“I want to do that,” flashed through my mind. It was, in fact, the first, impulsive thought that came to me as I watched my cat Tuppence sauntering across the roof of my one-story cottage. She had been sitting quietly at the top-most peak of the roof when I pulled my car into the driveway; but as I made my approach toward the house, she began walking along the entire outer edge of the structure – arched tail, ho-hum pace, devil-may-care attitude. The kind of walk that runway models assume for Victoria’s Secret.
With complete envy and admiration, the thought broke into a smile and spoke out loud in my head in awe: “I really want to do that.” Not the model thing … the roof thing. And maybe not exactly the roof thing … but the idea of it. The experience of it.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve see Tuppence roof-walk. But it was the first time that it reached out to me in invitation. The first time it became an example. The first time it represented something maybe even significant.
Tuppence has her own personal access to the roof. I’ve seen her use it – a vine that creeps its way with hefty woody stems all the way from the ground, in and out and along the top of a fence, up the side of the house, all the way to the edge of the roof. So my first observation is that she walks on the roof because she can. She has access. She has ability. She has her pathway. Perhaps she keeps it secret. Perhaps she shares with friends. But it’s hers to use as she pleases. And so she does.
I’ve also noted that when Tuppence is walking the roof, she is having a great deal of fun. The casual pace, the cool kids swagger, the assumed indifference – it’s all illusion. This is fun. The kind of fun that you feel inside your ribs and on the bottoms of your feet. The best day ever kind of fun. The do it again, please, fun. She may not want to show it, but Tuppence walks the roof for the pure joy of it.
And what, I wonder, does the world look like to Tuppence when she is at the very peak of the roof? What delight must she take in the vast expanses she can see in all directions. Over fences, across strange yards. Far above dog houses and birds nests. To be able to see over all the heads of all the people below. All the roofs of the cars passing by. Eye-to-eye with squirrels and other climbing, flying creatures. Up among the air currents – summer breezes and fragrant blooms, winter chimney scents of wood fires and warm rooms. And at night. The stars must seem so much closer, the moon un-obscured. When one is so tiny – when one is Tuppence tiny – what joy it must be to rise so far above one’s typical reality. And so, I suspect, Tuppence roof-walks because of the perspective. The new, daring, freeing, perspective.
“I want to do that.”
Perhaps not coincidentally, I have felt compelled lately to learn to embrace a more empathetic life. One filled not just with compassion or love or altruism. But with true empathy – experiencing the interconnectedness of all things of life and being. Perhaps this will be my “roof.” And perhaps Tuppence will be a significant lesson for me in learning to walk it. To do it for the possibilities. To do it for the joy. To do it for the view.