I recently stumbled on a world of story telling and read the amazing book Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks. (I HIGHLY recommend it!) This book was full of wisdom and the values of telling stories. Yesterday was National Cat Day and I thought I would tell you one story about Pong Pong - a cat I met in 2007.
I was practicing the piano in my apartment on a nice spring morning in Bloomington, Indiana. I was in my doctorate program at the University of Indiana and practicing for long hours in my apartment was part of my daily routine. My apartment was in a one story unit building and I could see out of the window from the piano bench which I always loved. That day I noticed a ginger cat walking on the grass in the corner of the building. I didn’t pay much attention at first, then I noticed that he was always visiting at a certain time, mostly while I was playing the piano. He was regular enough to make me feel like I was actually giving him a concert. He was sitting under the sun in the distance for a while as if he had come to listen to the music.
Growing up in Korea, cats were always culturally seen as wild, often dangerous, and never as pets. I had no general knowledge of cats. But I found myself intrigued by this yellow creature. I looked forward to the moment when he would show up. Sometimes I sat outside looking for him for hours. He would always sit far from me, although I could tell he was also intrigued by my existence. We often looked at each other for a while without much action.
One day he decided to come a little closer while keeping the suspicious look. I thought about every possible way to earn his trust. I threw a treat that I had bought for him into the distance. He seemed to like it. It took 3 solid months for him to come closer until he finally ate some food that I prepared for him at a foot’s distance. The first time I could actually pet him was a moment of breakthrough. He had beautiful green eyes. I named him Pong Pong, and I loved the feeling that giving him a name seemed to make our friendship official. He came almost every day except some rainy days, and sometimes even sat on my lap in the apartment or next to the piano bench while I was playing, but he always led his street life. He only stayed a certain amount of time and then left. As much as I wanted to ask him to stay, I didn’t feel I had the right to hold him back. He was a free sprit and I didn’t have any intention of changing that. I was always happy to see him, but let him go. That relationship lasted almost a year until he didn’t show up one day. Then the next day, then the next day. He stopped showing up. I started to have an uneasy feeling about it. Maybe he had an accident, maybe he fell sick. A million thoughts came through my head, worrying about him to death all day. After 2 weeks I decided to put a poster around the neighborhood and see if anyone had found him. The next day I got a call from a guy telling me that he seemed to know the cat. I was ecstatic to hear the news and felt relief in the chest. Then he said “The picture awfully looks like my cat.” I didn’t register what he meant at first, then I realized that I actually didn’t know anything about Pong Pong. That is true. He could have had an owner. That thought just never came across my mind. I asked him if I could visit his house to see ‘his’ cat. He said it would be no problem. His house was two blocks from mine and I couldn’t help noticing my heart pounding as I was approaching the house. Then there he was, the beautiful ginger cat, my Pong Pong, peacefully sleeping on someone else’s couch. I don’t know what I was feeling, but initially mostly relief that he was safe. I exchanged a few words with the guy and headed out in a hurry.
He looked different in that space, his name was not Pong Pong, and sadly he acted indifferently to my appearance. I think I felt every emotion in the world at that moment, maybe anger, maybe sadness, disappointment, yet relief, peace, and happiness. As I walked home, I was in tears. I think I learned a great lesson; being able to love something fully, let go, and laugh. Mr. double life Pong Pong! He never came back to my apartment since. But I was happy to know that he was safe and have our memories together forever to cherish.
One thing is for sure:
I became a cat person.
What about you?
I hope my little story gave you a chuckle. That is always good.😊 I hope you tell stories to others too. I find that it is one of the strongest forms of connection with others and most importantly with yourself.