When I need a dose of sanity, do you know where I go? I go to Sirius's room.
Sirius is my gratitude role model. I may enter his room feeling frayed from the pull of everyday challenges, but by the time I leave, my breathing has evened out, my thoughts have stilled, my longing for what I don't have has evaporated. And to think I've been paying a therapist for years!
How does this transformation happen? Usually it starts when I spot his ragged left ear. How that torn flesh, ripped like a piece of paper, must have hurt for weeks afterwards. Next I rub his scarred nose, injured in the same fight perhaps, but more likely in another. For surely Sirius was forced into many unwelcome battles during his time on the streets. Unneutered males rarely tolerate the presence of other cats in their territory, and Sirius, the former housecat, would have discovered his error too late.
In one of these brawls, Sirius was bitten by an FIV cat. Somewhere, then, beneath his soft black and white fur, lies the scar that changed his future.
But Sirius does not know this. What he knows is that he spends his days in a warm, comfortable room. He knows that he never wants anymore for healthy food or clean water. He knows that the "mice" he catches now are for sport only, not for dinner. And he knows that many times a day a loving stranger visits. Sometimes she drags toys underneath his quilted blanket or sends colorful foil balls scuttling across the room. Other times she lies on the couch and invites the giant tuxedo boy to stretch himself out, full-body, on her chest. And when he does, she strokes his face and whiskers, knowing that his eyes will close with pleasure and his purrs will make his body, and hers, vibrate.
Sirius has forgotten his past suffering; any future suffering remains unknown. He is grateful now. Not an hour ago. Not tomorrow. Now.
And from him, I take away the lesson.