Zelda and some things I have learned

Daniel Klepp '20, Section Manager

While pulling into a pothole-ridden Arby’s on a slushy November Sunday, the last thing I expected was for me to learn more about myself. I didn’t realize that getting a kitten would result in an emotional metamorphosis. Especially as someone who had lived with cats for 14 years, who really would?
When I held that grapefruit-sized kitten for the first time, any sort of expectation I had immediately melted away. I felt as though I had attained a certain tranquility only achievable through the presence of a delightful little comrade. The kitten’s name was decided as Zelda.
Since our meeting, I’ve spent the last six months bonding with Zelda and have seen first-hand the shenanigans of a cat too spoiled for her own good. In the beginning, I tried to do all I could to brandish my maternal instincts to gain her favor. Once she could handle the house without supervision, I took to cat-watching. After watching her pick fights with our dog, yell at lights and be a general nuisance for so long, it’s hard not to start loving every moment of it.
To show my appreciation for Zelda and her inadvertent teachings, I’m going to use this opportunity to patch together scraps of observations and life lessons I’ve been able to acquire in my short time so far with Zelda the cat.
Cats are not dogs. Despite this being absurdly obvious, it is something many don’t think about during the average cat interaction. Indeed, both are fluffy, domesticated quadrupeds, but behaviorally, they couldn’t be more different. I think a lot of people consider themselves “dog people” because they expect cat ownership to evoke the same emotions as dog ownership.
Speaking broadly: don’t expect someone to be something they’re not. For the same reason that expecting a cat to shower you with constant attention would likely create an unhealthy relationship, creating expectations for people in your lives, especially expectations that are self-serving, often end in disappointment, and overall, an unhealthy relationship.
Bruce Lee said it well– “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you’re not here to live up to mine.”
Life gets better when you find something to care about unconditionally. Much of my time during high school was spent doing things for tangible purposes. Much of the “value” of potential classes or extracurriculars I was interested in was based on how’d they “look”. I sought out these opportunities not for personal fulfillment, improvement, or enjoyment, but on the shallow expectation that things that “looked nice” would propel me to a higher standing.
Zelda, on the other hand, would not have helped me get into college. She has been a meowing reminder that fulfillment can be attained without purpose in mind. I can invest myself as much as I want into her life and wellbeing without the worry of how it could affect me in the future. An outlet to be oneself without consequence has been extremely liberating.
My parting advice to future staffers and students is to find your Zelda in life. Find an activity, pet or simply anything unique that you can pour yourself into without expectation of anything in return. Find the comfort of doing something you enjoy for the sole reason that you enjoy it.
My Tower experience was one I could have never expected, but one I do not regret. What I expected was something that would look nice on college applications and knock out a few English credits. As it turns out, I gained a camaraderie shared over unique experiences certainly unbeknownst to those who have never witnessed the chaos of the newsroom. It would be impossible to tally all the experiences that are only known within the confines of room 142. I thank JJ, Liz, Alyssa, Anne, Imran and Edge for their outstanding patience and guidance throughout the years.