Learning from Cats with the Teachable Spirit

» Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in teachable spirit | 0 comments

Learning from Cats with the Teachable Spirit

Remaining open to potential learning opportunities allows the teachable spirit to learn from any source.

Pets provide an abundance of joy through their presence, antics, and need of our nurturing. Recently, a friend loaned me a book entitled, Everything I Know About Life I Learned from My Cat, by Hope Lyda, with incredibly gorgeous paintings by Lesley Anne Ivory. Enjoying the exquisite art and lovely idioms about cats, I also encountered delightful epiphanies, such as the following:

  • The Best Gifts in Life Are Relationships
  • Never Give Up Hope
  • Personal Space Is Good
  • Be Careful What You Ask For
  • Ritual Is Important
  • A Life Is as Good as the View
  • Love the One You are With
  • Miracles Can Happen

Experiencing a very close friendship where we just “get” each other has helped me to appreciate relationships from a fresh perspective. On the subject of hope, I appreciate the comment from page 15:

First impressions…with people or cats, can leave something to be desired.

Alexander showing me his face, September 2014.

Alexander showing me his face, September 2014.

But when we invest in one another, hope shows its little face. –Barb S.

Relating to the author about personal space, I too, have felt guilty about my need for quiet and solitude. However, as with cats, I have come to realize that indeed, time alone, time spent in thought, and time in reflection, clears the head and restores the heart, providing the ability to enjoy relationships with renewed gratitude and love.

Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later. –Mary Bly

Natasha and Alexander greet me at the door when I return home from work.

Natasha and Alexander greet me at the door when I return home from work.

Appreciating the insight detailed by a story about Nicky who kept getting stuck between the screen door and the main door because her companion kitty, Murphy, would oblige by opening the screen door for her; the teachable spirit saw the irony of trying to go through what appears to be an open door, but really is not. In our eagerness to achieve our desire, we may sometimes rush forward, only to be caught short by another barrier, instead of waiting for the door to be opened by the one with the key.

Alexander frequently takes this pose; in this case, he is lying over the heater vent.

Alexander frequently takes this pose; in this case, he is lying over the heater vent.

In these days of tension, human beings can learn a great deal about relaxation from watching a cat, who doesn’t just lie down when it is time to rest, but pours his body on the floor and rests in every nerve and muscle. –Murray Robinson

Balking at routine, I nevertheless have come to terms with some essential repeated disciplines in my life, such as yoga, reading the Torah, writing in my journal, and the like; all of which I attempt to maintain on a daily basis. I appreciate that the author has used the term ritual, which she describes on page 27:

One such ritual is the bath, which I caught this cat doing near Leavenworth, WA in June 2014.

One such ritual is the bath, which I caught this cat doing near Leavenworth, WA in June 2014.

Ritual is routine spruced up, elevated to spiritual discipline. Ritual gives a flabby life shape, contours, and content. Ritual feeds us from the inside out and ultimately leads us home. —Hope Lyda

Understanding thoroughly that life is as good as the view, I reflect on my own experience sitting in my office with the gorgeous picture windows and park across the street. As Hope Lyda states,

Recent fall view from my office window, Tacoma, WA, November 2014.

Recent fall view from my office window, Tacoma, WA, November 2014.

What we get from life depends on what we see from where we stand. …when I pay attention to the scene from my existence, many beautiful pieces form the kaleidoscope I call my own. When I want courage, I view the many good life triumphs and experiences in my rearview mirror as well as the promises ahead on the pale pink horizon.

Natasha sits on the arm of the chair next to me as I read and/or write,

Natasha sits on the arm of the chair next to me as I read and/or write, September 2014.

Loving the one you are with is extremely sound advice, bringing to mind that being present in the moment with whomever you are with is the best gift you can give that person–the gift of your presence. Cats are exceptional at delivering this message. My female cat, Natasha, never really wants to sit on my lap, but wherever I am in the house, that’s where she wants to be.

Miracles happen when we follow our heart. The teachable spirit knows that:

Alexander's usual post, stretched out on my lap, September 2014.

Alexander’s usual post, stretched out on my lap, September 2014.

…when we follow those gentle God nudges–the ones that bypass logic and reason and go straight to the heart of things–miracles fill our days. —Hope Lyda

My cats are a constant source of joy and entertainment.

My cats are a constant source of joy and entertainment.

Finishing the grand and glorious 30 year project of helping my daughter find her way in the world stabilized my life while simultaneously leaving a vacancy, which my cats gladly stepped into without reservation. While they had been there all along, their presence became more precious with the greater personal space. Ritual is strictly adhered to now that there is no interference, and life is very good for them. They are definitely attached to me and the teachable spirit continues to see them as small miracles in my life.

Hanging out with Alexander.

Hanging out with Alexander.

Cats love one so much–more than they will allow. But they have so much wisdom they keep it to themselves. –Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

 

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