“Be properly scared and go on doing what you have to do.”
—Flannery O’ Connor
I have no idea if my cat Zelda is scared, but I can think of lots of reasons she might be. She lives in the house with 4 other pets, including a large black dog who tries desperately to be her friend and a large pushy cat who does not want to be her friend and eats all the food before she can get to it. Besides all that, Zelda has lived in 4 different houses and moved with us 3 times, including a 4-day cross-country trek to Canada. By nature, she is not a super-friendly cat and we have to warn our guests not to get too close lest they be scratched. So I’m guessing all this stress has taken its toll.
But one thing she does know, and that’s how to take Flannery O’Connor’s advice and “be scared” but go on doing what she has to do. And one of the things she has to do is find heat wherever she can to warm her skinny little body. Sometimes that’s found in my lap, but often it’s found on the stove after we’ve cooked something in the oven. And when she finds that warmth, she stretches out, blinks her eyes with contentment, and soaks up whatever heat is left until it’s gone.
Like her, I also try keep going, to let myself be scared, but then put things on the “back burner” in order to go on doing what I have to do. The advantage of putting things on the back burner (even temporarily) is it gets you near the stove. And when you’re near the stove, you’re more likely to soak up a little excess heat. Which sometimes is precisely what it takes to let yourself be scared and precisely what you need to go on doing what you have to do.