We don’t have to understand others’ love
The other day I found a box that had lain hidden in a cupboard for many years. It took a second before I realised what it was, but then I remembered.
Without opening it, I could see everything before me – a little bit of plastic string, half a clothespin, a bottletop…everything was blue or glittery. How long ago could it have been? Ten years? Fifteen?
My cat Lukas’ absolute best friend was a magpie. Every day the magpie knocked on the kitchen window with its beak until I let Lukas out. Sometimes they chased each other for fun, other times they had something good to eat together. But often they just sat and philosophised about life. I think that is what they talked about. It is hard to understand what a cat and a magpie would say to each other.
Lukas became very ill one evening and we went to the vet. He didn’t come home. Next morning the magpie rapped on the window as normal. He looked at me questioningly when I opened the door and no cat came running out. I said something with a sympathetic voice and the magpie tilted his head and looked wonderingly at me. After a while he flew away but came back several times. When Lukas never came out, the bird finally dared to enter the kitchen. He crept under the kitchen sofa to make sure Lukas was not there, before we went from room to room together. He wanted to check in all the cupboards, under the bathtub, and behind doors. I tried to explain with gestures and words, but even though he could philosophise about life’s fragility with Lukas, I could not make him understand. We finally ended up back in the kitchen. He looked at me for a long long time and made a complaining sound that I had never heard before, or again. He never knocked on the pane again. A few days later my garden was full of magpies, silent and still on my roof and in my trees.
Just where Lukas and the magpie used to sit lay a blue piece of mosaic, half a clothespin in the same colour, a bottletop, blue pieces of string, and shiny paper. Just garbage, but precious things for magpies, and now a treasure to me. I gathered up everything, put it in a pretty box, and cried over Lukas for the first time.
Others people’s treasures and experiences are scrap that we don’t need to understand. Cats, magpies and people can never really understand each others’ language and culture. We can just accept that it is. Maybe we don’t all need to understand the greatness in teenagers’ rap lyrics, what makes a dance band great, or how our neighbours from other parts of the world can think that what we think is kitschy is so beautiful. But sometimes you don’t need to understand. Sometimes it is as simple as that if someone loves something, it is good.