I remember as a child a couple of kids teasing someone accused of copying in a class test. The what, why, and who is lost to me but I remember the rhyme.
Copy cat Copy cat
You killed the rat
Will tell your mummy to make you fat…
Or so it went.. I stood there thinking. Do cats copy? Can they read? Can they write? Totally oblivious to the cruelty of kids and my first ever witnessing of public shaming. My little head that was always bursting with questions was on a different track. Why ask your mummy to make you fat? Are fat people honest? Don’t you get fat eating loads of yummy food? So should you be rewarded?
Of course today I know better because a fat cat is a term for someone who gets wealthy by dishonest gains.
Years later I was reading nursery rhymes to my kids and came upon this line:
This is the cat, that killed the rat, that ate the malt, that lay in the house that Jack built.
Once again I was off on a memory train that took me to that incident. Now that I was wiser I was more vested in knowing who was that child being teased? Did I dance along to that tune? Was I a silent spectator or worse did I participate? Uncomfortable I brushed aside the memory but the rhyme haunted me.
Once again I was reading a quote from some famous person urging people not to be copies but authentic versions of themselves and I thought. Copy cat who wants to be that? There was that cat reference again. This time I thought let’s blog about it. It’s been a while since I ranted so why not?
So I set about to find all the various cat references in the English language that is still in use. I was amazed by what the cat dragged in. Cat burglars, cats naps, cool cats, scaredy cats, fat cats, hellcats, and by the end of it I was grinning like a Cheshire cat.
I was amazed at how people of old defined a small space as not having enough room to swing a cat. How even the financial markets had a term for the automatic recovery of markets, it’s a dead cat bounce.
This got me thinking about idioms. The purpose of idioms is to bring clarity, in a fun way, to a very common situation. So as a species we apparently go through the same situations throughout centuries. In fact even the thoughts we think, Canadian researchers have pegged it at 6200 individual thought worms per day, are mostly the same every day.
So as a species that loves routine and has a tendency to repeat, and imitate, we sure are obsessed with being different. We hate to turn up to a party dressed in the same outfit as someone else which was copied from the look on the mannequin or magazine. Our need to conform, to be accepted, overrides our desire to stand out.
Everything we do is a sorry imitation. We imitate nature in our paintings, we try to capture emotions in our writings, we try to sing like the birds, dance like the wind, and yet we shame each other for being copycats.
I think it’s time we get real about life, ourselves, and our creativity. We cannot truly create something new, all we can do is pulverize all that we have seen, heard, experienced, and rehash it in a way that hasn’t been done before, yet. Afterall all the words of a novel, written and not yet, are already in the dictionary.
However we must try to see the world anew for it is in the shifting of our perspective, the stepping out of our comfort zone, relinquishing the safety of conformity, will we truly experience life. It is the journey of self-discovery that is the focal point.
So yes don’t be a copycat because your mummy should not have to make you fat. Nobody should have to do anything to you or for you. Choice, free will, these matter. That’s a rant for another day.