leaving room for self-expression. I keep forgetting there are TWO selves over here.

    Bugs: [Sigh.] We have 2.5 selves over here, Human, how many times do we have to go over this? Bugs 1.75. Human .75. You always were hopeless with math. Specially fractions.

    Nadbugs: Whole hog. It’s easier.

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