It’s almost common knowledge now among neurologists and the general public that we only use ten percent of our brain’s mental acuities at any given time. It’s never been fully or convincingly determined why this might be the case. There was even a movie made along this line of reasoning. If memory serves me it was called “Lucy”.
Certainly being limited to only ten percent of ones mental acuities is a handicap of the worst kind when life depends on how carefully one uses their brain. A resolution to that kind of problem on a planet wide scale would result in a new revolution in knowledge acquisition. A new world would emerge in a very short time.
I know why and I know how to fix it and I fully intend to do just that. But it’s in the knowing why that this story begins. Once I march out the reason for this very real human condition you’re going to be incredulous as to how this could be the case. It’s definitely not something we’re ever likely to have suspected on our own without some help. Having to wrestle with the reason for this condition, with access to only ten percent of your brain to do the wrestling, doesn’t help matters either. It slows us down significantly in making all the correct synaptic connections that are necessary to reaching the most beneficial conclusion.
Modern science and technology, being where they are now, might lead some to think we’re at the top of the food chain, if only that were true. Unfortunately, humanity is in a very similar situation as the cow and the chicken, only what's being harvested about our existence is just the best part of our brain.
Not to worry though, I’ve been exempted from this conditional existence and have returned to set us free. In fact by the time you're halfway through this story your own mind will be working much better than it ever has before. So let’s get this epic journey underway...
I’ve heard it said a man’s life doesn’t really begin in earnest until he’s had his first brush with his own mortality; a mortality check they call it. That moment in time when you stand face to face with your own demise.
I distinctly remember having read that somewhere long before I had mine. Not an easy experience to describe either. The details surrounding such an experience are just the backdrop. The actual emotions this kind of experience elicits can be quite confusing until enough time has elapsed to surrender such emotions to the auctioneers of rationality and logic. As is often the case, by the time you’re sold on a plausible comprehension of the experience itself, you’re well beyond the danger that was bidding on your life.
I don’t know how true it is or if it can be applied to everyone across the board but I can say I was just over forty years old when I came face to face with death. Up until that point I’d had a few brushes with serious injury and walked away from each unharmed. I was very fortunate in every case. That's how I saw it and looked no further. Life had become a rather mundane routine and I had it down to a tee. It still seemed to me there was always a tomorrow. Even in the worst case scenarios the thought of dying never crossed my mind with any kind of immediacy or finality to it. Always a distant possibility shrouded in mystery that I seldom ever gave over to any meaningful consideration.
After all, I reasoned, what do I remember about anything pertaining to my life before I was born? Absolutely nothing. So what am I likely to remember about anything after I die?
After following this out to its logical conclusion I realized that what scared me the most about dying had nothing to do with where I'd go next. It was the manner in which death could arrive that always made me shudder. So I made a rather comprehensive mental list of all the ways I did not wish to expire. All of them loaded with images of horrific pain and suffering. I thought I covered all the basics.
Until one winter evening right at dusk in mid November as I stood, my back against my truck door, both hands in the air with the barrel of a gun shoved against my forehead right between my eyes. And a very cold piece of metal pushing hard against my head it truly was.
At that precise moment, looking in the eyes of a lunatic, whose excuse was my truck keys and wallet, I remain convinced had every intention of pulling that trigger regardless. The fact that I hadn’t complied with any of his demands up to that point in time didn’t help any either.
He came out of nowhere, as I was unlocking my truck to head home, having just left a pawn shop I often frequented looking for deals on tools and computers. The only pawn shop that stayed open till seven PM.
I heard footsteps approaching and started turning around to see who, when I felt something sharp jammed into my ribs and knew immediately it was a gun. That I was in a rough section of town came to mind...a little late.
“Stay put and hand me them keys and wallet”, was all he said.
I finished turning completely around. I don’t know why it took my mind that long to settle on what was happening and I was already moving in that direction anyway so I just completed the move I'd already started without really thinking about it, absentmindedly.
He stepped back with a look of fear in his eyes briefly that coalesced into anger. I raised my hands slowly, my truck keys in my right hand dangling from a keychain. It hadn’t yet dawned on me what I'd done. Now I could identify him.
