Thursday, June 16, 2016
My youngest son, Adam, brought me a picture he’d printed from the Internet. It showed the squashed flat faces of kittens crammed inside glass jars and bottles. His eyes sparked with tears as he said, “This is so terrible. We have to do something about this.”
I took the picture and examined it. “What do you think this is, Sweetie?” Adam is my cat loving, tender-heart.
“Can’t you see? They’re bonsai kittens. People grow kittens in jars so they grow deformed. It’s horrible. Bonsai kittens are just like those Japanese bushes.”
I looked at my teenaged child and thought about how to approach the subject of gullibility. He was well and truly upset. He was also well and truly duped.
I took it head-on. “Honey, think about this. How do you keep a little kitten alive inside a jar? Do you see feeding tubes? How about waste products? Or oxygen?”
But he saw what he saw, and seeing was believing. “Look!” He shook the pictures at me. “Look, Mom, it’s real.”
I tried again. “No. This is a hoax. Someone, somewhere, is laughing at your pain. Stop feeling and start thinking. You can’t grow a living kitten inside a jar into a jar shape. Think. How about a baby? Could you grow a baby inside a jar?”
I saw him struggle as doubts, questions, and reality filled his face—and then came chagrin—and now we were in truly dangerous territory.
Chagrin is the slightly less ugly stepsister of embarrassment, both of which are close incestuous cousins of pride.
I tried to head off his wounded pride. “It’s really good photo-shopping. It is. It looks like bonsai kittens growing in weird shapes inside bottles. It does. But it’s not real.”
“Well . . . it would be a terrible thing if it were true!”
“Yes. Yes it would. But it’s not true.”
He shrugged and picked up his giant lump of a cat named Charlie and left the room.
For a long tortured minute, Adam was sure, and bonsai kittens were real—to him.
WHAT I REALIZED: Reality is real. Perception is not reality, even when we are completely sure. Emotions are gut feelings, especially righteous indignation based on photo-shopped images of deformed kittens. Emotions can be full of the stuff that’s in our guts. Logic is a handy tool to have on speed-dial. Keep it real isn’t just a catchy slogan.
Bonsai kittens are not real.
Bonsai kittens are not real even if you are convinced they are real.
Bonsai kittens are NOT real even if a MAJORITY of Americans think that they are real.
So, in a week of swirling agendas, chasing the means that will justify the ends, I say, “Keep it real, my friends. Keep it real. And don’t let your wounded pride make ugly babies called embarrassment and chagrin.”
Linda (Kitten Heel) Zern
FYI: The word “Bon-sai” (often misspelled as bonzai or banzai) is a Japanese term which, literally translated, means “planted in a container”. This art form is derived from an ancient Chinese horticultural practice, part of which was then redeveloped under the influence of Japanese Zen Buddhism.