Friday, 8 July 2011

We Might Be Giants

I was out walking the other morning, when I was suddenly transfixed by… a streetlight. 

I’d seen the same one and many just like it countless times before, but this time I stopped and stared at it. It wasn’t because it was shining so brightly it had caught me in its glare like a hypnotised rabbit – in fact nothing to do with the illumination from it at all - but because of its height.

I looked up at it, gauging – in relationship to my own height – that it must have been around ten meters, and I thought: “That’s how tall I must look to a cat.”

I imagined a huge, lumbering humanoid bounding over towards me, saying: “Come here, little human! I just want to give you a kiss and a cuddle.”

I would immediately call the Ministry of Defence and request an airstrike. And they’d send it.

With that sort of difference in size, you’d hardly expect the approaching ogre to be gentle, would you? To be able to pick you up without squeezing the life out of you; to ruffle your hair without accidentally snapping your neck?

No wonder birds fly away. It doesn’t matter how kind a heart you have – I would make a quick getaway, too, if something the size of an office block was approaching.

It should really come as no surprise that kittens let out that very worrying ‘mew’ when they’re picked up and dragged into the sky.

And try to empathise with the fright of a spider when it sees some mountain-sized figure with a cup and a piece of paper chasing after them?

Yet, you watch the average human when they’re playing with their pets, and how delicate and soft their touch is (unless it’s rough and tumble with a dog) or how carefully they hold a bird with a broken wing, or oil in its feathers, in their hands.

In the vast majority, we are a caring, kind, considerate and compassionate species, with an immense appreciation of life.

If we didn’t care, there would be no happily rehomed dogs, no kittens and cats rescued from trees, no mass efforts to save oil-soaked shags* after environmental disasters, or hosing water onto distressed, beached whales, sitting with them and comforting them while waiting for the tide to come back in. There would be stains of former spiders everywhere.

* Shags are goose-sized dark, long-necked birds similar to cormorants. Always gives me a titter, mentioning them. Juvenile. Sorry.

We are giants to these beautiful creatures in more ways than one.

Many times, I’ve heard people say, about their cats or dogs, that these animals show them complete and utter love, without judgement or criticism or any condition attached…

Do you see why this is, though? It’s because we show them complete and utter love, without judgement or criticism or any conditions attached.

If a cat could express itself, vocally, in English, it would probably say something like: “I don’t know why you love me as much as you do, but I love you, too. Now, can I have some din-dins, please?”

Compare a relationship between a human and a human, compared to a human and a pet..?

If, five years ago, your cat had peed on the television and shorted it, you wouldn’t – all that time later – hold it against them, would you?

If your husband or wife did it, you’d probably have divorced, and you’d be telling your friends, up to this day and probably for the rest of your life: “Well, it was the time they peed on the television which stands out as last straw in our marriage.”

If you’d stood on your dog’s paw and it had turned and snapped at you, you wouldn’t say to it, years after: “I can’t believe you did that. I’m never, never going to forgive you.”

Yet, in an argument with a human, perhaps in the heat of the moment, hurtful words are spoken and held on to… rarely forgotten… played over in the mind again and again and again.

So… why do we perpetuate conflict with humans when we let misdemeanours slide so quickly with our pets?

It’s another trick of the mind. We are capable of forgiveness to all, but we selectively hold these things against our  fellow humans, when we would let go of them with animals.

Another thing I realised… a cat lover is a cat lover… a dog lover is a dog lover… a bird lover loves birds. There are many different types, colours and personalities amongst those species, but we generally don’t have a sense of prejudice against a particular colour or breed.

How absurd would it be for some woman to love her ginger pussy ** but have a bitter hatred of grey or black cats? Or for a guy to see his male dog trying to hump another male dog, and being outraged that the pet he used to love was displaying homosexual tendencies, so he abandons the dog in the street or calls for it to be put down?

