curiosity across disciplines

Cat poop and perception

Reality is riddled with limitations.

Our physiological existence is finite.

Our attentional existence is finite.

This seems airtight, but in case you need convincing, I'll gesture toward the fact that the light from the edge of just the observable universe, some 14 billion light years, is just getting to us now. And the universe is bigger than that.

Happily, to help with our finitude we have wonder, which can't exist without limitations.

Wonder is likely impossible to satisfactorily define, however, my best distillation of its various forms is: simultaneously appreciating what we know and what we don't know.

It's found in the paradoxical realization that we are finite creatures with machinations on the infinite.

And that's beautiful.

But what's the other side of this fancy coin? If this nigh-magical thing we call a brain can understand and uncover universal-scale ideas, how do we keep in mind our smallness? How do we stay humble?

Cat poop.

I rarely see my cat poop.

Yet, I find it unceremoniously awaiting me every morning.

And despite writing about it for what is already far too long (poetically, even bad writing is finite), cat poop is not what I would consider a profound part of my life. It's there, I scoop. That's about it. However, even if it's little more than drudgery, it is a part of my life.

What about all the stuff and people and moments I'm not experiencing at all? How much of reality do I really get to know?

And how much of what I think I know is getting in the way of what I understand?

Everyday life is littered with invitations like cat poop; mental switches we can flip to tap into the reminder that existence is both tiny and significant. These switches (the more ridiculous and memorable the better) help discard the bits of thinking preventing us from experiencing as much as possible of the beautiful slice we do get.

So, perhaps you should find your own version of cat turds.

And if you have a cat, I'm sorry...ish. Cats are swell, but good luck getting me out of your brain now!

P.S. I hope you enjoyed your toxoplasmosis joke, Mike!