Cat’s Eye View

He flopped out of the basket and righted himself. Taking in his surroundings, he wandered on unsteady feet out of the kitchen and in an uncertain direction to explore the world.

Grandma scooped him up and placed him back in the basket with a tch of her tongue. “That kitten is hungry. What a shame! Look at him! He keeps leaving the basket to look for food.”

I paused and gently put my coffee cup down on the table, selecting my words carefully. “Uhm… Y’know…that looks like normal, curious kitten behavior to me… He’s just ahead of the rest. Momma-Cat is going to go nuts in a few weeks when all of them start doing that.”

“No, no. He’s hungry. Sua leite não está sostentando. Her milk must not be enough for him. What a pity.” She eyed the new family and shook her head.

I came back a week later and a grandkid was gently feeding one of the kittens milk from a tiny bottle. The little grey and white kitten, the adventurer, was nowhere to be seen. Grandkiddo explained to me: “Two of the kittens died of starvation. Sua leite não estaba sostentando. Her milk wasn’t enough for them.”

A minor tragedy, to be sure. I was looking forward to watching that little pirate grow up.

As I sipped my coffee and nibbled my biscoito and watched the two surviving kittens tumble around the kitchen, I contemplated the echoed language because consider this fact: in general mothers’ milk is a supply-and-demand sort of deal. If the babies need a lot, mother’s milk production usually ramps up to match. If there is no longer a demand–say because you fill their bellies with bottle-fed milk–then mom’s naturally going to make less milk. And it’s going to reinforce your perception that her milk wasn’t enough for them. Nasty little cycle, huh?

Now, kitten-killer is a strong accusation. I won’t go there. Only God and Momma-Cat will ever know what truly happened. But the whole thing got me thinking: our analysis of a problem really colors the outcome, doesn’t it?

How often do we do this in life? We define a problem a certain way, this leads to a particular, seemingly logical solution. I’m just as guilty of this as the next person. Mountain-from-Molehills Builder, Expert Level, that’s me.

But what if that wasn’t the problem at all?

Maybe there wasn’t even a problem?

What if it’s just us defining a completely natural pattern as problematic? Drama is as drama does, sure enough. Go looking for it, and you’ll find it.

The next time you are faced with truly tough kerfuffle, stop and step back. How many different explanations for this same problem can you brainstorm? In some of those alternate realities, is this problem Ok? Maybe you can let it go? Or what doors does your new perspective open? Do your strategies change? Or maybe just sit and save some of that dramatic energy until you watch the situation a while and decide if it really needs your intervention?

As the saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And the older I get the more that I realize that fewer things are broken than we (I) think.

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  1. An amazing photo!

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