With all due deference to Grumpy Cat, all that kitty does is just sit there with his pre-existing face frozen in its giant frown. Maru the Cat actually does things. And the things he does are awesome. Plus Maru teaches us all two vital lessons in today’s crazy, hectic world -- how to persist and how to relax.
After all, basically every video of Maru -- which have been viewed over 200,000 million times in aggregate -- features Maru doing some mix of the two. When relaxing, Maru is the kind of pudgy cat with his legs outstretched and his belly curved that makes you want to curl up right next to him and take a nap, too. But when Maru is on the move, he’s not only a model of willful determination but creative insistence -- as if a tech-industry wunderkind were magically turned into a feline and transported to Japan. Because like any entrepreneur or other industrious human being, Maru has seemingly never met a challenge he can’t conquer -- or at least tackle.
Specifically, for Maru, those challenges tend to come in cardboard.
Maru loves boxes and trying to get in them.
There is no box too small.
There is no box too big.
Not to strain the metaphor the way that Maru seems to strain gravity, but we human beings go through life continually daunted by a seemingly-endless gauntlet of boxes big and small. The serious boxes are understandably hard — serious illness, when loved ones die, financial struggles, violence our communities. But I’ve seen grown-ass-people melt down on the sidewalk because they broke the corner of their iPhone case or because 2% wasn’t available for their latte at Starbucks. Suck it up, says Maru. And see those boxes not as obstacles but opportunities.
When life, or an overshot jump, knocks down Maru, does Maru give up. Never! Maru just licks himself and keeps on going.
One could take other lessons from the Maru videos, such as the austerity of the backdrop that might remind us not only how much superfluous crap we have around our houses in the United States but how singularly bad we are at organizing and tidying that crap (or maybe I’m just projecting). But I hope we take from Maru a singular sense of determination and stick-to-it spirit, to not give up in the face of even the most daunting of obstacles, whether those obstacles are economic inequality, eroding public services, a mean boss, institutionalized racism, or cardboard. The world is not perfect. Far from it. And yet we persist and hopefully, in so doing, make the world a bit better -- maybe even more enjoyable for ourselves and others.
Go Maru. Conquer that box. And teach us all how to conquer the world.