This post first appeared March 20, 2007. Since then, we have replaced the noisy coffee maker with one even more ferocious, and Mike nearly collapses every time it grinds the beans.
I have a new coffee maker--a Cuisinart Automatic Grind and Brew. At night, I fill the thing up with beans and water, set the timer, and magically the coffee appears at 6:40 the next morning, hot and fresh. An entire night's sleep has gone by since I set it up, which is enough time for me to forget what I have done, so it's as if I had a coffee fairy in my kitchen.
But this isn't about coffee. It's about fear. My cat Mike is afraid of most things but mostly men. If he hears a man's voice, he hides. If he hears heavy shoes on the floor that might be man shoes, he hides. If he hears loud, boisterous laughter that might be from a man, he hides. If he hears anything unusual coming from a room, even a room he enjoys like the kitchen as it contains his food, he hides.
My cat Mike also loves food, which is why he is a twenty-pound kitty. He doesn't seem to be governed by appetite control but thinks that if I am in the kitchen it must be time to eat. When I wake in the morning and walk into the kitchen for breakfast, he races in ahead of me and waits for me to fill his bowl. But now that I have an Automatic Grind and Brew coffee maker, with a very loud growling, grinding mechanism, he doesn't race so much. He hides, sitting on the steps just around the corner.
At 6:25, when the timer goes off and the grinder cranks up, you can hear it all the way into the farthest corner of the upper level of the house. It's a little scary even for a human, so for poor Mike, this foreign sound is enough to keep him from his favorite thing in life, the thing that gives him joy and satisfaction—food.
When I first saw Mike's reaction to the coffee grinding, I thought, "what a stupid idiot," but people are no different. The growling, grinding thing around the corner makes us want to hide on the steps, too—afraid to look around the corner in case there is an ensnaring threat—but maybe that growling, grinding thing isn't a threat at all. Maybe it's a gift, an opportunity, a thing that will give joy and satisfaction.
It looks and sounds like a threat because it's unfamiliar, but underneath all the noise and the scariness, the potential for danger, there is something delectable brewing, something waiting to be poured into your cup and to provide joy and satisfaction. If you sit on the steps just around the corner, just out of reach of what waits for you, you'll miss out on the whole thing. And all because of a little noise.