Black cats and the privileged life

When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love …

– Marcus Aurelius

I was walking to the library this morning and a black cat jumped right out in front of me. I don’t know how I didn’t step on him except that he moved so quickly that he’d rustled out of the bushes, onto the pavement, and across to the other side of the road in the time it took for me to blink.

“Now,” I think, “a black cat crosses your path – is this lucky? or unlucky?”

It’s frosty this morning. Car windows are iced over and rain water has frozen in the potholes on the road. There’s a dusting of white on roofs and front lawns. The frost only lightly coats the grass, a balayage of green roots and white tips, and the lawns appear blue as I approach.

The sky is blue too. There are no clouds, just a few criss-cross trails left by planes leaving and arriving into distant Heathrow airport. I’m always fascinated when planes fly overhead. I wonder where they are going, where they’ve come from and who is onboard. Someone going away for the weekend. Someone returning from a business trip. Someone relocating to a new country, no return ticket, all excitement and nerves. Or someone reluctantly returning to work and the humdrum of daily life after a fabulous two week holiday in the Seychelles.

Yes, those plane tracks in the sky, they make me wander.

I pass through country lanes with large country manors. The lanes all have wonderfully descriptive names: Cherry Orchard, Olive Tree Grove, Four Seasons, Pleasure Pit Lane. The manors are old and majestic, their large grounds enclosed by walls covered in holly and ivy.

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I take a public footpath to cross through several fields. They are usually empty save for large electricity pylons, one in each field. Modernity at its best. Today though, one field holds nine horses all standing in a line, five in blue coats, four in red. They ignore me as I walk past, occupied with sniffing and grazing.

My walk is on a gradual incline and when I reach the highest point I can look down on the village – odd rooftops poking out through bare, spidery trees.

For the rest of my journey I will follow a roman wall built in the year something something AD. It is all that remains of a roman road built to connect the two ancient, but still functioning, towns situated either side of my village.

I’m starting to get closer to town now and the houses are much smaller and placed closer together, an Architecture of Ages native to England with Tudor walls, and Georgian roofs, Victorian windows, and 1990’s front porches.

I reach the park and see two young children on the swings, being gently rocked by their grandparents, squealing to go higher. There’s a block of grass that’s been in the sun since it first dawned and has lost its white frost, shimmering green in the sunlight.

The ducks are lining the pond, some sitting on the roof of their wooden house, the only part that now remains above water level after it was destroyed at the start of winter in a vicious hurricane. The council has not yet sent someone to build them a new one. With all the human property damage that occurred, they were hardly a priority and, being ducks, it’s not like they can write a letter of complaint to their local MP.

There’s a slowly rotating sheet of ice in the centre of the pond that reminds me of the skin on cold custard. A single wren stands unsteadily in the middle.

Ten minutes more walking and I’m in the busy town centre, equipped with train station, shopping centre, and graphic design school.

My Spot in the library is waiting for me. It’s the desk by the window so I can look out. Beneath the window is a radiator making My Spot nice and toasty, perfect for this frosty season.

As I contemplate getting a coffee to aid my compulsory procrastination, a sudden revelatory thought appears:

I am lucky.

Now that this wonderful morning has passed, it can not be taken away, stored forever in my memory. And one day in the future, when life does not seem nearly as great, I’ll always be able to remember and know: That was real. I really had a morning like that. I really had a life like that.

As I stand in line for coffee, I realise my life is beyond being lucky; it is a true privilege.

When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love …

– Marcus Aurelius


2 thoughts on “Black cats and the privileged life

    1. It was the best. I can’t believe how many times I’ve done that walk and never appreciated the beauty of it – too busy fantasising about being somewhere else, always off in fairyland. Goes to show how beautiful the world can be when you pay attention. Thanks for commenting (and reading too!) 🙂


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