Here I am, in lounge position on my deck considering the bumpy ebb and flow of emotion following life’s newest curve ball. I’m grateful to be in the midst of beauty; the sky is turning that soft, muted shade of blue pink, signaling the washing of light clouds across a setting sun. And then, as if on cue, I catch the heavy-footed thump that could only belong to my good friend.
“Hey buddy,” I say and watch his face turn to mine. Sweetly, with perfect assurance, he moves forward, jumps easily and lands his 17 pounds on my lap. I stroke his head, close in on that spot right between his eyes that he loves, and lean down to whisper, “It’s that time again; things are changing. Want to stay put for a little one-way conversation?” The motor begins so I think we’re on.
I smile down at Lucas, grabbing one ear to rub fondly. “I’ve got this change thing facing me again. I know what I’m supposed to do – accept the change; quit trying to control the outcome; find ways to make each moment matter – but that’s all easier said than done.” He looks gravely up at me and blinks slowly and that simple, languid movement is like him telling me to just chill. “Let the dust settle . . . and breathe,” I whisper to myself.
“Wherever you go, there you are.” I don’t know who’s originally responsible for this gem of thought. Could be Bart Simpson or The Buddha. Both simplistic and profound, it easily takes on individual meaning, suggesting possibilities far beyond geographical location. For me it shouts: Stop! Be present! This is reality . . . right here, right now.
I have long admired my cat’s ability to simply be. Lucas lived all his individual, ongoing moments navigating in clear, unwavering lines to his “there you are” places. With no thought about controlling a situation, disturbing something, or adding value, Lucas ate, watched, discovered, washed himself or collapsed into sleep . . . until he was done. Then, from his “there,” he traveled to his next “wherever” with seeming purpose and ease. His days and nights, yesterdays, todays and tomorrows were encountered, experienced and lived at face value.
Witnessing the primal wisdom of my best buddy who seems to operate within a kind of feline zen presence inspires me. But, to be honest, I don’t easily operate in the “well, here you are” calm space of the enlightened. Just imagine – no recriminations or should have’s, must get’s and what if’s. What freedom it must be to authentically and non-judgmentally accept each day’s circumstances. As one practicing how to live more fully in my own story, I only strive for that emancipation. Ah, but Lucas the cat? His daily living mirrors the full acceptance of “right here, right now.”
“You, with your primal brain, are lucky, my friend.” I whisper as I rearrange the parts of him that have begun to lop over my lap. I, however, consistently find myself gingerly tip toeing through a shifting plane of endless choices for being and doing, responding and deciding. But what I’m trying to practice using the straightforward life of Lucas, is whenever I do land in a changing landscape – a new “there” – I need to stop, breathe deeply and look around. Then, in stillness, with no struggle for control, no obsession to relive, no perfected plan for the next step, I need to take the time to unpack whatever baggage I’m carrying.
Believe me, I get it; just as I know you do. Some seasons of change can be lovely, but not all are easy or pleasant. We can find ourselves in places – physically, emotionally and spiritually – we neither expect nor want. Being able to simply sit, detached and without judgment, in a space where pain, hopelessness or loss sit with us is incredibly difficult. No glib comments or restless activities will ever make such a time and place disappear. But I’m finding those seasons are our teachers; they bring us to our knees and then help us stand anew. Their demands seem always the same: accept this newest “wherever” you find yourself, breathe, rest, watch and listen . . . all the time moving toward balance within this newest “there you are” place, no matter its joys or sorrows.
“Find your own catlike balance,” I feel this season’s breeze whisper, “and practice keeping your equilibrium again and again, because one truth is sure to remain across all the seasons of change: ‘Wherever you go, there you are.’”
It must be dinner time; Lucas has jumped from my lap. He takes a moment for a long stretch and then moves with focused purpose toward the door, calmly waiting for his next “there you are.” I follow his lead.