Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Reconciliation of Opposites ~ Searching for the Tao

The softest thing in the universe
Overcomes the hardest thing in the universe
That without substance can enter where there is no room
Hence I know the value of non-action
Teaching without words and work without doing
Are understood by very few.

from Tao of Power (Dao De Jing)

One evening I was reading quietly with my two cats laying on the table in front of me. I read the passage above from the Dao De Jing out loud and suddenly Mozart and Beethoven pricked up their ears turning their heads to glaze at me. . . in wonder. . . or in boredom, I don't know. Their whiskers fanned open and were fully arched towards me. They were staring at me as if lobsters were climbing out of my ears! I stared back. "I wish you guys could talk", I said, "and tell me what it is you are thinking! Did I say something wrong?!" When there was no response, I went back to my reading and Mo-Mo and Bey-Bey looked at each with their permanent smiles a little bit wider than normal. They laid their heads down on their crossed paws. Their whiskers twitching.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Introducing Beethoven

Beethoven didn’t come to us the same time as Mozart. An acquaintance of mine was his owner and decided that her family couldn’t take care of him any longer since they were going to move. I had always felt that Beethoven was a serious, to the point of being somber, cat and that he deserved a lot more attention that he got. He had always had the attitude of wounded pride, a kind of “I don’t care if you like me or not” bravado. Mr. Tuff Cat. He looked a little scruffy. His dark fur was coarse and stuck straight out it was so thick. He was a kitty cat “pig pen” in that where ever he walked; little puffs of cat fur flew out of him creating a halo of fuzz! Although we were not looking to get another cat, we took him in and it has been a blessing ever sense, for him and for us!

The first night at home I began to comb him, and comb him, and brush, and brush him. By the end of our first grooming session, I had a ball of fur the size of the basketball!! After many brushing we came to discover that we had a brown and white cat, not a black and white one!! He was aloof and was suspicious of being handled. “Meoooogrrrrr.” Then he’d hop down and prowl his new territory. He’d look at us suspiciously from the other side of the room with a dour expression on his face. We told him that we did love whether he liked it or not and let him roam and adjust and hide if he needed to do so. He’d come a running, however, when he was fed. He had a voracious appetite. He virtually would lay down over his dish to protect his food. He’d eat his food, Mozart’s food, and all the cat treats we’d give him. It did take longer for Beethoven to adjust to his new environs. It was like he wanted to trust us but couldn’t quite yet do so.

Like a human being who has been hurt, he was unable to commit to a relationship with us immediately. He had known me previously and related the best with me at first. He had met Mozart before and after a few confrontations over territory and a period of ignoring each other; they began to get along like littermates. I credit Mozart with this. Mo-Mo is such a loving happy cat. His “let’s get along and play” attitude finally got through Beethoven’s defenses. In a slow and tentative way, Beethoven began to come out of his defensive shell with us too. He relaxed about his food, I think, when he realized that there would always be enough. On occasion he would actually jump on your lap, but only for 30 seconds or so. He began to trust us.

Today, Beethoven is a loving kitty. He wants to be held and brushed and played with. He will come up to me and in a frenzy of kitty-cat-cheek-rubbing-on-legs tells me, “you are mine”. Tuff Cat has turned into my brown molasses jug of kitty cat sweetness, as I call him to tease him. (By the way, Mozart is my marmalade pot of kitty cat sweetness). Like a wounded-healer, he shares his affection in a deep way.

The name Beethoven seemed quite appropriate for him. Beethoven seems to view life with a romantic sense of the tragic as if fate will soon be knocking at his door at any time; a realist who aches for the good and true and is overjoyed when it is found and appreciates it. Like Ludwig von Beethoven, he knows the callousness and hurt of the world but hopes for transcendent joy of freedom and unity:

Joy, fair spark of the gods, Daughter of Elysium, Drunk with fiery rapture, Goddess, We approach thy shrine!

Thy magic reunites those Whom stern custom has parted; All men will become brothers Under thy gentle wing.

Be embraced, Millions! Take this kiss for all the world! Brothers, surely a loving Father Dwells above the canopy of stars.

Do you sink before him, Millions? World, do you sense your Creator? Seek him then beyond the stars! He must dwell beyond the stars.

~~ An die Freude (Ode to Joy) by Friedrich Schiller

Monday, July 18, 2005

Beethoven and Mozart

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Introducing Mozart

I will never forget the day that I was chosen by Mozart to be his owner. I was at the animal shelter looking for a cat and was surveying all the cages at eye level when suddenly a white paw gently curled itself around my right hand hanging at my side. I looked down and a beautiful two-year-old orange tabby cat looked up at me with his great big green eyes with gold sparkles and it was love at first site. “This is the one,” I said emphatically! “Meooow!”

One of the assistants got him out of his cage for me and we sat with each other in one of their “interview” rooms to get to know each other, but we both knew we were meant for each other.

After all the arrangements and de-clawing were done, it did take a little bit of time for Mozart or “Mo-Mo”, as I call him, to get use to us. Not long, but, as with all cats, there was a time of adjustment, investigation and a sizing up of his situation. He was taking ownership of the house. I had never owned a cat before and so I checked out every cat book in the library to read up about cat behavior and care. I would sit next to him on the couch and he would look at me from the other end with those deep green intelligent eyes in such a way that I felt he could read my thoughts. The ancient Egyptians believed that the morning rays of the sun god Ra were in the eyes of a cat, a bright clarifying fire. They believed that the domestic cat was the incarnation of Bast, the famous cat-goddess of ancient Egypt who was supposedly the daughter of Ra. Bast was the eye of Ra, clear-sighted and sound in judgment. She was the goddess of fertility, love, dance and music. My Mozart’s eyes were clear and sound seemingly wise and mysterious at once, too. They were merry eyes full of what seemed to me to be music, the effervescent music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Mozart quickly adjusted and became a very loving, bright and happy cat. I was amazed how social Mo-Mo was and affectionate. I was surprised at all the different noises a cat can make beyond the usual “meow”: chirps, chortles, squeaks, growls, and the mysterious purr. Cat language is very direct and emotive. Cats make it quite clear how they feel with the sounds they make. It is quite simple, really. Cats have also never forgotten that human beings once worshiped them although they smile sheepishly at that!!

I had grown up with the erroneous belief that cats were aloof. Oh, no, not aloof, but self-confident. Some people think cats are not intelligent and cannot be trained. Oh, no, they are very intelligent, too intelligent and independent to let themselves be snookered into doing parlor tricks. Mozart quickly became an affectionate member of the family, a wise and patient companion, listening like the Egyptian sphinx with his paws crossed in front of him to all the human talk watching all the doings going on around him. I often wondered what was going on behind those bright eyes: music, meditation or philosophical reflection? "Purrrrrr".