Looking back and thinking forward

Month: June, 2013


10 Minutes about spirituality … go:

Incense and candles, japa mala and water tinkling in a nearby fountain. Breathing slowly and deeply sitting cross legged and thinking of the mantra allowing my mind to wander and coaxing it back ever so gently to the word. Om sri ram ramayanama and then thoughts come and go … om tare tutare ture svaha … and back to jumbled, rambling thoughts again. But spirituality really comes in realizing the human condition and feeling at one with it. Or wandering through an arboretum sensing and smelling the flora and fauna in a different town. Sharing friendship or even just a glass of wine together learning to speak each other's language. Spirituality is at the end of a presentation where participants are sharing, laughing or tearing up together, and one steps up to me and asks if she can give me a hug. And she hugs me with strength and warmth – showing me how she has felt throughout my talk. Spirituality is connecting with animals, old and young. Spirituality is pouring out my heart in a blog post, and receiving a comment or two, or email from a gentle reader, who noticed my words, and connected to some part of them in their own way. Spirituality is teachers sharing with me all the ways they were disciplined as young children – telling us out loud about the pain and humiliation they felt – even the anger – and people in the room silent as they listen, but their listening is accepting and comforting even as it is silent.

Spirituality is about feeling connected and unafraid.

Anthropomorphic me


always thought of myself as a dog person, until about fourteen years ago when I acquired a
cat because I thought Life Partner
would want one. We had just married, and as we were too old to have children of
our own it seemed to me like our home still needed some kind of vulnerable
soul for both of us to take care of – other than ourselves, that is. And so, at that time, Molly the kitten joined our humble abode. Within a few months I was
completely in love with her. I bought numerous books that told me how to care
for cats, including ways of understanding the way they learn to communicate
with their humans. But, through living with and observing them, I rather think that I
learned how to communicate with them instead! And from then on I became an avid cat lady.

I have been reading through the archives of the blogs that I have been writing
for the past eight years, to find where my cats Molly, Ada, Mimi or Oscar are
mentioned. I am amazed to discover how many of the posts include those little,
furry, feline creatures. It seems they accompany me throughout my life, in the blog whether as
asides, thoughts, mentions, or with lengthy descriptions of their behaviors and
interactions. Indeed, they are never far from my mind. If they were able to
enter my brain and listen to my thoughts, I would say that they know me very
well. More than that – my cats are a part of me inside and out. In fact, I am
beginning to think they represent me, or that I identify with them. We are, at
least in my mind, inseparable. When I prepare to leave on vacation or even for
work in the morning I experience pain and longing for them just at the thought
of leaving them alone in the house. I imagine they will feel abandoned and
despairing, and that they will remain sitting with their noses pressed up to
the windowpane searching for me until I return. People tell me that they go to
sleep when I leave. But how do they know that for sure?

I am transferring my own childhood fears and feelings onto them?

long ago, when little Oscar was very ill, the vet assured me of his resilience,
describing the amazing strength feral cats had to survive the most challenging
of conditions. She smiled and chuckled when I described the aggressive way I
saw Mimi playing with him. I was mortified and fearful worried about how poor
little Oscar was being hurt by his sister. The vet gently explained to me that
was how cats play together! Was I putting myself in Oscar’s shoes? – Me – a human
in the paws of a cat! After he died, I watched Mimi searching for him from room
to room. At times she mewed as if calling to him. My heart broke for her as if
she was a human mourning the loss of a sibling – as if I was mourning all of my
own past losses. 

Yes indeed, I realize that there is much more to explore about these symbiotic relationships between me and my cats. I have only scratched at the surface, if you will excuse the pun, gentle reader. In the meantime, I will try to head out on my many travels this month across the Unted States and over the oceans to England and Israel without too much angst and agony at having to leave sweet little Mimi behind with an adoring cat sitter named Lindsey. 

Sifting through faded papers

Yesterday morning I woke out of a dream that sent me to my box of old, faded memory papers: cards from loved ones; marriage or divorce documents; pieces of journals that I kept as a reminder of history and personal progress that grew out of those old stories; especially memorable photographs or poems; old report cards from my earliest childhood years; and a tassel from my doctoral graduation. I found the answer to my dream in that old box. It lay there in a folder of cards and photographs from over a decade ago. Not that long ago. But as I rummaged through, I discovered that period of my life is still such a part of me. Locking it away in a box does not drive it out of my memory. For, there it was in my dream the night before, disguised as something else, of course, as dreams can sometimes do. But there it was nevertheless. I am always intrigued by what triggers my brain to bring back feelings from times gone by. Such a mystery! I knelt on the carpet up on the third floor in my study, holding the card in my hand, papers, and photographs strewn around me as I searched for answers to my dream. As I worked my way through the folder, I came upon these words in one of the cards written to me:

What a loving friend you have been over the years, especially when I needed you to be there for me, you were. I could count on you – always (Even my neglected plants could). I don't know how I would have gotten through this past year without your friendship.

While it made me nostalgic and longing, even a bit regretful about the decisions I had made (or not made) at the time, it also gave me peace, realizing now – which I was unable to understand then – that I was loved and gave love in return.