Live Love

Daniel Caron, MS, CAGS

Sometimes life's gifts show up at our doors disguised as burdens. This was my experience on October 15 while driving back from facilitating a workshop in southern West Virginia. I was scheduled to facilitate another day long workshop in Columbus the following morning and needed to make the four hour drive to Columbus, stay overnight and be ready for a 9:00 AM start.

The drive seemed to take forever on the rainy, fall day so I frequently stopped to stretch, get something to drink and do anything to ward off the unrelenting fatigue. Arriving at the motel at 10:00 PM I could not wait to climb between the warm sheets and fall asleep. That plan was just not in the cards for me.

Carrying my bag to the room I heard crying sounds coming from behind the parking lot at the chain link fence. Investigating the sound took me to the edge of the parking lot where I discovered a gray, tiger-striped kitten stuck in the fence up to its shoulders. He was unable to move forward or backward to free himself from his chain link prison. Soaking wet and covered with mud, the kitten's cries seemed to fade with my approach.

A quick walk to the motel's office and I was standing ready with wire cutters and the help of the manager. After cutting the fence and freeing the kitten I turned toward my room feeling my work was finally done for the day. The kitten had other ideas and ran between my legs, tripping me, as I walked to my room. I turned to the motel manager with a look begging for more assistance. He smiled, shrugged his shoulders and said "There's always the Humane Society." "Fat chance on a Friday night at this hour" I thought. There were no houses anywhere in the area and the motel was just yards from the highway.

The kitten purred like a noisy fan when I picked him up and took him into my room. Setting him down I then called my wife, Stacy, who laughed as I related the events of my restful, Friday evening. "I'm tired and I have an all day program tomorrow. I really don't need this right now." I told her. "Apparently he needs you more than you need him." Stacy responded. That sentiment took me by surprise. We both love animals but our home is tiny and we already have four cats. We did not need one more.

Hanging up the phone and shutting the kitten in the bathroom I left the room and headed for the nearest 24-hour department store. An hour later I walked back into the motel room with a pet carrier, cat food, litter-box, litter and food dish in tow. That night I had little rest with the kitten bouncing around the bed.

Saturday morning the workshop host found me a quiet room for the kitten's carrier. The workshop was successful despite my zombie-like demeanor. Several of the participants spent their breaks keeping the kitten company. For the entire two-hour drive home from the workshop, the kitten sat in my lap, gently pawing my face whenever he woke from his catnaps.

In my workshops on relationship development I remind participants that the way I touch the world (what I call, Original Play) is not about meeting my needs or doing "my thing." Instead this connection is always about meeting the needs of the other being first. Sometimes I need to be reminded that life is more than just talking the talk. True learning comes in the practice of walking the walk. I wonder what made the little kitten's path cross mine that night to remind me of this important lesson.

Once home Stacy and I introduced the new kitten, now named Trapper, to the other four cats in our home. There was a lot of hissing and snarling whenever Trapper approached any of the other cats. Fortunately he was too young to be deterred from making new friends and kept at it until all of the cats accepted him as family.

Fifteen days later on election night I stayed up to watch the results of the Presidential race. I do not typically follow political contests. Given the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the slow economy and staggering national deficit, my concerns for new and peaceful leadership kept me glued to the television until 1:00 AM election morning, when things appeared as if they would not be changing.

Feeling disheartened by the election and a little frustrated I discouragingly wondered how our nation would find its way out of so many messes. Walking to bed I glanced over to the rocking chair to discover Trapper lying across the seat asleep and in a comfortable embrace with Alley, one of the other cats asleep on top of him. "What do they know that I am missing?" I wondered. Then I noticed the pillow behind both cats that read 'LIVE LOVE.' I smiled, walked into the bedroom, crawled into bed and fell fast asleep.

Daniel Caron is a workshop facilitator and speaker who left a long career in Higher Education after 9-11 to help people, businesses and organizations develop kind and safe relationships with each other and the world. Daniel and his wife Stacy live on a farm in West Virginia and care for nine horses, fifty chickens, two roosters, five cats and a dog. He can be reached at

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