A lesson from Toonces the driving cat

A few years ago, Sheila and I were at an art gallery opening (I was watching baseball on my phone) when we saw a friend of hers who had lost a lot of weight. People were commenting on her new appearance and asking her what she was doing to lose the weight. 

“Tell me me everything you’re doing,” one person said.

Her answer?

Chemotherapy. 

……….

Sheila’s friend spent a lot of time fielding similar questions before she ultimately succumbed to ovarian cancer. 

About the only thing I remember from high school chemistry is the teacher writing the word “assume” on the board before following it with the phrase “assume means making an ass out of u and me.” Last week I posted a video of Toonces the driving cat in our private Facebook group. The famous line from the SNL skit is Steve Martin saying “once I realized he could drive, I just assumed he was a good driver.” (Toonces crashes in every episode.)

Cue ridiculousness head shaking.

We make assumptions every day. And nowhere is that more apparent than when it comes to someone’s appearance. I read a similar story of a personal trainer who was judging another trainer at his gym because the other trainer didn’t look fit. That coach was also going through chemotherapy. 

Our society is obsessed with losing weight. Obsessed.

Stories like those above reflect just how obsessive our culture can be. In both cases, those people were judged - one was deemed more successful for her weight loss while the trainer was judged as being lazy for weighing more. 

Skinny = happy. Overweight = lazy. 

No. 

No. Just, no. 

There is merit to losing weight, as the process can be empowering and go a long way in promoting health and healthy habits. But making assumptions like the ones above only fuels the cultural obsession. 

We can change that

Last week, on the way to our conference, Coach Jeremy was asking for book recommendations. Doug rattled off a few, before I mentioned my favorite book. 

“Tattoos on the Heart,” I said. 

“What is it that you like so much about that book?” Doug asked, having only recently finished the copy I gave him.

I thought about it. 

The book, if you’re unfamiliar, is the story of Father Gregory Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries in L.A., the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. The subtitle of the book is “The power of boundless compassion.”

Boundless compassion. (Future blog post on this coming up.)

I love the book because it’s the story of one person who is changing the world - the world - through boundless compassion.

Here’s my point. 

We can help to change that cultural obsession with weight. And that’s why you’re going to start hearing and reading a lot more about NSV’s. 

Non-scale victories. 

Tell us what you can do.

Tell us what you’ve gained.

Tell us the happy little moments you’ve experienced as you’ve gotten on the workout wagon. Tell stories of who you are and the scars you've earned the struggles you've used to make you the person you are today. Tell us triumphs about you the person, not you the number. 

Tell us about experiences. Ask others about experience. Ask others how they feel. 

That’s a big part of our mission right now. 

Don't assume that just because Toonces can drive, it means he drives well.