Wisdom From a Cat

I live in a house with optional cats. Whenever I want company, I call them to hang out with me. And whenever they want to be with me, they meow pitifully from behind the door. Last night, they called to me as I was settling into my green chair with the book “the wisdom of no escape and the path of lovingkindness” by Pema Chödrön and a hot cup of tea next to the lit-up Christmas tree with my Pandora U2 Christmas Station playing softly in the background. A warm fleece blanket – a gift from my mom – was tightly packed around my torso and legs because, despite the mild temperatures, the Pacific Northwest is a unique kind of winter chill that settles deep into your bones.

In just a few weeks I start Chiropractic school and, practically in the same breath, I am to welcome my soldier home from Iraq. So this solitude and serenity have an expiration date and I want to fully appreciate and be present for them.

And then I heard the plaintive cry from behind the door. As I thought about it, a couple of snuggly cats in my lap fit very well into my fantasy of a perfect Zen-Holiday evening.

And so I let them come downstairs to be with me. Apparently, their idea of a Zen-Holiday evening was much different from mine.

Houdini is a graceful, grey bundle of nerves who spooks at the slightest noise. Every once in a while she will be in a playful mood and pounce on every moving thing. This was her mood last night: her playfulness was larger than her scardicatness.

At first I was annoyed at her: I was, after all, trying to fully experience my last few weeks of freedom and spaciousness (in my less peaceful-yogi moments I would describe this as boredom and a small social circle) and limited responsibility (or laziness) before my life experience does an about-turn and changes drastically.

As she playfully pawed at the toy near my feet and looked up at me shyly, I felt a pang of guilt. Here I was, reading a passage on observing the resistance that [inevitably] shows up in life… and I was actively resisting playing with a cat!

So the reality of my Zen-Holiday evening taught me more than my fantasy Zen-Holiday evening ever could. Houdini played without expectation/attachment/resistance. Only hope. She was wise teacher for me last night.

Pema gives instruction on saying yes to whatever shows up for us on our meditation cushions, on our yoga mats, and in our daily lives. Have a fantasy, and then let it go. Reality will always give us more than we bargain for, if we’re willing to show up for it.