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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



{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Timaree January 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I sure hope so. I just moved into a senior neighborhood, fulfilling my lifelong goal of getting back to California to stay. Am really happy about that but to get here I had to move to a lower cost area meaning I am 1.5 to 2.5 hours away from any of my family. I knew this coming in and it will work out fine.

My trouble is – – it hit me hard when I looked around to find I qualify to live with all the “old people” meaning I MUST BE ONE TOO! How did this happen? I am not “old”-or am I? Your post is quite timely given how I am feeling with this sudden awareness I am not comfortable with yet. Thank you as always.


Christopher Foster January 21, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Oh Timaree, I understand. (My wife understands too). The calendar tells me that in three or four months I will be 81. Now — as you say — how did this happen? I wonder if there’s been some sort of mistake? I think I should check my birth certificate to make sure, that is if I can find it. Maybe you should too:-).

I’m sorry. A feeble attempt at humor. More seriously, I’m happy to hear you have fulfilled your goal of returning to California. I think this move will work out very well for you. As you say, some of the details may not be entirely perfect but — the important elements are in place. I wish you very well with your move and lots of happiness with your family in days to come. Well done Timaree and God bless.


Priska January 20, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I loved the analogy of the cat.
The cat had no map, simply following instinct, one paw in front of another.
We would like a map so that we can be assured that we are going in the right direction and not get battered and bruised along the way. But like the cat we can only follow out instinct, put one paw in front of the other, get a little battered and bruised along the way, but we’ll eventually find our way home.
Priska recently posted..Can Positive Thinking distort your view of reality and make life appear worse?


Christopher Foster January 21, 2013 at 1:22 pm

You write so well Priska. And you think so well. I absolutely love the way you have amplified and given increased meaning to the story of Holly the cat. Thank you so much for your great comment and I agree. We may be a little battered and bruised but we will find our way home.


Llynde January 22, 2013 at 5:26 pm

You are so very special!


Christopher Foster January 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Thank you Llynde. Back at you, as they say. I don’t know of any more beautiful truth than the simple recognition that each of us comes into the world with a unique gift to give. So while I have the chance — thank you for the gift you bring into this world.


Baolin Liu February 6, 2013 at 2:17 am

Amazing story. Goes to show that there is always a way.


Christopher Foster February 11, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Baolin, thank you for your comment. So sorry for the delay in replying. I wish you all the very best. Yes, there is always a way.


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