“Clean.”

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It just occurred to me that I’ve been approaching my Ten collection in the wrong manner. The Tens were initially started as an attempt to fossilise time, to collect bits and pieces of memorabilia – the souvenirs of life – in preparation for when my kitties shuffle off the mortal coil. But perhaps I had missed the real point entirely.

Half an hour ago, I spent 5 minutes watching Blackie and Poppy clean themselves, and the richness of that experience made me realise the true beauty of the endeavour is not in the documentation, but in the documenting. I’ve seen my cats clean themselves hundreds of times before, but never really watched them closely. More’s the pity. So I’ve missed hundreds of these delightful, surprisingly soothing little moments.

Blackie started off by laying back on his back, then rearing halfway up in an impressive ab-crunch to reach in the sweet spot between his back legs. He worked his way up from lower abdomen to, amazingly, his chest area, holding the ab-crunch position for a good few minutes. I know he has different vertebrae from me, but just imagining myself doing that gave me a neck crick and sore abs. How are cats so magnificently constructed?

I also realised he had a lot more white fur on his belly than before. And so time marches on and on.

Poppy’s cleaning was a lot more modest. He sprawled on his front and spent a strangely long time licking his left paw over the other. He might have moved on to greater things (like the rest of his foreleg?) but I interrupted him as I was creeping forward to take a closer look. Now he is sitting on the table, staring pensively into the distance, as though he’d forgotten what it was he was supposed to do.

I’m glad I had these moments today, that made my day more than just a list of things to complete. A brief flash of authenticity brought on by the consideration of impending death, Heidegger-style.

But now that transcendent moment is over, and I return to my to-do list.

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