Hocus Pocus, Bogus Focus

The other morning, I was watching Kiva, our cat, out in the back yard. Her focus was unwavering as she jumped from some blade of grass that was stirring in the breeze to a flying thing in the air that I couldn’t see, but which she pounced on, or tried to. After a while, she headed to a patch of dirt under the branches of our Mulberry tree, where pods of pollen have begun to appear in their ancient and faithful ritual of spring. Kiva then moved on to her practice of cat-yoga and began to roll around in the dirt, with a range of movement beyond anything available to mere humanity.

Then Bailley, our chihuahua-mix, came out into the backyard through the dog-door. For a moment, I am shocked to see that he is stark naked. The coat that Nature gave Bailley is shorter than my head of hair is today, after my second buzz-cut of the year; and I realize that Bailley wearing no cloths must be a sign of the imminent arrival of summer.

I wonder how Bailley feels about moth-balling his extensive wardrobe, of which he is exceedingly fond. Our other dog, Red, and also Kiva, might have lasted a day or two in the previous Ice Age, but Bailley is so dependent on his sweaters and jackets to withstand the mild New Mexico winters that he is ecstatic when my wife holds up one and asks if he wants to put it on.

Forget about the reputed color-blindness of dogs: there are some days when the forest green hunting jacket is right and others when a red Icelandic sweater calls out to him.

How extensive is Bailley’s wardrobe? Well, let me put it this way: if he were to win the lottery and shop for his own house, a walk-in closet would be a non-negotiable item. Clearly what began as a matter of comfort has become a love of style.

I seem to have lost my train-of-thoughts, or perhaps I got off at the wrong station. So, what was I saying before I started wandering in this stream of consciousness?

Actually, since you bring it up, I don’t think that I am actually the one who is wandering; I am more like a raft floating on a meandering stream of thinking, as it bubbles forth from some unknown spring in far off mountains; I’m just a passive passenger bobbing along wherever the stream decides to take me.

It occurs to me that if Bailley has imported a sense of style into the practical issue of staying warm, that is nothing compared to how I have woven a spider’s web around my own perceptions and thoughts, while leaving entirely unexamined whatever practical considerations set up their tents in the distant past. In my conditioned mind, castles of contingency tower above whatever practical interests engendered them. But–oh, yes–I was talking about my cat’s concentration, wasn’t I?

If Kiva lived in an Ashram in India or a temple in a Buddhist country, they might adopt the phrase “Kiva-mind” in place of the phrase “monkey mind” to indicate our mind’s tendency to jump from thought-to-thought and reaction-to-reaction. But it also seems true that Kiva has a capacity for concentrated focus that far exceeds my own, if only for a few moments at a time. I would like to have a bit of that for myself. Then I could apply it while I’m drifting along on the stream of consciousness with no paddle. And when a monkey reaches down from an overhanging branch and tries to steal my lunchbox, I would hold on tight, while I’m pulled out of my canoe of comfortable inertia; then I might experience what it feels like to live in the trees, from whose branches I’ve heard it said that my kind recently descended.

6 comments to “Hocus Pocus, Bogus Focus”
  1. You have a cat named after a radio station, KIVA, that I listen to occasionally when I can catch the show — The Spirits of NM. It is often as elusive as the birds Kiva pursues.

  2. Hi Michael:

    Reading your post, I couldn’t help dredging up this cat thing that I wrote years ago:

    Sunday afternoon. The sun streams in through the window, dust motes dancing in the rays. I’m sitting at my table reading. The neighbourhood is strangely quiet. Most citizens are probably away doing something, on such a beautiful day. I can hear a faint knocking occasionally, someone hammering up the street. The cat is asleep in a chair beside me. A longhair, he’s sprawled in that peculiarly longhaired attitude — lying on his back, legs every which way, at first glance with more the appearance of an orange rag thrown in disarray on the chair, than that of a cat. On his little cat face, eyes closed, is a beatific expression of total relaxation. All is well in his feline world, for the moment, anyway. The wisdom of the ages would be mine, if I could persuade him to talk. In the silence, I can hear him breathing faintly: wheeze, wheeze, wheeze . . .

    Love you as always.

    -Paul

  3. Hi Michael:

    Reading your posting today, I couldn’t help thinking of something I wrote in the1990s, when I lived in Vancouver:

    “Sunday afternoon. The sun streams in through the window, dust motes dancing in the rays. I’m sitting at my table reading. The neighbourhood is strangely quiet. Most citizens are probably away doing something, on such a beautiful day. I can hear a faint knocking occasionally, someone hammering up the street. The cat is asleep in a chair beside me. A longhair, he’s sprawled in that peculiarly long-haired attitude — lying on his back, legs every which way, at first glance with more the appearance of an orange rag thrown in disarray on the chair, than that of a cat. On his little cat face, eyes closed, is a beatific expression of total relaxation. All is well in his feline world, for the moment, anyway. The wisdom of the ages would be mine, if I could persuade him to talk. In the silence, I can hear him breathing faintly: wheeze, wheeze, wheeze . . .”

    Nothing really earth-shattering or insightful, just a nice vague remembrance.

    – Paul

    • Dear Michael, I am playing catch up on your Wonderful Writings ✍!♡♡. You had me laugh on this one and put a smile on my face ☺ 😄 as usual!♡♡. Looking forward to going back on the others I know I have missed! Thanks for Sharing Your Talented Wonderful Writings ✍ ❤ 😀!♡♡

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