I recently came across a piece of writing attributed to Charlie Chaplin, titled “As I Began to Love Myself.” Chaplin supposedly wrote this on his 70th birthday, although nobody seems to know for sure whether he actually did. It resonated deeply with me, but it also struck me how much of this wisdom is modeled for us by our cats. Maybe it’s an occupational hazard of being a cat writer that everything eventually comes back to cats for me – but I just had to share it with you.
As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is AUTHENTICITY. (Cats don’t seem to have any trouble being who they are in all circumstances.)
As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it RESPECT. (Have you ever met a cat who has tried to change another cat, or person?)
As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it MATURITY. (To me, there’s something so serene about mature, senior cats – like they’ve found the secret to life.)
As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it SELF-CONFIDENCE. (Ruby invented self-confidence.)
As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it SIMPLICITY. (Cats have an unfailing ability to revel in life’s small moments.)
As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is LOVE OF ONESELF. (I think all cats are little egoists at heart.)
As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is MODESTY. (Probably not a trait shared by many cats.)
As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it FULFILLMENT. (Living in the moment is, of course, the biggest lesson cats teach us.)
As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection WISDOM OF THE HEART. (Cats naturally connect us with our hearts.)
We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know THAT IS LIFE!
Loving yourself can be hard for many. If that’s true for you, I urge you to spend some time contemplating these wise words. Really let them sink in. And then, maybe look to your cats to help remind you to bring more self-love into your life.
Photo of Charlie Chaplin by First National Studios [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons