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Lessons from a Cat

I once watched my cat go up to every single tree in an area he had never been before. He walked up to each aspen tree, surveyed the space around it with his eyes and then stretched his gaze all the way up taking in the whole tree. Watching him, it seemed as though he was greeting every new growth he came across. As I sat there on the grass near him, I noticed how I had obviously taken in the fact that we were sitting in the midst of a clump of aspen trees- but it never occurred to me to survey and greet each one personally. He seemed to be taking the slowing down, recognizing, and appreciating what is around you to a whole new level right before my eyes.

Before long I found myself looking up to the tops of each new tree with him—following the line of the beautifully white bark, noticing the little etchings nature had made along the way, watching the leaves sway in the breeze above. Enjoying and recognizing the trees in a whole new manner, each one different, each one beautiful.

But it’s a challenge for me to live like that. To go over the same territory day in and day out and still find pleasure in it. Even when I’m not hurried— to slow down enough to see the beauty that IS all around me takes constant vigilance for me. I’ve discovered that even the most delicious events of life can take on a shade of grey if I don’t practice diligent awareness and gratefulness for every little treasure.

I look to my cats for examples! I notice how day in and day out they not only move at an extremely balanced pace, they also enjoy everything anew, each day. The game that was fun yesterday is usually still fun today, and also, likely to be fun tomorrow. I watch them go out into the same backyard they visit every day and experience each new patch of earth anew.

They notice how the breeze has blown the leaves, how they are all in new places now. They notice how some animal passed here in the night leaving a trail of its scent behind. They revel in examining just what is under the deck today, almost with an expectation that it will be different, or at least that it will still be interesting. I strive to experience life like that!

Watching them go through these simple pleasures continually reminds me of how joyful it is to really take in the life I am leading, and revel in its little delicacies.

They teach me other things too—other tactics to practice when I discover I’m not paying attention, not going slow enough to appreciate life.

Just today I learned that sometimes what is necessary is a whole new approach. Even though you saw that tree in your backyard yesterday, you did not approach it at a mock five sprint, and that just might be interesting to do today. You never know until you try it!

Perhaps it’s not the speed that counts- it’s the creativity and the awareness with which you move within the space you have. I gather that it helps you take in the view from a whole new perspective. I’ll keep that in mind the next time that I feel a stagnant lull coming on—perhaps just the thing I will need to slow me down is a quick sprint through every room in the house!

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