Getting Inspiration From A Three-Legged Cat

Late one night, a few months ago, our friends’ cat called Poppet dragged herself home with a leg so badly damaged that it had to be amputated.

Our friends nursed her back to health, and with just three legs, we re-named her Hoppet.

I think most of us expected Hoppet to be left with limited mobility and become more of a stay-at-home cat, more helpless and dependent on humans.

But as soon as the wound had healed she quickly adapted and learnt how to run about, play-fight, climb fences and trees and even catch her prey, with just three legs.

I’ve been watching Hoppet’s progress and thinking about how it is that she’s adapted so remarkably well and so quickly.

And I’ve wondered if it’s because, in her mind, she probably doesn’t feel any emotional trauma associated with losing a leg and in no way limits herself or thinks of herself as a victim. She just gets on with how things are now and finds the adventures. Her thinking seems to be that she can still run around with the best of them and who cares if she looks a bit misshapen?

Her thinking focuses on what she can do, not what she can’t. If she wants to do something, somehow she just finds a way to do it, even jumping up onto the garage roof and making her way through an open bedroom window. Because her thinking tells her she can. So why not?

It’s inspiring to watch her, so engaged and full of life.

And like Hoppet, there will be times in our lives when we too have choices in how we think about things. For many of us most days have choices scattered along the way in how we aim our perspective.

How are we seeing our current situation, relationship, job, future or our childhood? If we think about all the negative, unhappy times, then we’ll most likely be able to find many more to add to the pile. If we’re pessimistic then we’ll probably see a cloud in every silver lining.

I can imagine what Hoppet would be doing if she felt like this. Probably too scared to go out again in case a similar mishap happened, curled up, feeling like life was over.

Perversely, if we’re overly optimistic we can run the risk of being crushed with disappointment time and again. What if Hoppet was thinking that her leg would grow back by Easter and sat waiting for it to happen? And then when it hadn’t she’d be devastated and then start believing it would be back by Christmas, surely. Again and again her hopes would be dashed.

But how would it be if we embraced each thing with realistic optimism? What if we accepted the reality of our situation and worked out what was in our control to change, even if it was just our way of looking at it?

There’s truth in the saying “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

Whatever is happening it’s our choice whether we think like a victim or pick ourselves up, do whatever is within our power and grab life by the balls.

I will look to Hoppet as my inspiration, to see things realistically as they are, in that moment, and make the absolute best of them.

As we think it, so it shall be.

 

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One Response to “Getting Inspiration From A Three-Legged Cat”

  1. Peter Docker March 30, 2012 11:26 am #

    This is a wonderful article that illustrates so clearly how the greatest thing in our way can often be ourselves. It also reminds me of the story of Admiral Stockdale, a US serviceman, who was a PoW in Hanoi for 8 years during the Vietnam war. He suffered horrendous conditions and torture, and yet supported his fellow prisoners to ensure that as many as possible survived. He was asked years later the type of person who didn’t survive. His answer: “The Optimists”. His point was that the Optimists would expect to be released by Christmas, or by Easter, or by the following Christmas, and when it didn’t happen, their spirit crumbled and they died of a broken heart. As Stockton said, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be”.

    So, optimism is good, but it is better when it walks hand in hand with a willingness to confront what faces us and to be proactive in working towards the outcomes we seek.

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