Ever decreasing circles

So, the other night I’m sitting there looking at the cat. He’s curled up snoozing on “his” cushion on the sofa. I’m casually pondering mortality and Life (man) whilst watching crap TV.

I then had one of those thought processes that is both strangely satisfying yet leaves you even more bemused than normal. It ran something like this …

“Hey cat, it must be great to be you. You just sleep your life away. All you do is sleep, look smug, wake up, eat, go to the toilet, and go back to sleep. No stress, no competing demands, no worries. Just sleeping your life away”.

That’s a fairly standard thought when observing a pet. Envying the little furry swine. Then it derailed alarmingly. It was the “sleeping your life away” bit that did it. That seemed like a really attractive thought; right now I am absolutely knackered, and facing no immediate prospect of a decent night’s sleep. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better as they say. So visceral jealousy of a pampered creature that’s dozing in pure contentment just a few centimetres away seemed pretty natural.

Only “sleeping my life away” has become a bit of a fear. Probably tied up with mid-life crisis or something, but whilst on the one hand I crave sleep, and am permanently half-doped and struggling to focus, on the other … life is so short! I don’t want to miss anything! What will I lose if I sleep? What will I miss? All those times I stay in are times I’m not going out. All those evenings zoning out in front of the idiot box are evenings I’m not spending with friends, or doing something creative, or saving the world. All those hours I’m asleep are hours I’ll never get back! Hours I could have been talking, writing, playing, learning, making a difference, experiencing, doing something! Not that I’m naturally dynamic or ever do do anything, but that just makes it worse! Not only do I sleep, I then fritter valuable time away on trash!

“Cat! What are you doing? Sleep is the enemy! Do you not realise you’re wasting your entire life?”

So then I spiraled off into a little flurry of existential angst. First for the cat, who lacking sufficient self-awareness is just wasting so many opportunities and doesn’t even realise it, the little idiot. I mean, what is the point to his existence if all he does is sleep, eat and defecate? Is it not profoundly depressing that his whole world is so circumscribed, that he will never amount to more than a little fur-coated poo factory?

Fairly quickly I decided I had bigger problems than the cat, so started angsting for me as well. After all, I’m not that much better than the cat. I’m <mumble> years old, have made virtually no positive impact on the world, and show no signs of doing so. I meander through life with minimal goals, assuming it will go on forever whilst being painfully aware that it won’t, but can’t summon the energy to actually do anything that might convey meaning or purpose to it all. What, as they say, is the point of me? Paralysed by … I don’t know what. Choice? Lack of direction, conviction, commitment? Pure laziness and self-interest? But is it self-interest if it’s actually not in the best interest of yourself even though you think it is?

After mulling this for a few moments the brain flipped again: maybe the cat had it right after all.

“Ah, cat, you have wisdom beyond your ken. Despite being too stupid to know you are wasting your short, pathetic life, you are happy as a pig in the proverbial. The truth is written across your smug furry face: ignorance is indeed bliss. Even if it’s slightly wheezy bliss. You will go on, mostly content and oblivious until you die. Your lack of self-awareness leading to a profund case of Not Giving A Shit keeps you in a warm happy place. You little furry bastard, you actually do have it sussed.”

Perhaps I should seek to emulate the cat a bit more. Pursue a path of largely disinterested sub-hedonism. Actual hedonism taking too much effort for either me or the cat, you understand. But a milder form of disinterested contentment, that could work.

And yet, just when you think the cat’s helped you crack some zen serenity code … it all comes rushing back in. Life. Work, money, friendship, housing, love, injustice, oppression, prejudice, joy, suffering, spectacular sights, miserable poverty, first world problems and third world problems. So much good stuff to experience; so much bad stuff that ought to be put right, dammit. Even if it’s a futile gesture, surely there’s merit in making it? You can’t change the world, but you can change the world for one person, all that jazz. So what am I doing with my life, my work, my time? And whoooooooosh, overwhelmed with crashing uselessness and a fine sense of mortality and futility once more. But in a good way. Maybe.

It feels like there should be some kind of moral in that lot somewhere. Goodness knows where though.

Stupid cat.

Stop snoring.