“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela
I stood in front of the door to the music room, my hand held in midair over the doorknob ready to push the door open. With a weary sigh, I let my hand drop to my side and walk over to the stairs and sit down, sorely disappointed with myself.
Shut in the room sat my latest rescue cat. Never in all the years, of saving these abandoned animals had I feared one. Nutmeg – so named for her coloring, had found me not long after she had gotten pregnant. Nothing but skin and bones, Paul and I had made the decision to have her pregnancy terminated in order to save this tiny cat - who wove around our legs while we decided her fate. Gentle, loving, wanting to please, and be held Nutmeg, came back a very different animal.
Paul gave up his music room and his lessons for two weeks in order to give her time to heal and recover - twelve long days to be exact. Two days later she bit deep into the meat of my hand. She’s nervous and afraid I reasoned and didn’t think much of it. The next day she lashed into my leg so violently, I bled and would sport bruises for over a week. Paul joked, "Must be you." She appeared fine for him. That same day she left three scratches across his face.
So, I sat on the steps, embarrassed this tiny tyrant had gotten the best of me. In an act of bravado, I strode to the door and went in and dared to approach my nemesis. She purred and curled up in my lap. I cried, I didn’t trust her and wanted so much to make her right again. Slowly but surely Meg as she came to be known in her gentler times, healed. The day we had to cut her stitches and remove them (due to the nature of her health the vet chose not to put in dissolvable stitches) both Paul and I, anticipated a few scars. Much to our chagrin and surprise, she gave us little resistance.
We now have one last hurdle - find her a home, where she’s the only pet. Our (not so) gentle Meg, isn’t so kind to other animals. She fights for everything and anything. Alone she’s the gentlest creature around. If she appears to be a kitten in the above photo, she is. I still believe there is a home, a place where she belongs, and I’ll find it. I haven’t given up on her.
I came to realize over the past three weeks, dealing with her is not much different than writing. The courage it takes to open a door and risk what lies on the other side; is the same courage that continued to spur me on as I wrote the final pages of my current book. I’m in awe of what I accomplished (animal and book). I left the last thousand or so words until yesterday…I wanted to keep them close and refused to let them go, languishing in the ending.
In a year and some odd months, I’ve written three books – Close to 232,000 words. If that isn’t practice and determination, I don’t know what is. There are still revisions to be made on my latest work in progress. But not unlike working with Nutmeg, I’m resolved and passionate enough about what I do – someday a book of mine, will find its way into a publishing house. Courage is the single step you take, one in front of the other, into your dreams. I can’t/won’t be one of those people who sit back and wonder about the ‘what if’s’. I plan to finish what I started, and go on to start another and another…Because dreams were never one dimensional.
*In a side note: We have rescued pregnant cats before and watched over them full term, finding homes for the kittens after they were old enough to be weaned. This decision wasn't made lightly. The health of the mother, overrode all else. Everything we do with these rescues is out of pocket. We’re making a difference one animal at a time and I’ll continue writing one page at a time. Life, it's about those things we are most passionate about.