It started with a pitiful meow. As I listened intently, the high-pitched cry persisted, growing stronger and more insistent. We found him perched on the side of a busy road, on a bank that should have been impossible to reach – the day before Halloween. Our best guess was that the entirely black kitten had been deliberately abandoned and left to fend for himself. We coaxed him down and he immediately perched himself on the nearest shoulder, purring and rubbing his face contentedly on his rescuer. Over the next few days, we debated what to do with him. Give him to a shelter? What would become of him? We nourished and rehydrated him and calmed his upset cries throughout the night. Despite his high-maintenance state, he quickly wormed his way into our hearts (and pillows) so that the option of a shelter was all but forgotten. He liked to be petted before bed, would not eat without company and wagged his tail like a dog when excited - especially so before getting into any sort of trouble.
At his great-big adult weight of nine pounds, Mojo still leaps down the stairs, a tiny ball of black, tail-wagging excitement whenever anyone comes home. Even the vet is still his cherished friend; he climbs all over her and curls up to sleep on her clipboard when he is done. Our world quickly changed around this little being in a way that we hadn’t thought possible, so that he became something to come home to, care for, and learn from.
Mojo taught me that unconditional love can be expressed in the smallest things like the wagging of a tail and the happiness expressed at someone’s return. He taught me that discipline is quickly forgotten in favor of climbing new garage door machinery, and that you can only guide the ones you love so far.
He taught me to cherish fleeting moments without regret at their passing, and that there is always another moment around the corner. He taught me that love and compassion create some of the greatest happiness in life, and that the smallest things can be the most significant.
How many people ignored that tiny cry for help? How many people found it easier to walk away, and in so doing, passed up the opportunity for a cherished friend?
We can find lessons in the smallest packages in life. A small, abandoned kitten can teach us so many things about compassion. The unconditional love of an animal is one of the greatest kinds of love we can earn – and if they can give it to us, why can we not give it to ourselves?
This selfless, unconditional love is something we practice each time we come home to our pets. They inject happiness in our lives and teach us, over time, to express love and compassion not just to others, but also to ourselves.
And when we have self-compassion, and can forgive our mistakes and treat ourselves with selfless love, we have earned an inner, unstoppable happiness.