Having four cats in this household means that there are pretty much constant hijinks and entertainment. Boo, the black furball pictured above is the most curious and intent of them all. Once she has her mind set on something it is very difficult to distract her. The other night our big male was just walking around keeping an eye on me (he has the loyalty of a dog). He came around the corner towards the kitchen and I saw her pounce right behind him. I thought maybe she had a bug or something. Then as he walked a couple more steps, she did it again. By the third or fourth time, I finally figured out what was going on. She was chasing the shadow of his tail! He was completely oblivious, and she was entertained. The first thing I thought of was “Peter Pan.” But then, I wondered when she would get bored with the futility of it. On the one hand, she’s smart. On the other hand, once she’s fixated on something there is no redirecting her. As he left the kitchen, she was still intent on chasing his shadow. But the thing is, we do it too. We chase shadows with the same fixation and the same futility. For some, it’s the chase of a dream of happiness. The right girl or guy, the right car, the right job, whatever it is, shortly after we have it the novelty wears off and it doesn’t make us happy anymore. For others, it’s based on fear and worry. An all too common theme is anxiety or depression based on worry. The underlying cause always comes back to our thought lives. Now, I’m not talking about trauma or grief here, I’m talking about normal everyday anxiety and depression. We all have complex lives with several irons in the fire. Some have more than others, but few people live a truly simple life. What happens is that I’m thinking about being late on the rent while I’m at work or expecting my wife to be angry while I’m driving home. Some of the problems are real (the rent), while others may not be (my wife being mad). But while I’m at work, I can’t do anything about the rent. And during my drive home, I can’t do anything about how my wife is going to feel. So, we’re chasing shadows. We’re investing valuable mental, emotional, and physical energy in things that we can’t affect at the moment. I have an illustration that I use. When you open your front door, there is going to be a bear standing there ready to claw your face off. Your brain sends a signal out to hormone centers like your adrenal gland. Every system kicks into high gear so that your muscles have the energy to punch the bear in the nose (fight) or run away (flight). But sitting there on your couch worrying about the bear does nothing productive. But, what does happen is that your body is having a miniature fight or flight reaction based on the worry in your mind. This is where panic attacks and heartburn come from among others. So, go on Amazon and buy some bear spray or mount a shotgun over your door. Then you have done everything you can and you are done preparing. The only times we should be focused on a problem is when we are confronting it or preparing/planning to confront it. We find a message in Ecclesiastes that speaks to the solution several times. To abbreviate just one: Eat, drink, and enjoy the work that God has given you. In other words, instead of chasing shadows, learn to be fully present in life and find joy in every moment you can.

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