This morning I woke up thinking about Jasper.
Jasper is our neighbors’ cat. Until yesterday, I didn’t know our neighbors had a cat. But as I returned home late in the evening, two of the family’s humans were wandering the sidewalks, clearly in search of something or someone.
“Did your dog get out?” I asked. “No, the cat. He’s black and sleek – he looks like a small panther. His name is Jasper. He’s an indoor cat. He could be hiding anywhere.”
We all knew it would be impossible to see him once the sun set. They seemed worried, mildly distressed, but not totally panicked. Calmly walking, looking in dark corners. I went to my own back yard, thinking he might have climbed the fence. (And I didn’t know what awful(loud)ness would happen if our dog Lucy caught sight of him.)
As I was standing on our deck, I heard one of Jasper’s people say, “Oh. There he is.” And there Jasper was, himself not the least bit distressed, exploring another neighbor’s yard. He let his person enter the yard, walk right up to him, and pick him up go to home. I imagined he was thinking, “Well, I guess my adventure is done. I was getting hungry, anyway.”
In my morning musings, I thought about the times when I’m like Jasper – wandering off in my own little world, oblivious to the impact on those who care about me, confident they’ll be there when I’m ready to re-join them.
And I thought about the times when I’m like Jasper’s people – distinctly tuned in to my loved one’s behavior, letting my imagination run wild about the potentially distressing outcomes, knowing I probably need to let them take their own risks, not knowing whether in the end it’ll all be just fine.
Things don’t always turn out just fine, of course. But my hope is that, more often than not, they do. And I hope there’s enough wonder (even with the occasional worry) to keep it interesting.