As you may recall, Oliver the Cat showed up on our doorstep last winter and informed me and my wife that he was now living in our (his) home. So far, Oliver has been quite reasonable. With few exceptions, he has let us have the run of the place.
You may also recall that I didn’t have much trouble identifying his breed. He’s not a Siamese cat. He’s not an American short-hair cat. He’s an “Alarm Cat.” Oliver begins meowing like a tsunami siren at 5:30 every morning, and if I don’t spring up like a firefighter racing for the pole, then he starts whacking his paw against our bedroom door. Oliver has all the patience of Saddam Hussain.
As it turns out, Oliver is also the first feline Philosophy Professor. Let me explain –
We live in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon is famous for its rain. Out of the 365 days of the year, on average, it rains 366. (This is just in case it’s a leap year.) Well, Oliver isn’t much for rain. He might go out and prowl around the porch, but Oliver’s more of a sunny-weather cat.
So, here’s the deal. We usually let Oliver out through the front door. He’ll make it clear he wants to go out by running straight for the door and then freezing and staring at it like he’s a statue.
When I open the door, Oliver always sticks his head out to survey the situation before he exits. If it’s raining, he’ll do a U-turn and head back in.
But that’s not the end of it. Oliver will then run down the hall to the back door. I will then dutifully go open that door for him as well. You see, Oliver figures that just because it’s raining outside the front door, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s raining outside the back door. I’m not saying that Oliver does this every time he sees it raining outside the front door, only 99% of the time. (I’m guessing Oliver flunked Earth Science in middle school.)
Because I am a little slow off the dime, it took me a while to figure something out. It’s a lesson I keep trying to remember:
Oliver is not the only one looking out the front door and then checking the back. Oliver isn’t the only one who can’t see the big picture. It’s me. Here I am sitting on this little blue planet in this vast unending universe, which I can only describe as an impossibility. And I regularly make the mistake of thinking I have even a modicum of understanding of how it works. In short, I am not much smarter than Oliver the Cat.
Thank you for helping me remember this, Professor Oliver. See you at 5:30 a.m.
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