The Best I Could Do

I always have the television on in the kitchen while I fix and eat my meals. This morning, Saturday, my usual weekday selections not available, I scanned through the HBO suite of channels even though I did not desire to commit to watching a whole movie. I came upon a documentary in progress about the school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram four years ago. As I sat at the table and ate my egg and cheese croissant sandwich, reading the subtitles as the girls and child soldiers recounted their living nightmares, my cat Trixy began playing with a piece of red string on the floor of the dining room. She was really having a great time and pulled some pretty amazing acrobatic moves for an older kitty. Some of the girls were speaking in accented English that I could understand without subtitles, so I watched Trixy for awhile and then decided to get some video footage of her, using my nearby phone camera, because she was so cute. I was filming and listening to the show, and I thought: if I share this video, it will be a weird juxtaposition to have this soundtrack from the documentary in the background. I muted the sound. Then I thought: no, I don’t want to miss the show. So I paused it instead and filmed for 15 or 20 more seconds. I stopped not because Trixy quit playing but because I suddenly felt awkward, then guilty, then ashamed, that I wanted to shut out the sound of real-life horrors and atrocities so I could focus on my innocent, oblivious kitty. If only those girls could have paused their lives to watch a small animal play instead of being treated as an animal themselves, their human dignity ripped away. I felt like a terrible person for thinking I didn’t want this soundtrack of tragedy accompanying my blissfully playing kitty. But then I thought: if I get up from this table right now and do something to help those girls or other kidnap victims or to eradicate the Boko Haram group, what would it be? I could think of nothing remotely realistic. Nothing except to put the camera down and keep watching the show, only the show, all the way to the end. Then put the dishes in the dishwasher.

Nederland. I live in Colorado with three cats. (and hoping my fourth missing one finds her way back home) I write and photograph a travel blog at