Feline Zen 1/7/21

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

As our democracy falls to traitors invading the capital, an action that no doubt would have been met with violence and a military response if the insurrectionists were minorities, perhaps I should write on today’s events. But I’m so worked up that perhaps that is not a great idea. Instead, I think I want to talk about a few lessons on Zen that I have picked up from observing Star, my newest family member and overweight feline extraordinaire. Perhaps now, more than ever, we need to relax a bit and let go of some of this stress, don’t you think?

Feline Zen is a way of life for them. First of all, cats are masters of simply accepting their current situation for what it is. They don’t worry about what is to come, and aside from having learned what to avoid, they don’t seem to pay much attention to their past. Squirrels, for example, always worry about the future, working away the beautiful spring and summer days gathering nuts for fear of a sparse winter. There is a certain wisdom in this, but a cat, on the other hand, simply live the day.

A friend of mine, on speaking about her frustration with the events in today’s capital simply said, “everyone is so concerned for [sic] temporary change in office. We will be ok.” I think she’s had it with the outgoing administration, and is no fan of the incoming, but she simply recognizes that no matter who is in office tomorrow, or what happens tonight, time marches on. She is prepared to simply accept the circumstances as they are, recognizing that she cannot change them and regardless of what comes to pass, it will all be history tomorrow. This is a form of Zen, and frankly, those who can accept life and the consequences of the struggles of today will probably be happier and have a healthier tomorrow than angry old farts like me who is hoping the insurrectionists are tried for treason.

Cats have an amazing ability to just relax. A cat typically sleeps as long on any given day as humans are awake. They seem to find the best places to lay, based on warmth (like on my chest) or softness (like between my legs when they’re covered in a blanket), and always find the most comfortable sleeping positions no matter how bizarre they seem. But, once determined, they don’t just plop down and sleep. If you’ve ever seen it, the feline will lay down, and just sit and stare at nothing in particular. It looks very much like they are meditating, just calming their minds before the ever-critical sleeping begins.

Meditation helps calm the mind and brings peace to the spirit. Tonight, many people are angry. Protesters are upset by the election results and are anxious to show their anger, and Democrats are upset and anxious to fight against those who are adding fuel to the fire. This is a good night to just calm the mind and spirit. As the National Guard is called (by the vice president, not the president) to clear the streets of our nation’s capital, one way or the other, this violence will end, the electoral count will be completed, and Trump, in accordance with the people’s will as demonstrated in a legal election will be removed from office. Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I expect I will try a little bit of meditation. When I did it regularly, it did make me feel better, and like anything else, it takes practice. It doesn’t do a lot at first, but with practice, it becomes increasingly important.

We can expect things to continue as they should. The Congressional count will still verify the electoral results of Biden’s win despite the protests. Biden will be sworn in as president as scheduled despite false narratives of a rigged election. The Senate will flip to a Democratic majority thanks to the two wins in Georgia tonight (actually, it’s an actual toss up, but with Kamala Harris as vice president, the Democratic party will have the tie breaking vote). We will have four years to discover if Biden tries, or is successful in uniting this divided nation, and at least two years to see if Democratic control of both sides of Congress can make a difference. And through it all, my cat, Star, will knead comfortable spots to sleep, meditate before closing her eyes, and adapt to her new home and surroundings, simply accepting what is.

Lord, I hope I can learn from her.

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