As I write this, I am watching an orange tiger cat cross our lawn here at my brother’s home in Chazy, N.Y. She strolls leisurely along with her tail undulating as if it were conducting the slow movement of a symphony. She is unbothered by traffic going by and the wind whistling through the air. This orange tiger cat belongs to the present moment and is simply enjoying being itself.

I grew up surrounded by various animals on our dairy farm in Vermont. There were many cats, mostly half-wild barn cats, but we always had one or two tamed cats living with us in the house. The cat I most remember was named Hey You because as a young kitten, he was always making a nuisance of himself and getting into places where he wasn’t supposed to be. Then someone would shout, “Hey you, get out of there!” And that name stuck!

Hey You was a black and white, independent-minded, arrogant cat with a “personality” who did what he pleased, when he pleased. He was also very affectionate when he thought he could get a choice morsel of food. He loved to stretch out on the top of the back of Dad’s reclining chair where he could keep his eye on everything that was going on. When he wanted to go outdoors or come inside, he would jump up and curl his paws around the doorknob until it rattled to let us know that he wanted in or out.

Hey You never seemed to have a problem being himself. He didn’t care what we thought about the way he walked or waved his tail. He was totally himself all the time. Unlike Hey You and that orange tiger cat who is now indolently lying on the sunkissed grass surveying her surroundings, we humans tend to wonder what those around us think we should be like: what we should wear, what we should say, how we should live our lives.

Many times the result is that we wear masks and try to be what others want us to be, without trying to be what God wants us to be. We tend to focus on our weaknesses rather than on our strengths. We like to criticize and complain rather than seek the positive and good in persons or situations.

What do cats know that we don’t? I believe they are at peace with themselves, they like being cats … they are not trying to be dogs. They are good at being cats, and they enjoy concentrating on improving the art of being a cat.

To be ourselves and not try to be like someone else is appropriate behavior. It fits; it’s comfortable and fun for us and for those around us. There is a feeling of rightness in being ourselves … even a bit of peace and contentment as we enjoy the present moment of “being”.

No matter what others may think, let us always strive to be ourselves, to be who and what God wants us to be.