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Finding our way when we lose our way


Life pulled the rug out from beneath Holly, a 4-year-old tortoiseshell cat, when she managed to get separated from her owners in early November at an RV rally in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Holly was lost, alone and 200 miles from her home in West Palm Beach. But as the New York Times reported, she found her way back to her owners somehow – staggering, weak and emaciated, into a neighbor’s back yard on New Year’s Eve.

Sometimes, in such cases, one expert theorized, the cats are just strays, and people fool themselves into thinking it is their cat when it isn’t. But in Holly’s case, there was no question about her identity because apart from distinctive patterns on her fur, she carries an implanted microchip to identify her.

So how did Holly do it? No one really knows. “I have no data for this,” said Marc Bekoff, a behavioral ecologist.

Life throws hard challenges at us too sometimes that rip us from our familiar lives and leave us bereft in the face of the unknown.

I know of no more encouraging truth than this. Just as Holly somehow found her way back home in the face of calamity — so can we.

I had no notion at all how I would survive when the spiritual community I had been part of for 36 years in British Columbia disintegrated after the death of its leader. But I did survive. What seemed like pure catastrophe at the time turned out to be a door to greater freedom and joy.

I’d say the same principle applies to natural phenomena like aging. Aging can bring up feelings of loss and dismay, without a doubt — perhaps even panic — when it begins to assert itself in our lives.

But as I move into my 80’s, I’m here to say that we can find our way “home” even in the face of aging. We can learn to live in such a way that aging, too, becomes a door to a brilliant new life of increased meaning and joy. A door to a new experience of the unconquerable love at the core of life – our own life or that of Holly, the cat, who surely has some great stories to tell one of these days.

Picture credit: gney


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