In the beginning, I was helpless. Or so I assume, since babies I have observed, including the ones that I helped bring into this world, seem to need a nest in order to eat, stay warm, and learn a few practical skills—such as how to fly out of that nest. Eventually all those babies seem to find a trajectory for themselves (or at least they keep looking for one, just as I do).
Justin, the cat that is lying in my lap as I write this, appears to have his own set of needs, habits, affinities, aversions; and he seems to still be looking for a familiar nest to provide a responsive environment as his body becomes stiffer, colder, slower, and less reliable in digestion, movement, and temperature control. Every morning, as soon as he sees me sit down, he seeks out the warmth of my lap like iron filings moving toward a magnet.
This world—by which I mean all those confluences of group consciousness, inertial societal momentums, and the living, self-replenishing cycles of Nature—seems quite like the lap in which my cat is now lying. I too am lying here, embraced within the hope that a hand will descend to rest on my side, allowing me to feel that a living realm is present; one that responds to my presence within it.
As with most metaphors, it seems that my needs differ from those of my cat, Justin. But certainly there are parallels. We both rely on the familiar to provide comfort, and to construct a terrain in which we can realize our expectations—be they for warmth, food, or brief flights of adventure. Viewed from outside, it seems that the paddocks which hem in Justin’s and my ranges of exploration are both rather small.
Recently Justin has been following us down the sidewalk when we walk the dogs. And this morning, our dogs were barking madly from our bedroom and I could hear another dog somewhere outside barking aggressively. I couldn’t visualize the situation from my position on the couch, and didn’t feel inclined to get up and look. But a bit later, my wife told me that the cattle dog that lives across the street, who was leaving his house on a leash, was barking and straining to get at Justin, while Justin was calmly regarding him from under a car in their driveway.
So perhaps when I compare myself to Justin I have some catching up to do in the adventure department.
My wife and I are planning a trip to Canada to visit my sister, who lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia. It’s been more than a decade since I stepped foot inside the land of my birth, and whose citizenship I still hold. Perhaps that counts for an adventure in the making. But when it comes to the bar raised by Justin, calmly staring down a cattle dog who is snarling and straining on his leash, perhaps I need to raise my own game. I know what I need to do. I need to talk to someone wearing a red baseball cap and explore whether we can agree that “it’s time to make the human mind great again.”
If that works, then I may start asking myself, at moments of challenging uncertainty–when a moral path seems hidden under obscuring mists–“What would Justin do in this situation?”
But I guess I’m in no hurry to be reborn as a cat in my next life. I enjoy being able to explore my human potential in which there is room to be a temporary nest for Justin. I enjoy exploring the TSK vision, even though I feel stiff with habit and, more often than not, forget to appreciate the spaciousness that surrounds and permeates my every gesture.
Where did Great Space go this time? Ah, there it is, guiding my pen across the yellow pages of my legal pad; there it is bringing the coffee cup to my lips. Like an ocean wave bringing kelp and driftwood onto a sandy beach, Great Space keeps depositing me here in the ebb and flow of time: unfolding another day among my fellow travelers; all of us at one among the riff raff that speaks of the open sea.