Sometimes our cats spend the night outside doing whatever it is cats do all night. When they come inside in the morning they eat, play a little, then pass out for the day. Our stray cat Percy came back yesterday and was covered with wounds and scratches. It was painful to see that he had been badly beaten up in a fight and came to our house to lick his wounds. We fed him, gave him clean water, pet him a little, then left him alone to rest. He came back again this afternoon, still badly needing rest and some peace and quiet. Again we tended to his practical needs, then left him alone to rest on our porch.
There really wasn’t much we could do other than give him space to recover. He knew he was safe to be in a weakened state here, and that alone is priceless. It is hard to see those we care about hurting. One can feel very helpless as you stand by watching those around you heal. We want to contribute and provide a solution. We want to make things all better. That isn’t always possible, so the best thing we can do is provide space for rest and rejuvenation.
I’ve watched basically the same thing happen to friends and colleagues. They work hard on a project or venture only to fall down, get bruised badly, or fail miserably. The hours and nights they spent working towards the goal have taken their toll. They come for advice or comfort, really needing a safe place to deposit their disappointments and renewed fears. They need someone to listen and assure them that this low period of time will not last forever. They do not need us to fix things, they simply need us to listen. It can be painful to see their wounds so fresh and open. It can be hard not to rob them of the lesson this failure will provide by talking away the discomfort. The failure they are experiencing may be the best way for them to learn what they need to know to succeed in the future.
When I am with people and pets alike, I want to fix things and make them feel better. Because let’s face it, it makes me feel better getting things fixed. But fixing is not always the best medicine. Time, rest, and learning are more often the best path forward. The kindest thing to do is to let them lick their wounds and learn what they can to be more successful next time. And I learn that doing nothing can more often produce the best results of all. At one time or another we all need to lick our wounds, and we need a safe place to do it. Being that safe place is a gift beyond measure.