In the morning when I come downstairs I let our cats, Wednesday and Berty, out of their room as I get ready to feed them. Rather than risk chronic back and shoulder problems (something I struggled with after letting Poupon sleep in our bed), we’re doing things differently this time. Knowing good sleep is far too important to our health, we took the advice of Dr. Jeff Nichol, a veterinarian and animal behavior specialist, and set the cats up in a room of their own. They spend the night together, we get good sleep, and during the day they have the run of the house.
When I opened the door to their room one morning this week, I discovered that sometime during the night Berty and Wednesday had a catnip party. After ripping apart two large toys filled with the stash, I found dried mint everywhere – in their food and water bowls, spread throughout their litter boxes, covering their beds and all over their cat tree.
What a disaster, I thought to myself. This is the last thing I want to deal with first thing in the morning. It’s going to take forever to clean this up!
As I continued moaning on my way to get the vacuum and a mop, I reminded myself of something I’ve heard Michael Singer say over and over again during his online talks: If you can’t handle the low-hanging fruit – the small problems in life – how will you ever handle the big ones?
Catnip catastrophe is a small problem. So is rainy weather, heavy traffic, or a long wait at the post office. Big problems are loved ones who get sick, losing a job, shuttering a business during the pandemic, political vigilantism, and the climate crisis. Tackling these types of problems requires patience, a clear head, a passion for understanding, and the emotional maturity to reel ourselves back in when we get triggered so we don’t make more of a mess.
It’s easy to feel anxious, weary, and helpless these days. After all, there’s so much at stake. So I’m using the small disturbances of life to train myself to be a better more helpful human being. I’d like to be someone who contributes to finding solutions to the bigger problems of living on a planet with billions of souls operating at different levels of consciousness.
So, rainy day when I planned on going to the beach? Bring it on – I got this. Last-minute meeting changes that screw up my whole day? Easy-peasy. More time to breathe. Catnip disaster? Come on! It’s better than a sitcom. I can only imagine the fun these two rascals had while I was sound asleep!
The next time you’re about to lose it over something small, please save yourself for the big stuff. Don’t deny your feelings, of course, just don’t be hijacked by them. Get in the habit of reminding yourself: If you can’t handle this, sweetheart, how will you ever handle the big stuff?