The effect of a cat on motivation and routine

The effect of a cat on motivation and routine

<alt img="Controlling Cat"/>

If deciding at the last minute to take on a reasonable facsimile of NaNoWriMo was to serve a purpose, it has only taken two days to realize it. Before I was out of bed this morning, mind habitually processing what the day would entail, I recognized the spark of emotion related to motivation. An excuse to ignore everything and with coffee in hand, park myself in front of my Mac. This had to be a good thing.

But something happened on the way to the kitchen. My cat happened. This is not unusual. In fact, it’s routine. Her morning greeting is urgent and gains volume as I approach the front door. She wants out, and it never seems to matter that my husband has been up and about, and has already let her out. She always returns for the ceremonial exercise that only she and I engage in.

I open the door and she grumbles as she passes over the threshold, stopping just before she’s completely outside. I wait, she looks at me, grumbles once more before leaning her posterior against the door. I decide I’ll wait until the third or fourth time we’ve completed the round to go out onto the porch and scratch the furry belly wantonly displayed for just that purpose. Priorities. I need to make coffee.

Once the Bialetti is on, I fill the dishwasher, rinse the sinks, prepare a large bowl of cold, sudsy water for quick wash ups during the day, and assess the rest of the kitchen. It’s good enough to give the impression it’s clean, but more importantly, won’t distract me from the day’s mission: writing.

Before the coffee begins to well up in the moka pot, I can hear the cat scratching at the front door. She’ll want in, I’ll have a cat food can in hand, ask her if she’d like to eat and pop the lid to get her attention.

It works every time. She stands as close to the threshold as possible without actually touching it, licking her lips, yelling simultaneously. I know I’ll have to go out onto the porch, and nudge her inside before the game is over. She will be satisfied for a time knowing her food is where it should be, in her bowl. All will be well in her world.

Coffee now burnt, I tell myself more milk will help, though I know it won’t. That spark of motivation felt earlier has now turned to an annoyance. I recall how long I worked on the piece I wrote yesterday, fiddling with photos, making attempts to write something meaningful when what I set out to do was just write.

Something occurrs to me. If I was going to spend the better part of a day fussing over a blog post, why wouldn’t I spend that time organizing manuscript revisions? Why, indeed.

November stretches ahead in my mind, its interruptions now in full focus. Thanksgiving aside, I have a trip booked immediately following and will be gone for a week. And then there is the “staycation” we thought we were so smart to decide upon which officially begins tomorrow.

I tell myself I’ll have so much to write about.  Stay calm and carry on! And I will. But it has only taken two days to remind myself of a lesson I seem never to learn. I don’t have to commit to an event to engage in an activity, or to change a behavior. To take on a new interest, or rekindle motivation in those once beloved. There isn’t a magic date on a calendar, a finish line, a set of guidelines or rules.

There is just me, and whatever it is I set out to do. I have to decide whether that matters or not. The problems is, far too many things matter.

My coffee is now cold, and the cat is sitting just at my office door, yelling. When I get up to reheat my coffee, she will scurry down the stairs ahead of me, grumbling all the way out the back door where I will be expected to give her a morning brushing, and then find tender shoots of grass for her to chew on.

Routine is what we make of it — or what it makes of us.

Day 3, check.