(this foto is in color)
Cat on chest,
purr at ear,
fur in face —
– Smith, 5.30.2015
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We brought flowers home from the Chiplis’ garden, put them in a vase, whereupon MandyCat jumped up on the table and started noshing on the rose, so we put them in the living room on the bookshelf and moved the chair so she couldn’t get up.
Mandy came in, smelled the flowers, her eyes immediately focused on the bookshelf. She walked back and forth at its base, sat and looked up, looked at the chair, looked up again, walked over, jumped up on the chair and tried to reach the flowers. No go. She tried climbing the wooden chair arms and back, but it didn’t work. Jumped down, sat and looked awhile thinking, then walked to the side, gathered herself, and leapt up to the flowers and started chomping. Quite a leap for a 13 year old cat – about 5 times her height.
It was fascinating to watch another lifeform think things through successfully . . . at least until I moved the flowers to a non-accessible site.
If there is spirit or mind or soul in us, the same is in animals in whom I have observed thinking, planning, playing, loyalty, anger. Seen a slew of videos where injured animals come to people for help, in spite of us being their normal enemy. I’ve read of dolphins protecting people in the water from sharks. I’ve seen inter-species animal friendships. I know the birds we feed out front every morning are here at 7 for seed, and if it’s not out there at the time they expect it, they let us know. I saw a film of a Russian bird who slid down a steep roof sitting on a lid, then at the bottom picked the lid up in its beak, flew to the top and rode the lid down again over and over in play.
Humans are arrogant in self delusion thinking only we have thought, mind, soul, intelligence . . . and we are exceptionally cruel to all that isn’t human . . . even exceptionally cruel to most humans, as well as the planet. We are a mean, thoughtless, short-sighted species, and yet so many of us are good and kind and caring.
There’s the Native American parable of how we each have two wolves inside us, one vicious, one good, they are fighting each other, and the one that wins is whichever one we choose to feed. I see a lot of folk in the news these days feeding the bad beast. Since I’ve fed both in my time, I can tell you it’s easier and better for both doer and done to feed the good.
I am an animist, believe rock, tree, mountain, sea, earth all have spirit that must be respected. Even manufactured items have personality, character, can help or hinder flow depending on how we interact. Seek bad, find bad, feed good, see good, become good.
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At home I am vegetarian, partially because I know how much growing meat damages the planet and how cruelly the animals are treated and how eating them poisons our body, and partially because my wife is the cook and she’s vegetarian (sometimes vegan), but out in the world I frequently eat meat.
Today I got the urge for a hamburger so rode my bicycle down to the Scrapyards for a 5 Guys burger, which I’ve had before and liked.
Well, it smelled unpleasant and tasted so-and stunk my hands and face with the stink of dead flesh. Must have washed my hands 15 times before I got rid of the scent. Then the meat sat lumpish in my stomach and I realized my body is moving on from meat while my mind still worships it.
Leaving 5 Guys on my bike, I debated going to Walmart for a package of cookies, but they’re essentially the Great Satan feeding off taxpayer money, so decided to come home. Walking while straddling my bike trying to get from curb to street, the bike tipped, my right foot went a foot down to street while my left foot and the bike stayed on the curb, and I hit the pavement sideways fast and flat. Some aches and scrapes and minor blood and thankful for my luck it wasn’t worse. Pickup passenger few feet away casually said “You okay?” “Yup, thanks for asking.”
Thanks to Lady Luck, who’s been awfully good to me these 69 years, I’m still banging my way through.
I ache in more places, which reminds me of that great Leonard Cohen line on aging — “I ache in the places where I used to play” from Tower of Song. That man reduces great sweeps of life to such short sweet velvet strokes of poetic wisdom.