An Observation Today
Last week: Gratitude (and my cat Shumba).
This week: Your comments. I love them. I’m grateful to hear from you.
Here’s how Shumba is doing.
We sit in bed together. Shumba’s left ear and back of his head are apricot from the light beaming through the blinds. All is quiet, except for a small airplane and faint sound of cars on 476, the moving weeping cherry tree limbs out side my bedroom window.
He makes a high contented sighing, singsong exhale, tucking his head into his paws.
Everything in the bedroom is still and quiet. How much longer will he live?
I reach for Awareness by Anthony De Mello, one of my favorite spiritual teachers, on my bedside table and serendipitously read,
“…If you really enjoy life and the simple pleasures of the senses, you’d be amazed. You’d develop that extraordinary discipline of the animal. An animal will never overeat. Left in its natural habitat, it will never be overweight. It will never drink or eat anything that is not good for its health. You never find an animal smoking. It always exercises as much as it needs – watch your cat after it’s had its breakfast, look how it relaxes. And see how it springs into action, look at the suppleness of its limbs and the aliveness of its body. We’ve lost that. We’re lost in our minds, in our ideas and ideals and so on, and it’s always go, go, go. And we’ve got an inner self-conflict, which animals don’t have. And we’re always condemning ourselves and making ourselves feel guilty. You know what I’m talking about…”
Yes, I do. I put the book down. Even to sit in bed and appreciate Shumba curled up with me, I feel guilt. Being is hard for me. I feel pressure to REALLY APPRECIATE HIM!
Okay, for one breath, I tell myself, How about you stop feeling like you need to do something, or appreciate something more and just stop all concepts of “getting somewhere” or “getting the most joy out of this time we have left together”.
It’s not going to work out, so stop missing him even before he’s gone.
Stop feeling guilty if you don’t love him up every second of the day. Stop the guilt of “living to the fullest”.
I stared at Shumba’s distended stomach as he breathed in and out. He’s slowly filling up with fluid. Something about his cancer or aging is blocking his ability to drain fluid. The vet gave me medication to give him that may help him pee more, that’s all he can do.
I put my ear on his belly to see if I could hear the fluid. All I heard was his heart beating a soft slow pat-pat-pat. The fluid is going to drown him, block his heart?
He’s purring. He still eats. He still wants to hang out and socialize and talk to me.
He never mirrors my disappointment or frustration of losing him.I’ve known him for 15 years and he’s never once looked guilty, even when I caught him eating a nest of baby mice the size of Gummy Bears, he looked at me like, What? Oh, these things? Oh, they’re delicious. Here, have one, while they last.
Similar to the way I eat chips and guacamole.
He’s never been guilty a day in his life. He doesn’t know guilt or shame or anything other than the enjoyment of being completely okay with how he is and his nature.
Is that possible for humans? They say when missionaries when to the South Pacific, that native Polynesian women came to church with out shirts, bare chests and all. The missionaries gave the women shirts to cover up. So the next week they came with two big holes cut in the t-shirt, with their breast hanging out for ventilation.
The only things he really hates is when they stick the thermometer in his butt at the vet, the vacuum cleaner, or when I step on him by accident, when he walks under, literally, under my feet when I walk down stairs, each morning to feed him. I hate medical shots, Police sirens and when people step on me too.
I put my arms around him and pressed my face into him and hug him like a new born.
If you’ve ever loved a cat it’s like a hairy small church that doesn’t smell, (except his feet smell like buttered popcorn) with out dogma. He give off the innocents of restored promise.
I think it’s because he is innocent. He doesn’t know any of the human stuff: success, winning, blaming, judging.
Shumba has a peaceful silence. He lies in the sun on the bed breathing with his eyes closed.
One night about 6 years ago, he sat in the windowsill of the garage apartment we lived in, facing out the French windows. His perfect black silhouette, stared out into the night sky, of periwinkle blue, the stars and an oak tree view lit by the moon and fresh fallen snow.
He observes and framed for me a moment of being.
If he was a writer, I imagine his memoir would be called, I Watched The World, Hung Out, And Enjoyed Myself.
He’s okay. He’s content. He has nothing to hold on to, nothing to compare “it” to.
People often say to me, “I can’t meditate. I can’t stop my mind.” When I ask a few more questions I often learn they are trying to not hate their in-laws, their body, and want a panacea, poof-be-gone fix.
That’s not meditation. Meditation is not about ‘stopping’ anything. Just the opposite, it’s about the ability to be with everything as it is.
Like Shumba, he “be’s” in peace with him self in every moment.