Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Purrfect Moment

Life would be so much easier if I could just stop looking for that perfect arrangement of things, that ideal which continually leads me to reject the messes that I'm usually surrounded with.

But I've gotten better. I remember the day it happened. I had a dream in which something I didn't like happened, and I reacted by gritting my teeth. Immediately all the teeth on the right side of my mouth fell out, plus one on my left, and I just spat them into my hand. They were broken, bloody, warm and heavy.

As horrible as that seems, that was actually a really good dream. It represented the death of an ideal, a fixation that was leading me towards a very small version of myself. I didn't need those teeth anymore because I was through with those ambitions. Up to that point I only saw myself in a few people and things in the world, and I could tell it was time for me to see myself in everything: the messes, the poor, the powerless, the awkward, the difficult. The troublesome.

Meditation with Matthew Reichers on a recent Sunday reminded me of this idea of letting go of hopes for perfection. It was held at Babbo's Books before it opened, the only store associate there was the shop cat, Holly. The previous week Holly had gotten a little frisky during the meditation and wound up knocking Matthew's water glass over and spilling water onto his books, so this week we tried putting her in the bathroom during the meditation. It didn't work out, by the time he was done explaining the mediation technique we could hear Holly yelping in the bathroom, and we all knew that the little fur ball would be rejoining the group. You don't have to be a Buddhist to know that a cat scratching at the door of her little prison would interfere with whatever peace you are trying to cultivate.

The meditation for that day involved hearing, or imagining that we heard, the syllables om, ah, and hung as we breathed in and out. I became aware a few minutes into the mediation that the cat had seated herself on the lap of the woman sitting on my right and was purring loudly. I was aware that one might see this as a diversion from the task at hand, but didn't really feel that way. She sounded like a warm little furnace burning away, and she gave off such cozy heat that I started to weep a little bit, having been hit full on by the beauty of this little animal. I'd been thinking about cats anyway that week, about how comfortable they are in their skin, how they take their time, about their confidence and friskiness, about the comfort they bring me when I think about being that comfortable and confident in my own skin. I always seem to forget that's a possibility.

I think I was weeping about cats for the last half of that meditation, how much they've given people throughout human history, and then I started weeping about dogs, and all that they give, those dog smiles, the compassion they have (have you ever wept around your dog? Those pansies can't take it). What special animals these friends of ours are. I never expected that I'd be doing guru yoga for dogs and cats that day, I don't think that's what Michael intended, I know it wasn't what I expected, but I felt very happy where I wound up, it was suitably ridiculous and harmless.

Now I'm waiting for the dream when the teeth on the left side of my mouth fall out. But I'm in no hurry. Deeply satisfying moments do happen, but it seems unexpectedly, and sadly, I know I can't hold on to them. Jung said something like "Yesterday's perception is tomorrow's deception," and just because a cat restores my pleasure in life on a certain day doesn't mean that the next day it won't be a dog that comes bounding to the rescue, barrell tied to his neck.

Cat pictured: Holly of Babbo's Books, as in Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Yes, she's a glamour girl. She seemed to get offended when I kept taking her picture, as if to say, wasn't the first shot good enough? My apologies to her, it's just a habit I have. Something I learned in school.


Anonymous said...

Amy, this is really beautiful! You are so revealed in your writing--it is wonderful to see. You are very present to what is going on around you.

Has Sophie read your blog? Does she like it or is it too sophisticated for her?

Much love, joy, om, and purrr

amarilla said...

Ok, I'm trying to guess who you are...not present enough to figure it out...om, ugh, purr, um, are you my mom?