** Juvenile again. Sorry!

I find it very worrying when people announce that they hate cats, or they hate dogs… it’s a strong sign that they’re of a generally hateful nature, however unconscious that nature is.

We could learn so much from the relationship we have with our pets… in that love is love; it is expressed without demand and without condition. Mistakes are quickly forgiven and we do not judge them by colour or actions, however curious we may find them.

Imagine if all in the human species could treat their fellow humans with such unconditional respect and love?

We’d be living in Nirvana.

And… you know what? It is possible. We could have it today if we all woke up to ourselves.


  1. This is why animals are better than people. At least people who are not conscious.

  2. That in itself is a statement of judgement and separation, though, Matthew - both lead to the Dark Side. ;-)

  3. We could all learn from these precious animals, love them so!! And thanks for the very touching and oftentimes funny perspective :) As I said before, truly inspiring, looking forward to the next!

  4. Ah, thank you Meowie! You're excellent encouragement and very much appreciated. :-)

  5. Les, you would like my raven pussy (hehe), just kidding, I, umm...don't have a cat, but I understand what you mean about judgment of each other, whether it's based on racial, cultural or other differences.

    Hate is such a strong word, and it takes a lot of energy to hate something or someone. In the end, the damage is primarily directed at ourselves when we hate - and that's never a good thing.

    Lovely post as always, Les.


  6. Indeed, it's like the smile and frown thing again - it takes so much extra energy to hate than it does to let go of all judgement and bigotry and just accept people for who they are.

    Just trying to imagine what your raven pussy would look like...

    Um... going for a cold shower.

  7. Great mind you have. That's a lot to get from a street lamp. Enjoyed it very much.

  8. Hehe... yeah, it was I guess. Thanks! :-)

  9. i like! never thought to much about our size compared to animals, very interesting ;)

  10. Nor have I, before. It's a bit weird, eh? :-)

  11. I was a goner with the photo - but I loved the post. You wrote what floats around under my skin everyday. Thank you. :)

  12. Thanks for reading, Jo. Glad you liked it. :-)

  13. Hi Les
    Great post, very true + I enjoyed reading it.
    There is nothing so #pricelss as being able to spend time with our pusscats (or our pets) I dislike the word 'hate' in any context... hmm? ...I hate 'hate' . Some say ti with such venon and whn it is directed at certain types/colours of pets etc, it really disconcerts me.
    Keep it up hon ;-) arf,arf
    Suz xo

  14. Thank you, fair lady! Arf, arf? Good grief! :-P xo

  15. Wonderful post. I admit I'm not overly fond of dogs, but I don't hate them. Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only human around who doesn't squash bugs, too. Hmmm... Anyway, loved this. Thanks.

  16. Hehe - there are at least two of us, on the non-squashing front. If there's a spider in the house (and as long as the cats don't see it first), it's always taken outside with gentle care.

    The only thing I'd deliberately squash are midges (Scottish mosquitoes)... but they attack in clouds of tens of thousands and are nasty biters. They're so tiny, and so many, that it's not possible to pick them off my arms and head, so it's to Midge Jesus for them! ;-)

  17. I literally laughed out loud at "It was the time my husband peed on the TV that was the last straw in our marriage."!! Well, I surely hope it would be!! HAHA Awesome.

  18. Great post! I sit around and think like this all the time, but can never get it down in writing nearly as well as you do here. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Beautiful, humorous, and of course enlightened. I'll be back for more. I too help bugs out the window and sometimes feed ants. When I squash one, I try to make it quick and now and then say something like, May you have an easier life next lifetime--or soon evolve into one that doesn't have to crawl or bite. And mean it.

  20. I liked your story very much. I love animals, but I really have no desire to live with them. I was a zookeeper and a hostler (took care of horses)but I don't like the hair/fur around my house, not being able to go away at an hour's notice. It's like having a small child. My kids had cats growing up and they runed furniture, screen doors and window screens. My daughter has a dog I absolutely love, but I don't always want to get up and walk him, pick up poop, and keep him off my baby blue leather furniture. I don't think that makes me a bad person though.

