Friday, August 29, 2008


Runty is the smallest of my tabby clan of farm cats. He started out the same size as the others and had the same food and medical treatments, but Runty has always been the most hyper of the cats. He has the same sort of Uriah Heep obsequiousness that his mother did--and the same quick right paw. Runty will come rushing into the house and then as quickly rush out again for no apparent reason.

Tonight he jumped onto the window sill of the office where I was working. Just a soft thunk on the window alerted me to his presence in the blackness just beyond the sill. His mother did the same thing when she needed me. There might be days at a time I would not see her, but she found me when she needed me. As soon as my usefulness to her was ended, she was off again. If you like cats, then you know better than to expect gratitude or doglike affection. I didn't. Gnomie sometimes smiled at me, but Runty never seems to smile.

Runty is never happy. After many years of watching them, I still understand very little about the inner workings of cats or people, but I recognize dithering. There's a little dither in all of us from time to time--going around in a circle til you discover your glasses already on your head or the car keys in your hand is a mild form. Formatting a page while you wait for the inspiration to put something in. Running away from your vocation.

A friend recently told me about a traveling salesman with whom he has become friends in the course of traveling the same path. This man, although a qualified chef, sells those little packets of food you see sitting on restaurant tables--ketchup or mustard or such. My friend said that the man is disappointed. Being good at something that you do not value--or think others value--would certainly be disappointing, but that retreat and that disappointment would be safe.

That kind of dithering is the most destructive. If I wrote the Unilever salesman into a story, I would have him thrown unexpectedly into a situation where he proved himself as a chef. And then --and now I am dithering--would he be transformed in an apotheosis and throw all his samples overboard and embrace his true vocation or would he pick up his sample case and follow his salesman path with even more bitterness than before? Perhaps having once been a chef, he might decide that his salesman life was a good one after all.

It may take courage to follow your vocation but my best decisions have come about not so much from courage as from fear of living in disappointment.


At 6:35 AM, Blogger goooooood girl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:24 PM, Blogger humblebumble said...

hi sharon

good to hear from you, how's the tablet weaving going then? you must post some photos of what you've done. i'm working on an idea for a little board loom to hold the warp in tension while you're working to make the work a bit more comfortable, and i'll tell you how i get on with that.


At 8:35 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

I am bumbling with the tablet weaving. I need new straps for my back pack and I was thinking of weaving something for them but I may take an easier way out.

At 8:46 PM, Blogger humblebumble said...

i wouldn't suggest TW for bag straps, especially not for a back pack. they tend to be too thin and bendy. just get some of the webbing stuff, that's what i'd do. or a couple of old leather belts would do the job as well

At 3:49 PM, Blogger Hayden said...

"It may take courage to follow your vocation but my best decisions have come about not so much from courage as from fear of living in disappointment."

ah yes, fear of regrets. I talk a good game on that one, but I manage to apply it selectively, and sometimes pass over it as if unawares at moments when I really should call it up instantly.

At 7:21 PM, Blogger goatman said...

Dithering may be a computer-graphics method of determining which pixel to light in what order. Kinda random filling. But I'm not sure. But I like the application to cats since a lot of their activity seems to be randomly in-the-moment based.
I'm not sure how I got here to your blog; but I enjoyed reading it.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Hello, Goatman, welcome to my little piece of the virtual world.

Yes, dithering does refer to IT and printing. When I first heard the term I found it made computers a bit more endearing to me.


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