On the bike trail in Fremont: It was dark and rainy out, and I was
walking out behind this company yard which had a double chain link fence
with barbed wire on the top of it, and there are all these blackberry
bushes pushing up against the fence.
I’m walking by and I hear this pathetic little “Mew.”
So I call out “Hey baby! Hey kitty kitty! Where are you?” and I’m
looking in under the bushes. If there is a cat in there its fucked,
because the bushes are really dense it’s like knotted barbed wire —
“Mew!” I’m walking around back and forth trying to see if the kitty is
just saying hi, or if its in trouble. Cant see a thing. So I sit with my
eyes closed for a few minutes and then try to look out of the corner of
my eye — your peripheral vision is better in the dark, especially for
“Mew!” I think I see something a couple of times, but no luck. I can’t
even tell if it is behind the first chain link fence or behind both of
them. The fence is 10 feet high, and has 20 inch barbed wire angled out
at the top — so I’m not going over.
I take my umbrella and start poking around — I figure if I can see it,
and it’s stuck, maybe I can free it. But nothing comes of it. I’m
talking to it the whole time, and it’s calling back every once in a while.
I get up and say “I’m sorry, honey, I don’t think there is anything I
can do for you.”
So I get back down and go through the whole thing over again. I try to
walk away again, and it calls out again.
So I squat down and say “Look, man, your ancestors had to come up
through a million years of Blackberry bushes, and you are their
offspring. You are resourceful, and even though your little and lost and
cold, you have the basic skills to handle this or you would have never
“I can’t see you and I can’t get through the fence — so you’re on your
own. I wish you the best — I really hope you make it, but it’s all on
you now, got it? Live or die, baby — and I want you to live. I am
rooting for you, but you have to do it yourself.”
“Good luck, honey. I’m sorry.”
I felt so terrible walking away. I actually dreamed about it last night.
I felt afterwards that it was kind of a “feather chaos” moment.
Everything was set up — the cold and dark, the impassibility of the
barrier, the fact that it was a tiny kitten. All of the elements were
floating there in time like a single unit — like the event had meaning.
I felt that, in reality, I’m the kitten — or we are all the kitten —
and life is the blackberries — and it’s just on us to figure out how to
pick through them — how to escape and make it all work.
Nature has made us lithe and flexible, and given us good eyesight and
instincts — and it is maybe hanging back watching us and hoping that we
make it, but its our blackberry bush, and if we can’t figure it out,
then we’re just another kitten dying in the bushes and it’s not a big
deal, no one will really notice.
It’s on us.
I don’t know how to express the way in which I find that empowering — I
want to give it a happy ending, but the ending isn’t given. Maybe you’ll
escape and maybe you won’t. Or, more accurately, you will escape over
and over again, until one day you don’t.
But however it turns out, you have to figure out what you have to offer
the situation, because the situation itself is not going to save you,
you have to save you.
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