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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. May's Theme: "Appreciation"
Volume 5 Issue 4 ISSN# 1708-3265
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Transformed by Divo
by Alegria Imperial

Divo gazes at me, his marble-eyes translucent as still water with no obvious thought in them. I am scooping teaspoons of his tuna meal from a can, crooning, "Wait, Divo. Good boy." When I scrape bits of the meal stuck in the can, he knows I'm about ready to bring his plate to his feeding corner. It is then when he leaps onto the kitchen ledge, creeps close to my right shoulder intimately as if he would give me a kiss or whisper to me. I feel both though he expertly leaves a space where my heart expands. We repeat the ritual in the morning for his breakfast. We have both grown with it—he, into a sleek 12-pound tabby, I, into a cat-lover, a commitment undeterred by shifting seasons, moods, and the lure of a lake spa.

If Divo were human, his gesture would most likely be a crisp, 'thanks' the first time that is. He would take later feedings for granted as if it was his right and I am obliged to give it. I could shore up my withering self-esteem from an increasing drought by invoking the well of unconditional commitment. I may even perhaps rise in spirit and feed him like I would a heavenly master. Still deep in that chamber between beats of my agonist and antagonist, I know I would long for something more.

Word books pair 'gratitude' and 'appreciation' as twins. I have never really thought about their difference until after months of feeding Divo. His never-without-thanks gesture—giving back to me what I give him—has heaped value on my task of feeding him. This thought then emerged: Gratitude may end with an act; appreciation begets a chain of acts which could lead to transformation.

I was not aware this idea had changed me like an invisible dye until Juliet threw up her hands one day in disgust with what she thought an absurd excuse for turning down a few dinner invitations because I couldn't pass up a not-quite-kiss. But she calmed down counting the tasks I have taken on in our jobs—as part of who Divo has turned me into is as committed at work, valuing what is given by doing more. My constancy, simplicity and perhaps now, devotion to my duty because of his appreciation, have turned priceless. I am transformed.

When an editor thanks me for a piece I submit, I thank her instead—as I have with Aleesha many times now. For me it is no mere bouncing of the word "thanks". I once wrote Susan, another editor, as that which is given—the opportunity to write—if appreciated is enlarged in meaning and significance. I said in that email, as I did to Aleesha in much the same words, "my writing is blooming because of the value you've been giving it."

That exchange with Susan called to mind how an editor of a small daily in Manila wrote me back when I thanked him for putting an interview I wrote in the front page, boxed it for prominence, and even added on a cartoon that resonated with my subject. "Your letter brought on smiles in the 'boiler room', and not steam but cool rain drenches us. You turned a regular assignment into a celebration," he said. But it was I not the 'boiler guys' who doubled in my puny height because of how they treated my piece.

I walk lightly yet I feel full these days. I tend to smile easily as well. Yet, when I travel, worry over who would feed Divo weighs on my baggage. It is needless really. Gary who takes my place even brings in his kids who walk Divo in the courtyard, scattering laughter which rises like balloons to the corridors where doors of our suites are lined. Chances are Marie who hears them would reach for her Irish wool cardigan, limp to the corridor, and from the railing catch those candied squeals Divo brings on. Imagining the scene enlarging from bundles of wordless appreciation tossed back and forth, I then would snuggle in my plane seat and let sleep steal in.

A seeker of truth and peace after tangled pathways, I have also found a voice in my search. A retired journalist, I have since focused on poetry and fiction. I launched my first book in Manila before migrating to Vancouver last year and recently received two honourable mentions for poetry.

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