Before I share this true tale, a little context is needed or else I am going to seem like the crazy cat lady…and I don’t even own [nor will I ever own] a cat.
– I often dream in cartoon and/or in great detail. I don’t question weird things because if I’m not living it, I’m dreaming it and if I’m not dreaming it, it has happened or is bound to happen. Or it is just so far out there it will never, ever happen – like extra terrestrial galaxy discovery in a Greyhound bus that gets launched into space by Old Faithful.
– I have been rewatching New Girl and the most recently viewed episodes featured a lot of Winston’s cat, Ferguson.
– I live on a rural-like street in the middle of Indianapolis. Everyone has a fair chunk of land and there are horses, chickens, roosters, dogs, cats, deer, possums, raccoons, a mysterious miniature horse, and more cats.
– It was Drumstick Dash season. This means I was working 80 hours a week to prepare for one of the largest Thanksgiving Day running events in the country. Essentially, I was extremely tired and pretty out of it.
Now, please keep those points in mind as you read…
I had just gotten home from work and a stop at the grocery store. Because of my stubbornness and determination, ALL my stuff was going to be brought into the house in one trip, including getting the mail. I gathered my computer bag and loaded up my arms with grocery bags and walked to the mailbox. I was met with a full box – ads, magazines, junk mail, a letter, and a few packages. As I unloaded my mail, I heard a bell ring. I stopped, looked around, and didn’t see anything so I went back to stuffing my bags with items. I headed for the house and when I went up the porch steps, I heard the bell again. I stopped, looked around, and didn’t see anything.
I am not most people, so the only rational explanation for the bell sound was that I was being followed by a cat that had a bell on its collar. Yep. And before you ask, I’m being serious. This is when the contextual points above are helpful. Please feel free to reference those again at this time.
I make it into the house, put my stuff down and hear the bell again. With no hesitation, I think, “Great, the cat is now inside.” I set off to look for the dumb thing – under beds, in closets, behind doors, and I couldn’t find it.
I’ve got a ghost cat on my hands.
Several minutes pass with no feline discovery. Soon, I got distracted by my hunger and went to make dinner with the hope the cat would reveal itself upon food availability. After finishing supper and no sign of the cat, I sifted through my mail and heard the bell again. I soon realized the bell was not a cat’s collar; it was coming from a package. Hm. You see, I had been eyeing an item from a certain store and when that item was clearanced, I bought the suckers up. I am now assuming they were clearanced because no one wants a bell on their undergarments. Either did I.
So no cat, just me and my mail.
As I walked and jingled through the mall the next day to return the goods, I couldn’t help but laugh because I am a blissful moron. I wish the story ended there, but it does not. What I failed to mention previously is that I accidentally made two purchases of the exact same order. I made one at like 2AM when I clicked ‘Purchase’ instead of ‘Promo Code’ and didn’t realize it. In my defense, they both started with a ‘P’ and it was late. The next happened immediately following the first, but with the promo code. So many fails. When I got to the sales desk, she looked a little confused as to why I was returning two orders of the same items. She asked if anything was wrong with the purchases, so I let her know the bells were not my favorite and caused some confusion last night. She naively asked why, so I told her my story. She laughed and proceeded to rattle the items for all to see as to assure me that my hallucination was semi-rational. The last time a sales associate did that was at Walmart when the only thing a group of us were buying was a toilet plunger. The cashier announced he “always wanted to do this” and dramatically raised the plunger over his head and slammed it down on the counter and “plunged” until the suction wore off. Everyone knew what we were buying [or returning].
The phrase, “I’ll be there with bells on.”, has taken on a whole new meaning. You’re welcome.
On a more serious note, sometimes I get really distracted. I’ll be sailing along then, shhhwoooooop – attention is now focused elsewhere. I realize this is life and it is constant and it is moving and distractions are everywhere. But when are distractions harmful? I’ve had a few days to think about this and what I have come to believe is that when life seems mundane and I don’t see its’ beauty, when I am thwarting my gifts and calling, when I am not living with intention, when I don’t give/receive/understand grace, when I don’t invest in others, when I get jealous of someone else’s life (whether a real person or fictional character) rather that grateful for my own, when I am never satisfied and go looking for something else – that is when distraction is harmful. This life I have been given is good. Actually, it is more than good. It is full and weird and lively and still and beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I warmly welcome certain distractions (like YouTube videos of adorable animals, donuts, or exotic or classic sports car that drive by), but life is too short to always be looking for a ghost cat.
Six months ago, I was getting so distracted by circumstances that I was challenged to find moments of gratitude and thankfulness in my day-to-day, not just when moments seemed rad. It has been an interesting and humbling journey. There are days I am tired, selfish, and unmotivated – but even in those days, there are so many moments to be grateful.
If you are struggling with distractions or thankfulness, you aren’t alone. Start with finding a moment each day and take a picture. Do it for a week. You may be surprised how much that brief discipline can improve your mind and soul. The coolest part of this experience for me has been reflecting back on the 183 days I took a picture, wrote a lil something, and chronicled these joys through Instagram.
Distractions will happen. For instance, this post seemingly took 90 hours to write because I was fixated on who knows what (a dog, the sun, the clouds, string cheese, my Amazon delivery error, some birds, why Ticketmaster is convinced I am a robot, so on and so forth). But when they do occur, I hope they are worthwhile and because I am so overwhelmed by God’s majesty, goodness, creativity, and love that my response is simply, “Thank You. I needed that ghost cat. “
“Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.”