  21. I loved your story. I just lost my beloved very special friend Weaver, a beautiful black cat with two white whiskers to myelodysplasia. We humans could learn a lot from our furry friends if we could just step down from our lofty tower for a moment and judge not and try a little TLC to all... what a wonderful world it could be.


  22. My father used to say that people who didn't like cats were a rat in a previous incarnation. : )

  23. Lovely post, well written, humorous, insightful. I'm enamored by the idea of unconditional love, which some have found in their families, but it alludes them in romance (by "them" I mean "me," to be clear). Is it an unobtainable ideal? I'm not sure, though seeking it out is a noble & good goal. The fear is in giving it & it not being reciprocated. Perhaps sticking with cats is a better plan.

  24. I love the way you think..... am getting to expect now that your blogs often start with something then move on to some other thought the original concept has sparked off....sorry, that's explained pretty crappily, I've been writing all day and am a bit 'written out'!

  25. My laugh out loud moment was your description of an office block to a spider. I'm a fellow feline-a-holic and insect rescuer. Cats are unpredictable, somewhat independent, amusing, cute, clean and cuddly. What's not to love?

  26. I imagine that we don't exist to spiders. An office block doesn't get our attention, it's background. lol

    Sort of like the story of the ships in the distance not being noticed by the Native Americans because they hadn't seen or pondered such an existence. Then the Europeans came to the shore, and that got their attention.

    Between a 6 inch dragonfly that followed me around in a bookstore, and a fat little dog that liked the back massage I gave him, I know that animals bring love whether they receive it in return or not.

    Imagine if a husband peed on a television, and the wife said "ah, it was a shitty t.v. anyway. It is time for me to monitor my husband more to make sure he gets to the bathroom at night, instead of thinking the t.v. is a toilet"

    Love in its purest forms gives us perspective & empathy. I imagine a cat or a dragonfly's perspective being "I am just going to love and be loved. "

    --Adrienne Gravish

  27. I do love your blog posts so much.

  28. The thing about the divorce over your spouse peeing on the TV was hilarious! OMG. So funny. BTW, if they the world didn't care about animals you'd still have my Aunt and Mother. Between them they have about 22 cats in a house they share, so no need to worry;)

  29. What a beautiful post. I can so relate to everything you said. Spotted your tweet a few minutes ago. Glad I dropped by.

  30. Love this piece! I'm thinking now about how one of our six cats (all rescued strays) who is soooo tiny, squeaks with fright whenever we pick her up....I'm beginning to image how she feels. I love the sensitivity and depth of observation and imagination in your writing - inspiring.

  31. It's a nightmare at 5 in the morning when I need a shower before work and am scouring the bath for any signs of microscopic life. Some call me obsessive. But life is life whatever the size of its physical expression.

    You can't miss our cat though. He is the biggest, most handsome cat in the neighbourhood. Eyes the size of saucers. Love 'im!

  32. An interesting perspective...the cat thing. I often wonder about the "ego" of yellow jackets. Sure, they have stingers. But can you imagine encountering something that would be -- relatively speaking -- as tall as a skyscraper and thinking, "I'll get in its face and pester it."

  33. Thoughtful and inspiring.

  34. Renee Dwarkadas13 March 2013 at 05:52

    Just yesterday we had a discussion about dogs and cats and on reflection if you look into an animals eyes....they speak no differently than a human and vice versa...the thing is to walk alongside...expecting and giving nothing but an acceptance of what is...By the way your metaphors are amazing....Smiles...

  35. Wow, that was intensely accurate, and held me spellbound for a bit.

  36. Animals never judge,question or harm us emotionally like members of our own species can. Great post!

  37. I often wonder the same thing myself! Why can't people behave toward each other like we do with our pets? Animals don't hold grudges.