I was walking home from Gavin's just now when I noticed a cat sitting by the side of the river. She was just waiting in the dark, watching. As I passed, she turned to look at me, then resumed staring and thinking.
I was struck by curiosity - what was she thinking? How could I ever possibly know what a cat thinks about in its leisure time? As I reflected on this, I recognised the same awe and wonder I felt when my little sister was too young to speak. I'd stroke her short, wispy hair while she played with duplo bricks, and wonder what was going on in her oddly-shaped babyhead. She was thinking, all right; she was doing some of the most rapid learning any human ever gets to do - she just had no words for it yet.
This is something that affects all of us at some time or another. As we grow, our thoughts progress from "I don't want to go to Grandma's house, it smells funny" to "Her routine and standards are completely alien to me, and she reminds me of my own mortality and that of my parents." The same feelings, just different thoughts. Just because we learn new words.
Sometimes I wonder if words interfere with the experience. I've been writing for so long now that I can't sit and watch anything without describing it to myself, layering the sights, sounds and smells with words. This isn't a bad thing; words are beautiful, words are another way of digesting an experience - but between that and my obsessive photography, I don't often stay in the moment and just drink it all in.
It's at times like that I envy the cat. She has no words to describe the wind brushing through her fur; the sound of the river trickling over loose pebbles; the occasional sight of a lone human walking tiredly home. She just experiences it, raw and unprocessed; she just Is. She just Is a Cat, and things Are what they Are. Maybe that should be enough for me sometimes too.
This is what I was thinking about as I walked home tonight. The church tower chimed twelve, and I wondered how I'd describe it to you.