Who is the Teacher?

Long ago Delilah, a tabby cat, came into my life. Facing diminishing sight from retinitis pigmentosa, I was worried about sitting or stepping on her because she was very dark. But she adapted to the danger after a couple of times of almost being squished. She learned to meow when I came into the room. I remember once when I had pink eye, she comforted me by curling by my side. It seemed she knew I was in distress. At 14 years she passed away. After her, I knew I would always need a cat in my life.

A friend of mine shared that she gets too attached to pets, so to be “safe” she refuses to get another. At 83, she said the loss is just too painful and not worth it. There is an old saying that says, ”It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” It’s for sure I’m not going to get through this life without some pain – whether physical, mental, or emotional. So I have decided to always have a cat whether it’s painful or not. There is a Teaching idea that I use frequently and that is to be “free to experience” whatever is going on because everything “comes to pass”. It’s worthwhile when I measure the pain against the many hours of joy I have with these cats.

At the humane society I began looking for a white cat that would be easier to see. In opening one cage, Bella, a white cat, started loving on me; and, of course, she became our second cat. I discovered that cats are like humans, each has it’s own special personality that unfolds as we get to know them. One of Bella’s games occurred around 3:00 am. I’d wake and hear Bella playing with a little cloth mouse, which after a time she’d bring to the bedroom, meowing. I finally figured out that it was her gift. And then she would jump up on the bed and sleep with me for the rest of the night. When I groomed her thick fur, she had the look of ecstasy on her face while rolling over for me to get every part of her body. I had never experienced connection with an animal to that degree.

I had taken on the suggestions from people who believed that cats were just “dumb animals.” Then one day I stumbled across a book called “Kinship with all Life” by J. Allen Boone and it opened my mind to see more about all of creation. It is wonderful to speculate that we all are connected – humans, animals and plants. To me, all animals are special – at least the ones I’ve come to know. It’s only at this age in my life that I want to learn to communicate with my cat, or horse or dog that I come in contact with. This book pointed out that I am not superior. Only as I’m humble, can I hear and communicate with these precious creatures – hence they have become my teachers.

I’ve seen my cats look into my eyes when I’m talking to them. Do they understand my words? That’s in my “I don’t know department.” Communication with animals is an ongoing experiment.

Another friend has a ranch where she gives lessons, boards horses, and does therapy riding. During my riding lesson she shared with me to look where I wanted to go, not at the saddle, horn, or reins. She said that the horse uses pictures in the mind for communication. I’ve experienced this at times when thinking about my cat brings her to my side for loving. We have such a privilege to be with these amazing creatures. They deserve our understanding, generosity, and kindness and always give back.

Bella had a heart condition we were not aware of and she passed away six months later. So, back I went to the humane society.  There was a beautiful cat named Myra. She came out from her little hide-a-way and licked my hand. The caretakers said she had never done that with anybody else and I thought, this is “the cat”. I associated “now” with “then” when I had previously chosen Bella. But as with humans, all are not alike and “now” is never like “then.” Each moment is completely different from the last. I will never know Myra’s past; but it didn’t work out for us. No matter what I did, I couldn’t connect with her and I refused to force her to let me love on her. I felt ignored and rejected and finally realized I had to face facts – with my blindness, I couldn’t be a therapist or cat whisperer, I needed a therapy cat – one that would be very affectionate. So I gave the wellbeing of Myra back to the humane society.

I had set many “ideals” for the cat I thought would fulfill my needs. Most times we don’t even recognize that we have so many “ought to be’s.” The cat had to be a female, between three and six years old, and multicolored. White parts could be seen when the cat was on a dark colored surface and the black parts showed up on a white surface.

From Myra, I learned that in picking a cat I needed to be able to pick it up and hear it purr – not hiss and lash out. It was the next step in tweaking my list and the best I could do for choosing. I don’t fit with all the humans I meet, and there is an inner feeling that lets me know which ones I want to know better. It works sometimes and doesn’t work on others. So perhaps all the senses need to be in the now and working – sight, hearing, touching, awareness and also inner feeling. What a lesson for so many things we do in our daily lives.

