A Man and His Cat

The other day I was in downtown Santa Rosa for a meeting. Walking down the street, I see this homeless guy sitting on the sidewalk with his backpack and a cat. The cat was about the size of Pistol, my five-monthold McNab Shepherd. This cat acted like a dog, too. I said, “That’s a pretty cool cat, kind of like a dog.”

 “Yep.” He tossed what looked like a ball made of old string and the cat fetched it.

“I got him in New York,” he told me. “There were five homeless kittens, living in a barn, and I took the one I thought might be the best companion. We traveled all summer across the United States.”

“It’s curious to me,” I said, “because I see people sitting here every day, a lot of them trying to panhandle off people. But you seem different.”

He said, “I just want to see the world.  Just me, my best friend and my backpack.” He was dirty from sleeping on the side of the road. They were both dirty.

“Man, that’s got to be tough,” I said. “How do you support yourself?”

He told me that he picks up little odd jobs along the way. “Do you have any work? I’m headed over to the coast where I have a few days worth of work and will travel north from there.”

I’m not sure why, but I reached into my pocket and pulled out a bill. “Here’s a hundred bucks to help you in your travels.” 

He looked shocked. “You don’t really want to give me a hundred dollars, do you?”

“Frankly,” I said, “I wish I could do what you’re doing! But I have a whole bunch of people that I’m responsible for. Take the money.”

Just then his cat jumped up on his shoulders- I swear he was hugging him.

I had to smile. I told him, “Now, your karma is going to be determined by how you spend that money. I don’t know you. I don’t know what you do. But spend it in the right places and it’ll keep coming. Not necessarily for free, but it will keep coming.”

When I was a young man on the Ranch I used to reach out and try to help a lot of the workers my dad brought in from all over the world. Some would listen, make some changes to improve, and thank me for the help. Some would keep making the same old mistakes. It used to really frustrate me.

My Dad always said, “Son, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Just keep doing what makes you feel good in your heart.”

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