A container of Kentucky Fried Chicken appeared to be dancing in the middle of the dark street, with a life of its own, so my husband I stopped to investigate.
Out of the chicken box crawled a terribly skinny kitten with long black fur and four bright white paws. She had been making that box dance, as she tried to lick out the last crumb. Now, she purred, leaning into me with her whole body. We adopted that little stray and named her “Little Boots.”
Little Boots thrived with cat food, a trip to the vet and lots of love. But she remained very small, and displayed the silliest behavior. She would sneak up on our other cats, as if to attack them, but she would be right in front of them, in plain sight. By the time she pounced, the cats had moved away. She couldn’t figure out how they knew she was coming.
It was only when we found her walking on a second story porch rail, precariously sticking her paw out into the air feeling for her next step, that we realized the obvious. Little Boots was blind.
From then on, that cat became my hero. Nothing stopped her. When she ran into a wall, she turned back and ran the other way. When she walked into a piece of furniture, she remembered where it was the next time. She didn’t sit still. Her little white paws were always out in the air in front of her, testing, to find her next foothold.
She was tiny and the world was dangerous. But Little Boots seemed to walk by faith, not sight.
We moved that little cat to four different apartments, and each time she had to relearn the lay of the land. Each time she had to adjust. She remains my role model for the easy-going traveler. She was always ready to adjust to her surroundings. That blind kitten travelled light and was open to anything. Her long cat stretches were nothing compared to her inner flexibility.
Human beings can be quite the opposite. We can panic in the face of change. Running into a wall makes us afraid to run anywhere. A move leaves us wondering if life will ever be good again.
Martin Luther King once said “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Perhaps wisdom is knowing, and admitting, that you never see the whole staircase. Nobody knows exactly what is ahead.
Little Boots was well aware that life was full of surprises. She never expected to know what was in front of her. But she moved forward anyway, not with fear but with delight.
When life throws the unexpected my way, I think of Little Boots, walking by faith and not by sight.