#SATurday: What Scares Us

10 Jan

#SATurday: What Scares Us

At night – more accurately early morning – I crawl into bed to sleep, and my little (Okay. He’s fat) cat companion follows me. We cuddle up to one another, and I pretend to sleep. I say ‘pretend’ because this is the eternal mode of an insomniac.

If I had to describe this bedtime ritual more accurately, I would have to explain how I curl up on my left side – facing the window in case I get bored – and Bogart the black cat stretches out behind me, paws pressed against my back. He falls asleep quickly – with the kind of timing I envy – and I only know this because of his feet.

It starts slowly at first. His bottom paws puts pressure on my lower back, and then, his front paws twitch. He sometimes whines, but not every time. When he does whine, it’s not very long until the pressure increases. His paws move and tap and push and I know he is dreaming.

He is running.

My panther.

My panther.

Still, I can’t exactly ask what he’s dreaming about. Since he’s been an indoor cat most of his life, I often wonder why he is running, but I mainly wonder if he is running to something or away from something. If he’s anything like me – and I’m told pets are often like their owners – he’s probably running away from something. It might even be a Jurassic Park dinosaur. (I will probably write about this phobia of mine in the future.) But it does sadden me to think he might have a phobia of his own, one he can’t even talk about. Although he often startles out of his sleep with a loud meow, I can’t imagine it’s the same comfort I got when I was a child since I could explain a nightmare to a parent or a friend. He’ll definitely never get the advice I received from my mom:

Turn your nightmares into stories. If they don’t make sense, explain them. If they scare you, become the heroine and face them. If they defeat you, let them but grow from them – a.k.a. get them next time. But most of all, embrace them. And if you fail, it’s okay that you ran. In the end, you could’ve run so far you ended up in a new world entirely – filled with adventures you would’ve never experienced otherwise. Running could’ve put you exactly where you were supposed to be all along.

What scares us can be the very thing pushing us to truly live.

~SAT on #SATurday

P.S. Want your OWN photo of Bogart the cat? Donate today and get a custom photo, taken just for you, of this furry feline. (He loves modeling.)


24 Responses to “#SATurday: What Scares Us”

  1. M.A. January 10, 2015 at 1:06 am #

    Your mother sounds like someone worth listening to. My take: we wouldn’t have evolved fear as an emotion if there weren’t some things it makes sense to be afraid of. And we wouldn’t have evolved the ability to run if there weren’t some things it was wise to flee from. The tricks I’m trying to master are 1) not running from the imaginary 2) turning and facing what I can’t outrun, imaginary or not, and 3) accepting the fear without letting it keep me from living.

    • Shannon A Thompson January 10, 2015 at 1:21 am #

      She was a great person, and I love your three goals in regards to fear. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      • M.A. January 10, 2015 at 1:26 am #

        Also, when I can’t sleep (when I am, say, awake at 1:25 on a Saturday morning), I find it helps to write. It doesn’t necessarily help me sleep, but if helps me feel better about not sleeping. And thank you for sharing your thoughts and words.

      • Shannon A Thompson January 10, 2015 at 1:27 am #

        Same here! It’s 1:27 a.m. right now 🙂 It’s also nice to read.

  2. enkousama January 10, 2015 at 3:42 am #

    Now I gotta now what that dinosaur thing was all about. You have a panther – why fears dinosaurs?

    • Shannon A Thompson January 10, 2015 at 5:34 am #

      Jurassic Park is only the beginning. I hate sharks, too. Jaws. And apes. Planet of the Apes – the original one. ::shudders:: I basically can’t handle movies. I blame the fact that I wasn’t allowed to watch tv as a kid.

      • enkousama January 12, 2015 at 6:00 am #

        Oh dear, I feel so sorry for you. And here I thought you’d be into horror movies

  3. Marianne Knowles January 10, 2015 at 6:50 am #

    A writer in one of my critique groups is turning a nightmare into a kick-ass story. I’ll share your post with her!

    • Shannon A Thompson January 10, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

      I love hearing about others doing it, too! And thank you for sharing this post. I hope she likes it. :]

  4. InfoJunkie January 10, 2015 at 7:30 am #

    I love that advice!

    • Shannon A Thompson January 10, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

      Me, too. It’s stuck with me for my entire life, and my writing career has practically revolve around it.

  5. Charles Yallowitz January 10, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    For some reason it never crossed my mind that animals could have nightmares. Dreams, yes. Bad dreams? Nope. Kind of thought they didn’t have that issue. Learned something new.

    • Shannon A Thompson January 10, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

      Haha. I guess that makes a point though – he might not be having a nightmare. I just assume from the way he reacts when he wakes up, but perhaps, I’m only seeing myself. Another great mystery remains unsolved.

      • Charles Yallowitz January 10, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

        I know a few people who always have trouble realizing they’re awake for the first minute of consciousness. Only way to find out is if cats decide to talk to us like Garfield.

  6. alexlaybourne January 10, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    It is a great way to teach children to cope with bad dreams. We are lucky. Our children are all good sleepers, and touch wood, have never had any problems with nightmares of the like.

    On the animal front, our dog – Zombie – is always squeking and groainging in his sleep.

    • Shannon A Thompson January 10, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

      First – I must say, what an awesome name for a dog. I can just imagine someone outside yelling, “Come on, Zombie! Time for dinner.” That is the best.
      Second, when I was a kid I definitely hated my dreams. I still have them, too, but I’ve gotten used to them – even though they are ALWAYS strangely violent and awfully depressing. Not sure why. There’s a night every now and then when I can’t go back to sleep, but those are pretty rare.

  7. Val January 10, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    Cute story! Thanks

  8. theowllady January 10, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.

  9. Jes2G January 11, 2015 at 11:04 am #

    Ha! Pretending to sleep. I know that very well. Thanks for following me!

  10. marcuscanon January 11, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    I loved this.

    I have had a few cats and know what they’re like. At least yours is not like the tomcat, Zack, that I used to have. Every night he would sleep on top of me. This was no problem, of course. No: it was the manner of his arrival that was disconcerting.

    Zack was as adventurous as most male cats. He couldn’t do anything discretely. He strolled into the bedroom (I know, because I watched him one night) and jumped onto the cabinets opposite the foot of the bed. From there he sprang up onto the wardrobe. From the edge of this high perch, he then carefully lined himself up and after a few twitches of his tail, he launched himself a good nine feet across the darkened room, landing on my stomach or crotch…Aargh!

    He did this every night and was normally deadly accurate. I assumed that it was the softest landing for him. I got to the point that I didn’t even start up in bed and yell when the 7lb missile impacted at high speed onto my nether regions: I would just open a bleary eye and see the dim furry head in my night vision, stroke him and go back to sleep while he padded.

    If I can add something that may be useful, since you are concerned about your cat having nightmares or dreams it is this: whilst it is possible he is dreaming, it is also possible that he is padding whilst asleep. The reason that cats pad is because they are going back to their early days as kittens when they padded to feel for a teat on their mother, as far as I know. Padding is the best compliment that a cat can pay you because it shows that they trust you like their mother, however painful it can be! Maybe your cat is just expressing how content he is, even in his dreams.

    Marcus Canon

  11. Nadine Tomlinson January 13, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    “What scares us can be the very thing pushing us to truly live.”

    What an eye-opener! Thanks for this insight, Shannon. It has now become my new meditation topic.


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    […] #SATurday: What Scares Us […]

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    […] What Scares Us: Nightmares and cats and life. […]

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