No wonder he stayed under the bed: a life lesson from Max

I’ve been face down on the hardwood floor cranking my neck to the right for the past seven days, and it has nothing to do with yoga. The kink in my neck and dust on my tights are not evidence of any pursuit toward enlightenment via a wild variation on Locust pose. Not at all. Rather, I’ve been trying to coax my rescue cat out from under the bed. Arm stretched to its limits, treat between forefinger and thumb, “here, Max, here!”, for the past seven days hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Except for an occasional “leave me the fuck alone” moment of eye contact.

Welcome home Max

Until this morning. My boy Max inched his way out as I pulled up a seat at the desk facing the bedroom’s corner window. Feeling defeated, I considered leaving the room entirely. But then, after slithering in figure eight fashion between my ankles, he hopped up onto the window sill and met me face to face. Spoken matter-of-factly through penetrating, pearly-rimmed eyes, he put it to me straight:

Give me time. Give me space. Don’t force your love on me.”

Alright, buddy. But honestly, I replied through my own pleading eyes, don’t you know you hit the rescue cat lottery here? It took a few minutes to see his point. Yes, his new set up certainly outclassed former stints in shelter cages and dark alleys, but until I could prove otherwise, how was he to know I wasn’t just another jackass about to dump him on the highway when things didn’t go my way? Just because I know, doesn’t mean he does. At ten years old, he’s learned not to dole out trust fleetingly. It’s how he’s survived.

Don’t rush the process”

This morning’s message from Max recalled another message I hear and reiterate in the yoga classes I teach: don’t rush the process. Getting fixated on goals and outcomes, I’ve learned, generally sends me back to square one in a frustrated heap. Handstand in ten days? Fail. Teaching a class ‘perfectly’ and connecting with every single student in the room? Bigger fail. Making my rescue cat love me in seven days? EPIC fail. Eradicating the goals and replacing them with intentions becomes a different story. Practicing handstands ten days in a row without a goal of nailing even one keeps me from giving up. Trusting my training and accepting that my best effort teaching is good enough keeps me on the path of growth. Tossing an expectation of when Max will come around (literally, figuratively) allows me to love him on his terms, not mine.

Since this morning’s conversation with Max, I’ve left him alone, given him space, and watched him begin to explore his new home. And if he wants to crawl back under the bed, so be it. He’ll be fine, and I’ll try out that wild variation of Locust pose somewhere else. On my yoga mat, perhaps.