When you are willing to follow the wrong star home

Posted on May 10, 2013

In 2007, I felt my time in Portland was complete. I planned two trips to places I felt called to — Grass Valley, CA and Maine — to investigate relocation. In Grass Valley, I met a woman who modeled for me something I needed to understand about love. And in Maine, I walked into a house I’ve been dreaming about my entire life.

I set off on these journeys thinking I needed to move. But what I actually needed was to meet that woman and enter that house. The impulse to move brought movement to my life that in the end did not require taking permanent leave.

It just occurred to me that something similar happened to me with Sadie, the cat I loved and fed but did not know. I felt such a powerful connection to this cat because she called me back to something powerful in myself. At the time, it seemed that I was being called to find more expansive ways to be of service to animals. And while that truth remains, Sadie had much more to teach me than that.

After a year of feeding Sadie in my ex-husband’s parking lot, our family orbit changed. I was no longer driving to and from that apartment building twice a day, and in my no-margin life, could not figure out how I’d continue driving across town to care for this cat. So I did what any exhausted single mother of one four-year-old, three cats and a dog would do–I brought Sadie home.

My practice of coaxing Sadie to safety now continues from her private suite in the building behind my house–from where I hope to someday integrate her into our household. Twice every day, I reassure her, sing to her, feed her, leave trails of treats, scoop her litter and try to help this terrified, abandoned cat remember what safety is, what trust is, to feel the possibility that there is a place (this place) where she can sink into receiving. Invite her to return to the ease of being a cat who is secure in her place in this world.

It became obvious to me pretty quickly that Sadie and I had some similar issues. And that returning to trust was going to be a trail of treats that we we’d be traveling awkwardly together.

The day it seemed clear that Sadie was secure and centered enough in her space to start traveling into the yard without getting too terrified or disoriented to return, I started calling around to find someone to cut a cat door into the side of the building. The man who arrived at my front door the next day seemed to be already wired right into my central nervous system. I became electric as he crossed the threshold. Every receptor I had stretched in his direction for a scent, a word, the sound of his voice, the private world of his eyes.

Three years beyond believing I might possibly appreciate or desire the company of a man again, I woke out of my slumber. And it was my love and care of Sadie that somehow broke the spell and brought this man to my door.

So, while I haven’t started an animal sanctuary or veterinary foundation (yet) or found other ways to follow the song of my soul that Sadie stirred in me, I trusted this north star to lead me deeper into who I am. As this courageous cat pushed the door of my heart open, my own return to vulnerability became more possible. Somehow, because I was willing to pay attention to one terrified and alone cat, I am relearning the wilderness of my heart.

When we let ourselves be led, there is alchemy. When we allow ourselves to receive, there is healing. When we allow ourselves to give, we travel deeper into the truth of who we are. And when we follow the signs and end up somewhere completely different than we ever imagined, that’s when life really starts to get interesting.

How have you followed the song of your soul into uncharted territory, and what are you learning as you go?



  1. friday roundup: composting, to follow the wrong star, and Monet refuses | the stanza
    May 10th, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

    [...] follow the wrong star  Speaking of which, you simply must go read this post by Sage Cohen, who writes today about being willing to follow the wrong star. This is a heartening story about following one’s intuition, without having rational reasons [...]

  2. Christi Krug
    May 10th, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

    Beautiful. You *do* know what kind of person you are (as the Stafford poem says) so cannot get lost.

    Love how you said, “returning to trust was going to be a trail of treats that we we’d be traveling awkwardly together.” Here, kitty! Here, kitty!

  3. Sage Cohen
    May 10th, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

    Oh, Christi, Where would I be without you? Thank you for your faith in me. It is such a powerful gift!

  4. steve arndt
    May 10th, 2013 @ 11:32 pm

    sage and christi and william stafford. thunk, thunk and thunk, arrows in my chest. writers have to have a relationship with ‘not knowing.’ but sage, christi, i feel like i hear from you an insistence, an allegiance, or better yet a faith in the unknown. love this. to paraphrase stafford, ‘to be in the realm where miracles happen i must be willingly fallible and susceptible.’ thank you both, steve

  5. Sage Cohen
    May 11th, 2013 @ 2:24 am

    An allegiance to, a faith in the unknown. Yes, Steve, and this is the place I choose to stand. Because the unknown makes me as nutty as the next person. I have to keep reminding myself of where to stand, what I believe, how to stay open. It is a practice, and more often than not, I fail…

  6. Jill
    May 11th, 2013 @ 7:44 pm

    I love this piece!! So glad I just discovered it! I hope to read more of your work!

    ” …in my no-margin life, could not figure out how I’d continue driving across town to care for this cat. So I did what any exhausted single mother of one four-year-old, three cats and a dog would do–I brought Sadie home.”

    Love this! JB

  7. Esmé MOREIRA
    May 12th, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

    Sage, you write the way I would like to, briefly yet pungent with meaning in your words. I like the way you weave the real, intuition and spiritual in a way which is not intrusive and yet fascinating. Thank you for that piece. As an aénimal lover I appreciate you wove the cat’s behaviour and yours into a real story with a moral.

    More, more please

  8. Sage Cohen
    May 13th, 2013 @ 9:00 pm

    Thanks so much, Esme! I really appreciate your feedback.

  9. Sage Cohen
    May 14th, 2013 @ 7:18 am

    Thanks for visiting, Jill! I appreciate you being here and your lovely feedback.

  10. Valerie Willman
    July 25th, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

    Beautiful post, Sage.

  11. Sage Cohen
    July 25th, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

    Thanks so much, Valerie!

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