Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Requiem for a cat

A cat died some time ago on the highway. The day of this writing the cat was still on its side on the side of the road, legs pointing east. The day before it was on its back with its legs pointing straight up. Two days before it was a little closer to the center of the road, its stiff legs pointed west.

I wanted to put the cat to rest on a little hammock, made from material from the dump-strip along the roadside. I think I saw some rebar and plastic sheeting closer to Bellevue. Maybe the cat would look more peaceful if I used some wood from a smashed crate and an old sweater. Choices, choices.

Every time I have passed by the cat I have wondered: How long will it remain intact? Has anyone noticed its pretty fur with soft tones of gray? Why is it still there? Did it have such a nasty disposition that even predators won't take it? What was it thinking? If I were the cat I would wish I wasn't thinking, or thinking of nothing. I have tried to think of nothing, but found nothing harder to imagine. Why did this bother me in the first place? Was nothing more important?

Is it anthropomorphism? Maybe, I can see how I feel sometimes—dead and stiff on the side of the road, thousands of people a day speeding by, unconcerned, myself there in all my dignity, toes up without a tag. Will no one build me a little hammock? Will anyone stop and give me the dignity of pushing me off into the ditch with all the trash, or will I be pulverized into the pavement like the fox last year? What can I do? What will I do? Can I think of nothing, like the cat? Whoa, I am thinking like the cat, I think. No, the cat is thinking nothing, only I am thinking. What is nothing like? It's probably nothing, because it isn't, or is it? What is it? Nothing? Surely. I should stop trying to think of nothing and drive the school bus.

Six times a day I pass the site of the demise of the poor cat. Now I try not to think of nothing, since I cannot imagine what nothing to think is like. The cat has been removed from the road, but I know exactly where it is, reverse-anthropomorphism has put that cat in my thoughts inside my head.

I have done something about it, though. I put a little hammock around it by putting these thoughts in writing. I named the cat "Nomo" and set it free. Now I appreciate life more fully, even though I may feel of little more worth than a cat no one cared about. Now the cat is alive again in my thoughts. What is the alternative? Is it nothing? Surely it is, what isn't? What? Just drive!

Ed Sellers


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