Five Things I Wouldn’t Want to Do Without

Topic credit: @rusty2rusty at .

In order to make this challenge interesting we have to leave out the basic survival needs of food, water, air, shelter, and companionship, and write about five other things we, individually, wouldn’t want to try living without. (“Hot water” is not the same as “water.”) That way everyone who takes this challenge has a different list. Here’s mine, for today–another day I might think of different things.

1. The resident cats at the Cat Sanctuary. They’re my friends, not on the same level that human friends are, but on a level that’s more necessary to my day-to-day life. Writers don’t really need people to talk to–what we instinctively want to do is write, not talk–and, although the cats and I can and do “converse” about some things, we belong to different species and don’t really have much in common. In human-to-cat communication you’ve had a tremendous success, which some (of both species) don’t even want to believe is possible, if you can reliably “say” and “hear” messages like “I think what you’re doing is dangerous.” But the resident cats are more valuable friends than other humans who merely talk about what they and I think and feel with our convoluted human brains. The cats don’t talk or think or feel that way at all, but they do keep mice from nibbling our home down to the ground.

2. The mountains around the Cat Sanctuary. I did too much travelling at too early an age. The effect of being told that too many different places “would be my new home” was not to teach me that all places are beautiful. It was to teach me that all other places are Not-Home, and although Not-Home can be interesting it’s never quite as nice as Home.

(Home is a place, not a person. Thank God. People don’t live as long as the earth and the mountains. My home is a place that recalls memories of people I’ve loved, but it’s fortunate for me that my home is primarily a place where I do things I love doing, because so many of those people I’ve loved are no longer alive.)

3. Writing. Writers don’t really stop putting words together, at least not when we’re awake. We think in words. We dream in words. We’re likely to feel that pictures, gestures, touches and other physical demonstrations are clumsy efforts to say things that Real Human Beings Like Us would say in words. We have to push ourselves to remember that our words need to mean things.

4. Cash. Writers are squeamish about mentioning this one. We like to imagine that, because the things we most enjoy aren’t usually products with specific price tags, we don’t need money to enjoy Finer Things like music, flowers, and good conversation. That’s all very well, and certainly people who dedicate their whole lives to piling up vast hoards of money, and neglect the Finer Things, are boring or insane or both. Nevertheless, if we don’t have any money, there won’t be much music, many flowers, or much good conversation in our lives either. If you want to debate about this, that suits me just fine. Send me all your money, live on roots and berries for six months, and then tell me what you think.

5. Freedom. Self-determination. Whenever I’ve said this, other U.S. baby-boomers who know me personally have thought it was an odd thing to say, because what I personally do with my freedom is not usually what was marketed to our generation as “liberation.” I harbor no grandiose dreams about doing anything for Humanity, although I enjoy helping my neighbor (the “near-be-er,” the person nearest to me at a given time) as much as anybody else does. I’m definitely not interested in drugs, polygamy, promiscuity, heavy metal music, or even flared-leg jeans. And I can take road trips or leave them alone, but preferably the latter. What I want the freedom to do is, in fact, to live a quiet, “conservative,” auntly life with a minimum of drama and upheavals. I find people who seek out “excitement” for its own sake deadly boring. But if other people crave more “excitement” than I want, good luck to them and let them have it–somewhere well out of my sight and hearing. The important thing is that people respect each other enough to leave each other alone.

Morguefile cat…Here, kitty, kitty…