After it happened twice in one week, I took a minute. The reptilian brain had kicked in. I prayed to Bastet, the cat goddess, that ancient patterns of superstition would not set truth for me. “When you know better,” said Maya Angelo, “you do better.”
So while retrieving household necessities, i.e. locally produced beer and vegetables, I had to brake for two different black cats galloping across two different roads.
Ritualistic behavior resulting from magical thinking was never my bag particularly after hearing stories of my great grandmother who would not go to sleep until someone checked her closets and under her bed. (My grandfather dryly contributed that she hoped to find someone there.)
Or maybe it was a preschool viewing of The Attack of the 50 Foot Woman whereupon my father cleverly rescued my tiny terror stricken self by updating me that women do not have the power to stride over telephone poles (or do they?)
Many who know me would counter with my belief, no, firm knowledge of ghosts. It’s not the same. Ghosts congregate for me from time to time along the yellow brick road. Steady examples include the advent of my mother’s cigarette smoke, my mother-in-law’s rose perfume and my grandmother’s wavy church vocals. These endearments nurture my soul when I am alone. They say – make of my life what you will…..hopefully the moral of our story, plus or minus, will deliver a high road.
Not one of these mothers liked cats. In fact most every one of my nearest and dearest have shared their aversions for the feline when I was an impressionable child. Even Dalton is allergic.
On the other hand I have no hard fast opinions about cats, only a tad bit of respect stemming from the wilderness behind our house, an endless thicket containing a ca-trillon little creatures who reside there along with feral cats.
These furry animals work hard for their money. I see them slinking from garage to heating/cooling unit proudly bearing a missing ear or a ragged coat. At night, I speculate on their screaming matches. I shed a tear for the kittens that may or may not live to see another day.
So with this scant input, after the second assault, I considered the double warning. Wasn’t I taught that black cats crossing your path were a sign of misfortune? Then I recalled how malleable our underused brains are. I put the reptilian reflex aside. We are such sheep and fear drives the herd.
The enlightened 8 year old grandchild Dalton explained the evidence of growth mindsets to me. Though I feel sure that I was the one in this equation whose role it was to impart truth, I cut myself some slack because we elders have become a bit bogged down with the various beliefs we have concocted or been taught by ones we revere. This brilliant concept of growth mindset, I’m quite relieved to now know, enables Dalton to venture sans fear.
So alas, what to make of a tired old cautionary tale like the black cat? Maybe the time has come to reconsider the message with fresh eyes and see black cats for the spirit guides they are for other cats …. calico cats, pampered cats, fat cats, mama cats…..
Some advice from the Old Testament may apply here:
Leviticus 19:34 – The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt
Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, The Lord is one.
I rest my run-away fear to adopt the story of new found freedom per black cats crossing my road.