A friend of mine lives in an apartment complex across town. There’s nothing special about this complex, but one thing: A cat named Ugly.
Now, everyone in the complex knows who Ugly is: The resident tomcat. And that name? Well-warranted.
Ugly had a single eye, and across his face, where the other eye should have been, was a gaping hole. His left ear was likewise missing, and his left front foot was similarly, shall we say, damaged; it dragged at a forty-five degree angle, so it looked like he was always trying to turn right.
Ugly had a tail, sort of, but it was just a stub, which he was always jerking and twitching about. His head, neck, and shoulders were covered with thick, yellow scabs.
There could not have been a more appropriately named cat.
Now Ugly wasn’t much to look at it, but he was certainly loved and as such, the residents of my friend’s complex put up with Ugly’s three vices: Fighting, digging through garbage, and loving up on people.
Now, new residents would always warn their kids not to touch him. To stay away from the ugly, dangerous looking cat. But it didn’t matter.
No matter what you did to Ugly, his response was to love on you. New residents would spray him with water, thinking him an unwanted stray. Ugly’s reaction? To take it until you gave up, then curl himself around their legs as if begging for forgiveness for whatever it is he did to upset them.
Same with kids–Ugly would come running up, meowing, looking for love. If you picked him up, he’d purr away.
Well, one day, Ugly apparently tried to love the new neighbors’ huskies…and the huskies apparently didn’t care for it. Ugly was badly mauled.
My friend ran out to try and save Ugly, but it was too late as he lay in a grotesque shape, torn open. My friend tried to save him, anyway, rushing him home in his arms to take him to an emergency vet.
And as he did? Ugly reached out to try and suckle his ear, purring all the while, even as he lay dying in my friend’s arms.
Ugly died before my friend could get him inside, much less take him to a vet. But the lessons Ugly taught him, and me, have stayed with us both.
One ugly little stray cat taught us both more about compassion and love than anything else might have–no matter how many scars and injuries Ugly carried.
We all have our scars, too, even if they’re emotional. What if we followed Ugly’s example and learned to give them up, to move on, let go, and love truly, freely, and deeply? We could learn a great deal from that ugly old cat.
*This content was inspired by an amazing article that can be found here: http://educateinspirechange.org/inspirational/everyone-warned-touch-guy/