Today, I was drawn into a very public, very childish argument on Facebook. With someone I don’t even know. I’m not going to lie… this has not been my proudest moment.
It all began the way so many social networking arguments begin: I commented on someone else’s post about something I’m very passionate about. Someone who is equally as passionate from the exact opposite position made a snide comment in return. And from there you can imagine how quickly it devolved.
The only part of the whole incident I am proud of is that when I chose to disengage from the argument, I was able to do so completely. Although the person hastily posted several more comments after I announced I was ending the conversation, I refused to even read themor be drawn back in. It’s really the only way to avoid the sort of ugliness Facebook can bring out in us.
But as I sat in my office, trying to center my heart and mind on Christ and to bring myself back to a better place of existence, I found myself wishing I could disengage from the sort of negative emotions that momentary lapses of judgment and character bring us.
And then, I thought about my cat.
I know… that’s an odd thing to think about when you’re trying to come down off the unsettling and unpleasant high of an emotional argument and find a place of calm and peace. A cat?
But the image that popped into my mind wasn’t just any random image of my cat, it was of the picture above.
This picture was taken shortly after I moved from Welch to Rivesville. The move was traumatic on my cat, Callie, as all moves are on all cats. She nervously explored every inch of our new house, crying and whining and searching for some sort of familiarity only to be met time and time again with strangeness.
But then she found the window behind the couch in the living room. It’s nice and big. The window sill is wide enough for her to sit or lay on, but the couch is also close enough that she can climb on the back and chill on something soft. In the afternoons, the sun shines through that window. If you have ever shared your life with a cat, you know the simple pleasure that a cat derives from a ray of sunshine.
So it became a daily ritual. As she nervously tried to make the new home hers and as she sought out her new favorite hiding places and napping places, she claimed this window as hers.
Every afternoon, when the sun would begin to shine into the window, Callie would climb on top of the couch and just sit there, eyes closed, absorbing the light.
In a world that had just been turned upside down, where nothing was the same, she came to rely on that sun to be the connection to the world she needed. Her days were filled with unsettling new sights and sounds and smells. It did not help that there were several stray cats that floated around the neighborhood, threatening her attempt to claim a new territory. And there was the chaos that was going on all around her with her person unpacking boxes and meeting new people.
But every afternoon, that sun would be there. And she would find a calm place to be, for a moment, to remember that what was really important was still there.
Now, as I find my nerves calming and my sense of self returning to normal, I find myself wishing I could meditate the way my cat does.
And maybe that should be my goal in the days ahead. When all the emotional mumbo-jumbo of the day erupts around me and conversations (and arguments, mature or childish) drag me away from that Christ center I so desperately want in my life, I need to step away from the topsy-turvy world and find that place of calm that lets me focus on what is really important.
So, then… if I want to meditate like my cat, how is it exactly that cats meditate? I have been pondering that ever since that image of Callie popped into my head and this is what I’ve come up with:
- Dedication–It doesn’ matter what’s going on in a cat’s life, she will find a moment to soak in the sun’s rays and to grab that much-needed moment of motionless silence. They don’t let the world tell them when to meditate, they tell the world when they will do it.
- Connectedness–Cats like to find places where they are able to watch the world. Sometimes our instinct is to get away–to go and hide in a shut-up room, but cats don’t do that. They like to know that they are safe. You won’t find a cat meditating in Times Square. But give them a window that overlooks Times Square with a good, healthy dose of sunshine, and they’ll be there. They like that connection to the world. *
- Privacy–Just because cats like to be in a place that gives them a good view on the world doesn’t mean they don’t treasure their privacy. Let’s face facts, cats are notoriously private. So they like to find a place that allows them some semblance of privacy while at the same time allows them to be in harmony with the world around them. Right off the bat, I think of my front porch–its private enough that no one would disturb me, but there is a good view of the world, and the Monongahela River.
- Comfort–Callie likes to sit up when she takes her daily dose of the sun. But she likes to be comfortable. So, even though she often spends time in the window, she saves her meditation sessions for the back of the couch, where there is more cushion and more space to find the perfect position to face the sun.
- No Rushing–And she doesn’t like to be rushed. In fact, if I try to get her to move during one of her sessions, I have to physically pick her up and move her. That’s her time, and she doesn’t dump it for anyone or anything. Food, catnip, all the wiggling strings in the world, won’t pry her way.
(*Connecting with the world means we have to disconnect from the digital world. Considering today’s events began because I was overly connected in that regard, I can’t help but think connecting to the world is the most important step.)