Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Wayfarer

A feline behavior specialist (Cat link) sounded on the radio like a lady out to sell a book. She made a distinction  between dogs being attached to people (owners) while cats are attached to places, presumably due to their different domestication histories. That was news to me.  I knew cats can be quite detached from people. I cared for a few ingrate specimens as a child, and I say "I cared for" instead of "I owned" because no one can own a cat.

Which attachment do I have? Am I closer to cat or dog?

Chance helped me sort that question out by visiting this year three places in three continents where myself or ancestors would have strong attachments. If we were just cats I would feel a pure and primal attachment to the places independent of who lives there now and whether I have any remaining ties with them. If we were dogs I would have an attachment to friends and relatives who inhabited these places but the attachments would have followed their travels and fates and not extend to the place.

The answer was clear, I felt an attachment to people through the places where we or they lived in the past. The answer is also worrisome, I am half dog and half cat. It beats being a werewolf I guess.

The fact that there are no new layers of memories in places we have left means the old layers are still exposed when we go there. Travel can by visiting a place take one back in time and to people, both through memory and through imagination. Tourism however is visiting places devoid of personal memories where one can deliberately avoid the burden of attachment. Tourists are anxious cats by definition.

The sweetest irony is that as a tourist I ran into a description of a Wayfarer. A third nomadic species that is better than dogs and cats,  travelers and tourists. I think I know one, thought it is not me.

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