Facefull of cat

“I love them dearly, but catlessness is an attractive prospect sometimes. She’s started sleeping on my head, quite literally. If I move, she takes more pillow; when I turn over, I get a facefull of cat.”

My Ravelry community was discussing cats, as happens fairly often (there’s a high percentage of cat owners among them).  My friend Sarah said the above, in the middle of a post about how her cats are getting more vocal and demanding in their elder years.

It made me stop and think hard.  I know how much Sarah loves her family, which includes her cats, and likewise for all the other people who also chatted about their pet annoyances (not only cats, other animals have their own foibles and difficulties).  It seems to me there’s a strong, practical metaphor for love here, the limits of one’s love.  Because in order to engage in any kind of relationship involving love, eventually you’re going to have a “facefull of” something.

Want pets?  They’re not at all shy about their demands, mostly.  At some point you’re going to end up with a facefull of fur, or mess, or inconvenience, or expense.  At different points, you’ll have facefulls of all of them.

Want kids?  I’ve watched my brothers both start to raise kids, from the sideline as a goofy aunt.  Kids and their needs are always in your face, if you’re a good parent.  They’re not shy either about demanding stuff.

Want a spouse?  Want a facefull of someone else really deeply inside your business?  Want a facefull of someone when you just don’t want to deal with anyone?  That goes the same for any kind of really close relationship.  If you want a really dear friendship or partnership of any kind, at some point you’re going to have a facefull of something unpleasant, something you really don’t want to deal with in the moment it comes.

Even doing some kinds of work — hard work, good work, work intended to create or redeem.  Great work is always up in your face, if it’s really great work.  You’re not the one in charge, especially not of creative work.  You’re there to serve, sunshine.  You’re there to do the hard parts, so a new thing can come into being.  That only happens out of love.

There are redeeming parts to all of these situations, or else they would never happen.  Love is (apparently) worth it, for those people willing to put up with having facefulls of stuff.  But the compensations don’t negate the unpleasant parts.  Maybe they make up for them; maybe, sometimes, a real love can even transform the unpleasant things, turn them into something one can find joy in, if not happiness.  But you can’t have that on the way in.  At the beginning, you’re just going to be confronted with facefulls of stuff you don’t want.  So it becomes a real limiter on love, a hard and practical one.  Whatever you’re willing to deal with having a facefull of, that’s what you can come to love.

I haven’t finished thinking about this yet, neither the general principle or the personal implications.  Because, of course, it’s personal.  Do I want to love and be loved?  Then what am I willing to have a facefull of?

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5 comments so far

  1. Michelle A. on

    I love this post, and I’d love to hear more when you get there.

  2. Jennifer/Thneed on

    > sometimes, a real love can even transform the unpleasant things, turn them into something one can find joy in, if not happiness.

    And sometimes, it’s not even that. It just that you do what needs to be done, as a part of this world. You take responsibility for things, just ‘coz that needs to happen. Which is why I pick up trash on the street (if I can find a close-enough trash-can). And why, around my house, the person who finds the cat-yak is the one who cleans it up. *And* nobody lies about finding the cat-yak. Because it needs to be cleaned up for everyone’s sake. Well, maybe the cats don’t care, but they haven’t said.

  3. sarah on

    That last is a really important question and most people never ask it until they’re confronted by a facefull of something. And then it may be too late for a graceful, painless withdrawal from the situation.

  4. Barbara on

    I don’t think that a human can live life totally alone or unencumbered by relationships with others whether 2 legged or 4 legged. How can joy, happiness, sorrow or any strong emotion be totally felt without someone to share it with.

  5. georg on

    I think you need to roll over and get a facefull of God. /tease/ Some people don’t look. Sometimes you need the face full to see anything. :)


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