Does my cat think about me when I’m not around? An exploration of existence and its physical and metaphorical permanence 


Does my cat think about me when I’m not around? When I depart for school, does she spend the day pondering my return? When I finally snuggle into the warm embrace of nighttime, does she remember that we are merely separated by a single door? 

Existence in itself is a black hole of a topic. The saying “if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, did it make a sound?” is one that many have heard and debated about for seemingly centuries. In regards to our permanence as people, most, I would hope, are aware of the fact that our time on Earth is fleeting; our impact on those around us only spans for a limited amount of time. 

Does my cat think about me when I’m not around? When I move hours away in just a few short months, will she recall my particular smell and the way I always give her extra food when no one is looking? Will she miss my presence? Or will the very fact that I ever existed at all fade away in her small, kittenous brain, diminished to only a vague outline of a girl known long ago?

This question of impact, of the immortality of our actions, is one that is passed from mouth to mouth daily. We seem to be ever so concerned with whether or not people will remember us when we are gone. In school specifically, we wonder if, fours years from graduation, those younger than us will continue to have a picture of the class of 2020 in their minds. In a perfect world, the answer to this soul-grabbing question would be yes. Yes, everyone will think about you after you move on from this place. Yes, everyone will be able to pick out something wonderful that you did or said or were known for. Yes, you will continue to live on spiritually even after you have moved on physically. 

The value of miniscule, “immeasurable” acts of our day is just that: immeasurable.”

Life, however, is not such a perfect world. Can any student in this school recall the class of 2014? When asked to comment on anything that occurred here before the year 2016, can any one of us give a concrete answer? Our impact lives solely within the six classes that we have graced with our eternal presence. Our translucent outlines of people are confined to the box of grades we were born closest with. 

Is it because of this, then, that we strive to look for a measurable kind of importance? An importance hidden in others, stuffed deep inside of their remembrance? Perhaps this is why we must aim to make big waves, so big that they may touch and collide with the land, grass, and rocks on the shore. In reaching so far, we lose all of the little things that remember us. 

Your kindergarten teacher remembers how you always greeted her with a “good morning.” Your grandma thinks about you during the school day, wondering how you’re doing. You continue to wander around in that stranger’s mind who you told looked amazing today. Your toaster will always know just which setting you like the best; your first car will forever hold fingerprints from you. Your cat contains memories and love for you; she remembers the warmth of a spot you just sat in and the way your sheets smell after a day spent soaking in the sun. 

The value of miniscule, “immeasurable” acts of our day is just that: immeasurable. It is because of this that it doesn’t matter if your cat thinks about you when you’re gone; your impact on her, no matter how impermanent in her brain, remains permanent in nature. Even as a thought or a memory is short-lived, the energy of that thought does not vanish from the air. We are making these kinds of impacts every day. It does not matter how long they are remembered for happening, rather the fact that they happened anyway, no matter who does or doesn’t remember them. Yes, your cat thinks about you when you’re not around, but even if she didn’t, she’d still be happy to see you come home anyway.