I thought today about the incredible ease that comes to life when you do — or have something done — in the right way. Cutting corners and jerry-rigging are never worth it. Today was a case in point. Bobby, our cat (this isn’t his picture, but it looks just like him), needed his claws trimmed. The vet was full and recommended a grooming place about a half-hour’s walk away (well, 40 minutes with a cat-stroller).
Now, Bobby can be temperamental and touching his paws is really outside his comfort zone. I’ve never found anyone who could reliably accomplish the feline-manicure feat on a reliable basis. Over the years, I’ve heard, “I got three of them done” (meaning three out of twenty claws, not three out of four paws), and, often, “You’ll have to take this cat somewhere else.” I’ve tried to do the deed myself, of course, but I failed far more miserably than the professionals.
So, reluctantly, I approached Snowball’s Pet Grooming
at 106th & Columbus Avenue. It’s a small place, clean as a pin, with smallish dogs in cages appearing to put up with their temporary incarceration quite nicely. “Let me take him,” the groomer said, commandeering the stroller. Bobby was stuck to it with one of his overgrown claws, however, and I was saying, “I can get him out. Please, let me do it. I know how.” The groomer extricated him and said to me: “You have to be calm. They pick up on your anxiety.” I wanted to say: “Look here: I’m a life coach and I’ve written a whole stack of self-help books. Don’t tell me I have anxiety.” But she was telling the gospel truth: I had anxiety.
Then in one fell swoop by two trained pairs of hands, Bobby was lifted onto the table and outfitted with a kitty-muzzle. (Yes, it looked like something but Man in the Iron Mask but it was cloth and didn’t seem horrible.) Within 60 seconds, 90 tops, the full mani-pedi was accomplished. Bobby was back in his stroller, unmuzzled, and after a single audible hiss (I mean, a cat’s gotta do what a cat’s gotta do), all was well. For ten bucks.
As we walked home through the wild and woodsy upper stretches of Central Park, I thought about the ease of doing things right. It means they only have to be done once. Sometimes it costs more (not today), but there’s no having to pay to fix a bungle. Do it right, and one detail of life is put to bed.
What this has to do with spirituality and charmed living is simple: mundane details, lovely though they can sometimes be when approached with mindfulness and appreciation, nevertheless take up a lot of time and brain space. When they’re efficiently dispatched with, you get to go on to what comes next — no being held back, like doing 4th grade over to master long division. When the details are done with, there’s time and brain space for creative pursuits, the people you love, changing the world for the better, and getting to know God. Tell me there’s something better than that.