Food and Travel

Learn From Derek: Guard Yourself. Protect Your Peace.

How do you spell Derek? Fat. Fluffy. Well-fed orange fur ball. Approximately 4 years of age. Check on Facebook and he’s also a heartthrob because it is undoubtedly very easy to fall in love with this handsome boy. A love at first sight. A gallery of his pictures will surely melt your heart. I can certainly tell that Derek is quite an expert on living a happy, contented life. Thanks to his mom, Sveta! But there’s more to this furry friend’s cute gestures – a story to tell.

Derek is a lot of things, and this post is all about a life lesson he taught me just by listening to his mom’s stories. It’s quite funny that just by observing our surroundings, the little things, the people, even our furry friends, we can get a little inspiration. A motivation. A lesson.

The next time you need something to reflect, look no further than your feline companion.

Disclaimer: What is written in this post is my own perspective, and may differ from yours.

A Glimpse of a Gruesome Past

Derek caught me with his charm over the internet. I am a fan of this boy on Facebook and was always eager to meet him. I didn’t know his story at that point in time. If you don’t know Derek, you might be shocked for the first time you see him face to face. He has these bald spots at his side which seem like thinning fur. But, he’s not actually losing hair. He had a burnt skin some time ago due when a two- legged monster doused him with boiling water. Some parts no longer grow fur because of severe skin injury. Abused. Yes – it’s the best word to describe his previous state. Back in 2018, Derek was rescued by Sveta with the help of Island Rescue Organization. And in that particular moment, Derek graduated from his awful past.

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On my recent trip to Sveta’s house, I finally met Derek for the first time. I lifted the heavy boy and squeezed him with hugs which he didn’t seem to like at all (haha). So, I let him go and ran my hands from his head to the end of his short, orange tail. He looked at me and gave a dismissive wave. He continued to groom himself and went his way to the other cats. Despite his traumatic past, Derek never lost his trust in humans. His gentle demeanor blends very well with his strong personality. According to his mom, Derek is a sweet, lap cat who loves cuddles.

Derek is all these things. But here is one thing – he doesn’t get along very well with newcomers!

NO to newcomers!

Cats can be territorial. That’s how Derek is behaving when newcomers arrive. In this world of rescue, you can never tell yourself to stop letting new ones in. How can you turn down an animal that badly needs immediate care? You can’t just do that – if you have the heart, you can never let these creatures down. So, to cut the long story short, Sveta has observed that Derek doesn’t get along very well with them – especially with the recent ones: Chickee the dog and Dante the cat with a broken jaw.

Derek sees to it that they are not comfortable in the place. Of course, we don’t want cats fighting but this is inevitable. This behavior can present a number of reasons. Perhaps, because of his gruesome past or his strong personality. We never really know because they can never talk. Derek can tolerate the resident cats, but not the newcomers. He may have viewed them as intruders.

Okay. So, what about this?

This is how we can relate Derek with some of us. In fact, if we come to think of it, cats are more like us. I may not be able to explain the reason behind Derek’s behavior, but I can always do with mine. Simply because we, humans, the highest form of animal, are rational beings, and with this brain, we are able to think and analyze our own behavior.

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Friends – How many of us have them?

And by this question, what I mean is the friends whom you can genuinely rely on. I have noticed among the people, especially in my circle, that we no longer have that ginormous group as it used to be back in high school or college. I already let go of that youthful self who tried to gather as many friends as possible as I realized that I don’t actually need a herd of friends backing me now to prove that I am worthy.

I mean, who is really counting? As we mature in life, we realize that the ones who are true and meant to stick will always be there, regardless the years and distance. They will never fade out.

Does wisdom always come with age?

When I started a new job last year, this realization hit me the most. But I just shrugged off my shoulders and went along. I am only able to intentionally touch this part of the story when I tried to make a parallelism between Derek’s behavior and mine, and I know that I should be talking about this to arrive at a resolution.

Back to me being in a new environment, I found myself eager to learn, full of energy and full of life. However, as I open myself and air my views on things around me, I received the feedbacks of being judgmental, strict, and perfectionist. I remember me counter-slashing that “judgmental” comment with just “being observant”. Perfectionist? Okay. I wholeheartedly accept this because I am (haha). I hate seeing people wasting their potentials, and say as well that I am strict, but is it because I have better ideas?

In this environment, it’s inevitable to be in disagreement with people much older than I am. And I pat myself in the back. Cha, wisdom is knowledge through experience, not age. I wholeheartedly accept constructive criticisms and I admire people who hold so much wisdom in them. You will know it when you hear their words. One only become wise with the depth and breadth of experience over time. Sadly, not all people who age take ‘learning from experience’ seriously. So, forget about the age.

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There is always an exception.

Looking back at that particular moment, I remember the people who have been with me since the early years, and are still there. If I aired the same views around them, their responses would have been completely different. Perhaps, because they knew where the opinions are coming from, and they can give me good and not that ‘surface-level’ conversation. In the end, I don’t like shallow talks (haha).

Don’t get me wrong. I love having new friends, but I don’t think there are more people where I can reach the point of opening up and sharing more vulnerabilities and my true self. And if I do, I’ll be grateful. Right now, the best definition of ‘going out’ for me is being with someone who is also dying for a quiet cup of coffee while chatting about life, or go on an adventure and reach the mountain top and enjoy the complete silence of nature, or just by doing the same passion and interests – ehem, eating. And if I meet these people, I can always make an exception.

what derek teaches me

Right now, I’m contented with my circle, and I love my life.

Just like Derek, I keep my peace.

Credits: Images by Sveta Belskaya via Facebook

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