School Talk #25 discusses “Making up the Mind” – and there is another “Excerpt” called the “The What and the How”. I have experimented with both of those ideas by myself, with my daughter, and with my musical partner – it’s always interesting. I wrote down specifically what I wanted. Of first priority was a cat that needed lots of attention, leaving off the “ideal” of female and three years old

But after two trips weekly to the humane society, I finally realized I was afraid of making a mistake. There is a Teaching idea that we’ve never made a mistake because every decision we’ve made – at the time it was felt to be right, or proper and/or justified. But another discovery for me was that each “mistake” points me in a new direction that is more to my advantage.

After a month of these trips to the humane society, I saw this colorful cat (white and gray) tearing up the paper in his cage. I concluded he’s not for me! I wanted another Bella. I had made another “ideal”.

Next week I saw him again. Oh no! – he’s a male, he’s only one year old. But I remembered that I wanted to leave off the “ideal” of a Bella. Outside the cage, I could hold him and he was purring. It was time to take a chance again.

I brought him home. Is he too young? Yes, according to what “ought to be.” Was he Bella? No! Is that what we lay on every living human being we know? Do we unconsciously foist off conclusions we have about people we meet because they look like someone we did or didn’t like in the past? We’re all so different. I have discovered that I learn about myself from everyone I meet. I’ve discovered that each person in my life brings out a different personality in me. If I’m with a musician, I become music. If I’m with a fun person, I automatically bring out the silly, creative, happy one inside.

So, here I go. I finally made a decision to take him home. I discovered quickly that he wasn’t shy like Myra and was out exploring the house in thirty minutes. Yes, he has way more energy than I thought would be advisable; however, staying at the computer too long makes my eyes foggy and unresponsive. So playing with him in the morning and throughout the day breaks that hypnotized habit. Being sequestered for a year, I find I need activity more than being sedentary. He certainly provides action. Ha! So “we think we know what we need” and Life seems to know better what I need then all my little mental “ideals.”

I changed his name from “Rocko” to “Jazz,” since I don’t play very much rock. When we’re not playing, he follows me from room to room and helps me with all my tasks. He is a character, just like all the previous cats and humans I have ever known or know now – each has something to share and teach me, whether pleasant or not. Would you like for EVERYTHING to be pleasant and JUST THE WAY YOU WANT IT? Hmm. Ponder that one.

It’s time to go see what Jazz is doing because he is making some noise and I want to be part of it.  Thank you, Jazz, for gracing my existence. 

So, who’s the Teacher and what is Jazz teaching me?

  • He is a reason to get out of bed.
  • He radiates enthusiasm for life over the simplest of things – a box, a string with a feather at the end, something that wasn’t there before, a new person coming through the front door, watching birds in the front yard, feeling the breeze from an open window.
  • He sleeps with me and I know when I wake up through the night that he is there. When I touch him I feel warmth and hear purring.
  • He takes me away from media because he’s really more entertaining. He crouches and I say, “Get ready, get set GO!” Then he pounces, jumps in the air, turns half somersaults, falls, rolls to an upside down position and uses all fours attacking the mouse; and I giggle and laugh at his antics. In other words, he brings me back to the joy of the physical world.
  • He reminds me to be curious about everything and everybody and teaches me to remember that all life, all people, and all situations are to be enjoyed.
  • He can sneeze, and doesn’t have the fear of Covid. He just sneezes and doesn’t make it important.
  • He doesn’t judge my weight or my age.
  • He is a great listener and I get to express everything I need to say out loud without censure. I don’t have to apologize to anyone because I gave expression to some inner secret or some disappointment, anger or guilt.
  • I get exercise getting up and down from the floor, which I would not do ordinarily.
  • He reminds me that life is fun – not all the serious stuff we’re drawn into by news, the warnings of doom and gloom. He doesn’t care, he lives in the moment – no past, no future, just NOW.
  • To stop and pet him and listen to the purr affords me a quiet mind – something quite rare.
  • He is a wonderful companion, filling many hours which used to feel unfulfilled – now there’s laughter, affection, and joy.

I’m ever thankful to have him in my life and for our spirits to be connected.

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