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Monday, January 30, 2006


When I first got my cat Midnight in 1990, she purred so loud at times that she could be heard by people I spoke to over the phone. I always thought it was innocently comical and yet soothing at the same time. I could certainly understand her contentment. She was born in barn and all of a sudden, she was living the good life—complete with her choice of her favorite wet food and dry food (not to mention a lot of people food) and a comfy spot in my waterbed each night.

All these years later, she still purrs often. Not quite as loud as she once did, but loud enough to be heard. On Saturday night/Sunday morning, I got up at 2:30 am to watch the men's finals of the Australian Open. Midnight was sleeping on top of me when I decided to drag myself out of bed. She begrudgingly followed me to the recliner and plopped down in my lap. Not long after that, I could hear her slow, steady purr—at least for a couple of minutes. Then she zonked out.

After she fell asleep, I started to wonder if humans have an equivalent to purring—some outward indicator that we are perfectly content in the moment. Maybe a genuine laugh or a smile could be one form of purring. Maybe being totally engaged in a movie or television program without trying, or feeling the need, to do 14 other things at the same time is another form. Or how about losing track of time while reading a favorite book, or talking on the phone with a friend, or participating in a favorite hobby? Surely that's another form of purring.

Contentment, as an abstract concept, often feels elusive. But I don't think it's all that difficult to find. It's just hard to recognize. Maybe it's because we have grand visions of bliss rather than simply looking for contentment in the small things of life.


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