MY CAT BEATRIX has become a study in spiritualism for me. I’m amazed every day at her determination to reach her goals, and I imagine that if she could talk, she’d articulate it like this: “Today I will get Mom to play with me, preferably outside.” She concentrates all her efforts on this goal and so rarely fails to meet it that she must be glowing with self-confidence.
This goal may not seem so insurmountable to those of us in the human world who have so many other, seemingly loftier goals, but Beatrix faces many obstacles along the way. She has competition from 2 other cats, plus seven nieces and nephews for my attention. And she somehow has to convince me that throwing her mousy is much more important than paying the bills, doing the dishes, getting groceries, meditating, talking on the phone, mopping the floor, writing, cleaning up dead grasshopper carcasses she’s dragged into the house……the list goes on and on.
How does she do it? She enjoys playing so much every single time that it is always enjoyable for me as well. She knows how to appreciate what she has when she has it, and wouldn’t even think of worrying about her next attempt at getting me to play. Beatrix the cat is very present.
I, on the other hand, am rarely present. Even now, as I’m writing these words, I’m thinking ahead to whether they are good enough for someone else to read, what my job has in store for me today, and my post-work obligations.
This is not exactly the centered way of thinking that I’m striving for, which brings me to the point of this story. Our pets have a lot to teach us a lot about how to work the process of spiritual growth in a realistic way. They do what they have to do to deal with their emotions and whatever life is handing them, but unlike us humans they don’t carry around a lot of guilt, fear, or shame about how they’ve handled things, or what’s happened to them. They’re on to the next thing as soon as the previous thing is done.
And it’s true that whenever I’m all over the place with worry and stress, Beatrix always comes through to remind me what is important. Case in point, I was sitting out on my front stoop one fine Sunday morning eating a breakfast consisting of an entire carafe of coffee and three peanut butter fudge cookies. I casually glanced up to enjoy the sights of nature.
That’s when my jaw dropped at the scene unfolding before me: my beloved furball had somehow sneaked across the street. And she’d apparently decided that for her return trip she could, in fact, outpace the white beater car that was fast approaching, making a sprint across the roadway as it ominously bore down on her.
With a cookie and the word “Noooooo” both lodged in my throat in terror, I watched as she went under the vehicle and just kept running. One of the back tires brushed her and I rose up to help, sure that she’d go flying and land hard on the concrete. Instead she didn’t even pause, continuing to sprint straight towards me and into the wedged open front door.
She was fine, by the way, and immediately began enviously eyeballing the neighbor dog that was walking down the street with it’s owner while using her most pitiful cry to try to convince me to let her back outside. She also ran up and down her cat tree three times, ate the Deli Select roast beef I gave her in .258 seconds flat, and chased her catnip mousie all around the wood floors with glee. For her, it was just a typical Sunday.
Meanwhile, I was watching like a hawk for signs of internal bleeding, concussion, limping, or psychological trauma. Once I ruled out the first three, I realized: hey, she’s over it. That was so 2 hours ago for her, and she’s living it up RIGHT NOW. It’s irrelevant if she even knew she could have died, because, whether or not she knew, she just doesn’t care about what ifs. She cares about what is.
And I, as always, am left learning my most important lessons about life from a cat. If she wasn’t so damn cute, I’d be annoyed with her for being so good at this life stuff. But she doesn’t even inspire envy, she’s that good.
Enlightenment Tip #1: Adopt a pet. Or rather, allow them to adopt you.
-Kirstie Ganobsik, AKA Beatrix’s Human