May 28 2009
Eckhart Tolle has said that he’s known three Zen masters in his life and all of them were cats. My Zen master, Zeena, is teaching me valuable life lessons. One of the most important things I’m learning is to Be simple and to Simply be, to feel my feet on the ground and be fully present.
Buddha said, “Be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life.” It’s easy to go unconscious and sleepwalk through our life, therefore, it’s important to have reminders that wake us up. In the novel “Island”, by Aldous Huxley, the mynah birds on the island are taught to say “Attention, Here and Now, Here and Now.” Zeena does this for me; sometimes I’ll be lost in watching some TV show and Zeena will jump on my lap and say, “Neow Neow Neow.”
She’s teaching me that Now is all there is. Whether you’re chasing a mouse or chasing a dream, be fully present with it. It doesn’t matter what your dream is and it doesn’t matter what you do; all that really matters is that you be fully where you are while you’re doing it. A cat isn’t concerned about yesterday or tomorrow. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, right now is a gift, that’s why they call it the present. I invite all of us to open our present like a cat does. A cat enjoys all that there is about the present; the present is something to fully savor with all our senses.
I’m also learning from my cat that we are purrfect just the way we are. I’m learning to fully allow, accept, and welcome All of who I am. Like Zeena, I can sometimes be persnickety, and have been known to throw the occasional hissy fit. But like Zeena, I’m learning to accept myself just as I am. Carl Jung said, “I’d rather be whole than good.” I bet Carl Jung had a cat. A cat doesn’t judge and criticize itself and try to be good. A cat doesn’t think, “I really need to be more loving.” Or, “I shouldn’t be napping now, I should be doing something, I should be accomplishing something.” Or, “I really shouldn’t use my human as a trampoline when she’s trying to sleep.” No, a cat allows ALL of its catness. A cat is a cat and that’s that.
I was getting ready to go to a party one day and I was feeling nervous about it. I feel uncomfortable at parties sometimes. I worry about what to do or say. I feel a bit like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. As I was worrying about this, I looked at Zeena, and these words came to me: “There’s nothing I have to do today, there’s nothing I have to do or say, just be in the Now all the way, that’s all I have to do today. Breathe in. Breathe out. That’s all I have to do.” I love those words. They’re very soothing to me.
While driving to the party I shared those words with my husband Tom, and our friend Nicola Gordon, a singer and songwriter from Santa Barbara. She loved those words too and said, “Let’s turn them into a song!” And we did! We put the words to the tune of “The Ants go Marching One by One”. We call it the Now song. This song has become a great reminder to me and my friends to breathe and come into the Now whenever we feel stressed or pressured. It’s also a great reminder, just like Zeena is, that we are enough, we are purrfect just the way we are.
(This part was written a week ago)
I am laying on my back and Zeena is laying on my chest. We are looking into each other’s eyes. She is very sick; her liver is failing. She is so still. I pet her, and she softly purrs. “I’m so sorry sweetheart that this is happening. I’m so sorry you are hurting.” I realize I’m saying this to myself, as well as to her.
As we lay heart to heart, I imagine pink light radiating from my heart to hers, flooding her whole body in pink light, trying to change her yellow jaundiced skin to pink. Maybe I will suddenly be endowed with healing power and a miracle will happen and she will survive, proving the vet wrong.
We hold each other in our silent gaze. We lay together in the warmth of loving presence for a long time, heart to heart, eye to eye, soul to soul. As I look at her, my mind starts to wonder, “How will it be without her?” It is hard to imagine her not being here. I will miss so much her sweet meow, her bunny-soft fur, how she runs to me for safety when her brother Bo is chasing her, how she lets me hold her like a baby, how she nestles into Tom’s armpit when he’s laying next to me, how she licks us with sweet kitty kisses and we joke, “Zeena can’t hold her licker.” Tears slowly roll down my face.
As I wipe my tears, I look at her – she is still here. Right now, she is here. She is laying on my chest. She is looking into my eyes. She is breathing in and breathing out with me in this warm, intimate moment, in this sweet, timeless space. This moment is all that there is. She is here now, and, so am I.
Is there something that life is asking you to come into loving presence with? Breathe in. Breathe out. Now…Here…This. Right Now is all there is.