Sunday, January 1, 2012

Process, Product, and Playthings

For the past two days I've been watching my cat attempt to retrieve about a dozen cat toys from underneath our TV cabinet. He’s been very successful in his pursuit…though he’s reclaimed not a single thing.

It all started when he accidentally pushed a new toy under the furniture while playing with it. He made several attempts to recover it, but when his little paw kept coming back empty, I decided to help him. I dragged a ruler under the cabinet to help push his toy out from beneath it. It did come out…along with a host of other dusty, little cat toys that had been hiding there for who knows how long.

I thought he'd be thrilled with this plethora of playthings, but he just looked at me like I had spoiled all his fun. He walked around to the other side of the cabinet, flopped onto the floor, and started pawing under it again. I took a peek below and saw him trying to grab onto a small, white water bottle cap.

With all these toys in plain sight, why was he still trying to grab onto something out of reach?

After ten minutes of activity, my cat was even more involved and determined though he seemed no closer to getting hold of his object than before. I finally realized that the "fun" for him was in trying, problem solving, playing the game. It wasn’t important to him to actually latch onto his prey. That wasn’t his goal.

So I shoved all the toys back under the cabinet.

Now he’s taking a nap in the sun. Every once in a while, his feet will twitch or his whiskers will quiver. I like to think he’s pursuing mice who are giving him a good chase and then running under the TV cabinet, elusive but at the same time ever possible.

It reminds me of the new year and all the goals I’ve set for myself. Most of them involve taking some kind of risk, attempting something I never have before without the assurance of success. I’m excited to get started, but I also need to make sure I find the joy in the moment.

What goals have you set for the new year? And how will you go about achieving them?


  1. Great post! There really is something joyful about setting a goal and working out a plan to accomplish it. My first goal of the year was to exercise for twenty minutes--something I haven't done in months (and months!) I enjoyed thinking about it and putting the DVD on to start. And I enjoyed the aftermath, lying on the floor exhausted, knowing I'd finally done what I'd been trying to do all last year. There's joy in knowing that if I keep this up my body will thank me for it in the end. But boy oh boy, right now I'm dreading doing it all over again tomorrow...

  2. Woo-hoo for you and your great goal! So, you enjoyed thinking about it beforehand, feeling the exhilaration afterward, and knowing what it will do for you in the long run...but what about the exercising itself? :-) JK I'm in the same situation myself, so I know exactly where you're coming from. Keep up the good work!