“I am sufficiently instructed in the principal duty of a preface, if my genius were capable of arriving at it. Thrice have I forced my imagination to take the tour of my invention, and thrice it has returned empty, the latter having been wholly drained by the following treatise.”
Jonathan Swift, Tale of a Tub
Remember in high school when they were teaching different writing techniques and we had to read Johnathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal” about eating children to prevent starvation during the great potato famine? The classic example of satire. Still. The guy had a heck of an imagination, and he could write.
While I often resort to satire (my preferred method of laughing keep from crying) this season often finds me at a loss for inspirational humor. Instead, I find myself frequently engaging in the dubious practice of conversing with my feline, whose virtual absence of spoken response at such times in no way hinders the progress of our discussions. Instead, her silence bespeaks her solemn wisdom. Her participation in such talks is generally limited to a purr so low and deep inside her, that, due to my moderate deafness, I can hear only by holding the entire cat up to my ear like a telephone receiver.
Far from conveying a sinister undertone in response to my confessions, my cat’s conversational contribution – the low hum I interpret to mean her understanding and compassion – simply confirms my trust in her advice: mmmmmmm……
Rarely, in the course of such heart-to-ear discussions, I catch a spark of inspirational advice. More often, I find I cannot quite carry such thoughts through the doors of understanding, leaving them instead in the tub of sand outside the doors, where complicated realizations, cigarette butts, and wads of chewing gum are discarded by other seekers preparing to enter into self-realization.
In this season, forcing my imagination to take the tour of my invention, I too, am likely to return empty handed.
There was that one time though, when I thought I heard my cat actually speak. I think she might have actually said, “Of course you’re crazy, Weeping. Cats can’t speak.” Then again, I can’t hear. So, like the complementary diets of Mr. and Mrs. Sprat, the bad kitty and I make a perfect conversational pair.