The Teachings of Juasco the Mexican Housecat

As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. -Alexander Pope 1734


Following his ambush of the Search Bloc, Escobar emerged from the fiery wreckage in the streets of Medellin, gun drawn, cronies at his sides, and Carrillo wounded and helpless on the ground before him.  “Come mierda”, he says before executing him, leaving viewers like me with that sense that there is no particular reason that good should ultimately prevail in the world after all. 


Or something dramatically meaningful like that.

The desert breeze – normally dry – is very humid in the autumn months.  It sweeps across me as I lay there stunned at the semi-fictional events that have just unfolded before me on my small laptop screen.  It was September 2016 at my friends home in Mexico and I was smack dab in the middle of Narcos Season 1.  The same day, ground had broken on what would soon be my new home and ‘retirement plan’ just down the road towards the beach.  I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I know that life was going to be a little different here in the desert.

I got up from the couch in a bit of a stupor.  It was mostly dark, and I was looking straight ahead when I saw something in my peripheral in front of me.  The cat – Juasco – is there, just a few feet ahead, and I was already in motion with my next step.  What happened next unfolds within just a few seconds.

First, I think “oh shit the cat”, and my brain sends a signal along my nervous system to my muscle fibers to tell them to not step on the damn thing on my way to the fridge for more cheese or something. The cat was staring straight ahead, to my right, at something high on the wall above the counter, maybe 12 feet away.  And before my foot hit the ground the cat was gone, in motion.  However, he was not in motion in an attempt to evade me, the clumsy human in search of something more to full his gut with, that is all just a matter of coincidence.  Rather, he was in attack mode and he was making his way across the open-air room fast!  My eyes follow him, and in that instant I noticed his target, a medium-sized gecko up high on the wall gorging himself on the rainy-season swarms of bugs that surround the light.  In that instant, Juasco leaps.

Although he moves fast as a rabbit, time slows even further as he seems to float through the air.  His front paws lightly touch the corner edge of the counter on his way up.  This gives his back paws a mark.  In an instant, they’re set and he leaps from the counter, accelerating through the air like a video-game character that’s just gone past some sort of super-fun speed boost feature (think Mario Kart or F-Zero for all you ‘Generation Super-Nintendo’s out there).

It’s a solely airborne mission from here on out.

It must be about this time that the Gecko sensed some danger.  A shadow?  A flying cat-shaped object in its periphery perhaps? Juasco was in the air indeed, a feline missile headed straight at the lizard only a couple of feet away now.  His sights are set.  And perhaps first from a change in the lighting as the death-kitty blots some of it out, the gecko catches on.  It must have been just parts of a moment before Juasco hit the wall that the lizard matched speed with speed and quickly scurried out of harm’s way, up the wall and into the woodwork of the overhead palapa roof.  But Juasco was still in the air.  He was going to make his mark, prey or no prey.

Of course, he missed the gecko.  His paws and face must have contacted the concrete wall at about the same time, and he then fell about 3 ft onto the kitchen counter.  There were pots, pans, plates, utensils and such everywhere.  Juasco didn’t allow these hazards to impact his decision to hunt.  And now he fell onto them, crashing and banging his way to the stable countertop as he knocked and kicked items away to gain his footing, some onto the ground below.  Once he gathered himself, and managed to get to his feet (that’s right,this cat didn’t land on his feet), he took a casual stance.  He looked at me, effectively rolling his eyes as if to say ‘que, Gringo?’, and shook to clean and fluff his fur before casually sauntering across the counter, onto the floor and back to a nice place on the couch to rest.  I was still standing there, probably with most of my weight on my back foot still, having still not completed that original step away from the couch.

In my anthropomorphization of this even I realized that he wasn’t doing this for anyone.  There he was in the low light, noone or no thing watching him at all, plotting his next move.  He must really enjoy it.

How many things do we have in our lives that we do just for us?  How many things do we do exactly the same way when noone is looking as we would otherwise? Even when noone is looking, do we text someone right away to tell them how awesome our most recent experience was?  Maybe we put it straight into our social media stories for even strangers to see?

I had previously noticed how Juasco loved to chase or even just watch bugs and whatever else was attracted to the lights over the counter when they were on.  He must have been so disappointed when I would turn the lights out and go to bed each night.  He must do this whenever there is an opportunity.   I only happened to notice this particular no-holds-barred kamikaze aerial assault by chance.

Juasco was committed.  So much so that he didn’t even land on his feet, something cats are said to always do.  That is, he had to risk being an outlier and a failure, of which he was both in this case, in order to have any chance at his target.  I mean, this is a housecat.  He is fed daily.  He could just keep safe and  lie in the shade and not take such risks.  But for Juasco, the crossroads of should and must are clear, and he is unwilling to leave behind his must in spite of what others expect of him as a cat.  Action is the greatest teacher, and maybe it’s not so crazy to think that we could learn a lesson or two from a little desert cat like Juasco, if only we pay close enough attention to the omens.

From this story, you can take what you will.  For me, it’s a fun little reminder to focus on what and who you love and relentlessly cut out the rest.  The bull shit, as they say.

Add some Freedom.

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