Sunday mornings ceased to be about church when I became a pet sitter almost 11 years ago. Sunday mornings (like most mornings) are spent pet sitting. As I drive around however, Krista Tippett’s program, On Being, is usually playing. Her program (or whatever part I manage to catch between visits) has become, in essence, church – or spiritual nourishment – for me.
Her guest this week, Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) really grabbed my attention. She was promoting her newest book, Big Magic. The line (and I’m paraphrasing) that really got my attention was: “90% of everything interesting is boring, but stick with the boring and sometimes magic happens.” That, right there, is the definition of pet sitting, and the work we do with the trap/neuter/release program, and especially with the rescue part of our work.
My posts about kittens get so much more attention than others (and probably than this one!) because it is all about excitement and newness. For three week old kittens just about everything is new, and watching them discover that they have feet and tails, and that they can poop and climb – it’s so much fun because we all remember how exciting the “firsts” in our own lives have been.
But the majority of what I do, day to day, is not all that exciting. That’s not an indictment of the activities, but scooping the 2000th litter box just doesn’t get my adrenaline going at top speed. I do a lot of the same things every day. Feed, water, scoop, walk (the dogs), pick up poop, give medications, clean out traps. Newness comes in the form of a new client, or trapping a cat or kittens, but that fades to routine quickly enough. Which is good.
Often the non-routine is stressful. The momma cat of the kittens wasn’t eating this last weekend, and we’ve finally got her eating again…she has four tiny little mouths to feed and she has to eat for herself and them. She gave us a couple pretty stressful days. I’m glad that everything else on the weekend list was pretty routine.
Other times the boredom is relieved by things only those of us in rescue and other work can love. One of the kittens pooped in the litter box for the first time today. The picture of the poop in the litter box was sent by the person caring for the kittens this afternoon and was forwarded many times and greeted with great pleasure. The 90% boring finally resulting in a bit of magic. You probably think we should all get a life, and you would probably be correct, but this counts as magic when you’re raising little kittens.
Another client of mine has a cat who climbs in my lap, wraps his arms around both sides of my neck and gives me bear hugs (his name happens to be Bear) and that’s magic too. My reward for doing the boring stuff – getting food ready, washing the dishes, cleaning the litter box, filling the water, cleaning vomit from the floor when needed, and a few other house chores. At the end of all of it, a little play with the cats, and finally, my Bear hug. 90% boring, and then a little bit of magic.
My photography is like that as well. 90% junk, and every once in a while, something really fun and magic. These were two guys I cared for over the last week. Lots of awful shots, and then these two that I really like,
I’m okay with the boring. Boring is restful most of the time. (Well, maybe not when I’m taking pictures, but the rest of the time.) Gilbert’s words spoke to me yesterday while I was driving around. Boring is really fine a lot of the time, as long as every once in a while it is punctuated by magic. And when you work with animals all the time, magic is never all that far away. You just have to be paying attention.