“You stupid piece of shit. Hand me them keys.” A gray fog drifted skyward following his words, sputtered through his thick mustard yellowed mustache.
He thrust his left hand at me, palm upward. There was some sort of tattoo at the base of his thumb that caught my attention, like he had something in his hand he was trying to give me. I dropped the keys to the ground.
Not intentionally mind you, I was just not thinking clearly. To this day I don’t know why I couldn’t get my head focused on doing exactly what I was told. It was all so surreal. As if my mind was lost in the same fog that followed his words, disappearing into the cold November air. Nothing was making any sense.
Dropping those keys to the ground really set him off. He stepped forward and shoved the gun barrel against my forehead pushing my head back forcefully. I heard a “click-click” as he pulled the hammer back and that’s when the realization struck hard right in my gut,
I’m about to die.
As the terror blossoming in my chest began spreading through my weakening legs, I saw his eyes glance to my left, then back to me...twice. On the third glance they remained focused on what I finally realized he was looking at.
Just before I entered the pawn shop I was approached by an orange colored tabby. An alley cat of medium size with long ears and a long tail strolled right up as I exited my truck and started rubbing against my leg. So I bent over and scratched his head between his ears and he began to purr. I picked him up and stood there holding him while he tried to nestle into my arms and chest. His nestling was persistent and strong. Checking him for a collar and finding none, I looked around to see if anyone was nearby to claim him and take him off my hands, but saw no one. The area was all business on both sides of the road for half a mile in either direction. He was a stray and homeless.
So I opened my truck door and deposited him in the passenger seat, having decided to take him home and keep him. He immediately sat down like he was ready to ride and began licking his front paws. I locked the truck, went in and had only been inside the place for around twenty minutes when I decided to head home.
I noticed he was curled up in the passenger seat but alert and watching me while I was unlocking the truck, just before that gun hit my ribs. Now he was on the drivers side sitting up on his haunches, front paws on the window sill, looking directly in this robbers eyes...just staring at him almost like he knew him, his long tail curled upwards into the shape of a question mark.
The man with the gun against my head, finger on the trigger, was staring back with a haunting distant look in his eyes. They stood like that, staring each other down for about thirty seconds, when the robber suddenly lowered his gun to his side, turned and scurried away without another word, never looking back.
I stood trembling, having now realized that death had just been a muscle twitch away. It took me all of ten seconds before I hurriedly snatched my keys from the ground at my feet, jumped in the truck, locked the doors and sped away. I didn’t even bother to call the police. I went straight home.
On the way home my new feline friend crept up into my lap and purred himself to sleep. I was rubbing his head between his ears, gently. I live about thirty minutes from the city of Columbus, Ohio in a rural section of the county and there was little traffic this time of evening in that direction. I turned the heater on low towards my feet and rolled my window down enough to let a cool breeze blow through the truck.
Drenched in sweat and shivering from the tension this incident produced within me, I didn’t really give much thought to what caused that robber to flee like he did. Still too enthralled with the sense of my own mortality washing over me like a cold soaking rain, chilling me to the soul of my bones. I rolled the window back up. A sudden shift in one’s worldview will do that to you. It wasn’t until after I was home, truck unloaded and my new friend happily fed that I began to play through those last few seconds more carefully in my mind.
Something made that man change his mind about killing me. He had the hammer back and was clearly ready to squeeze the trigger. Of that I am completely certain. But something transpired between him and this cat which saved my life, or so it seemed. I could think of nothing else that made any sense. Beyond that I drew a blank.
It would be awhile before everything became clear and I'd have the answer I needed. Once I discovered what kind of cat I had befriended, or had befriended me.
In fact, just as I'd read, life for me was about to get serious in too many ways I could imagine, thanks to my new friend. He turned out to be the most unusual feline furball any man could ever have the good fortune to cross paths with. I remember my mother use to warn me about a black cat crossing your path behind you. It was seven years of bad luck, she'd say. But this was no black cat. He was orange and placed himself directly in my path.
As shocking as this may sound, this cat could actually talk...and did.