Ensconced on the couch, the cat hears a bird singing outside the window. Once, she would have pressed her face against the screen, imagining a great chase. Now she listens, content to let the birds sing into the fading sun.
We are in the season of stasis where nothing wants to move and nothing should shed the mantle of snow that has announced winter’s arrival in terms we full understand, as do the finches clinging to the feeder casting nervous glances skyward. The neighbor’s cat has decided that the remote chance of catching a bird or squirrel is easily outweighed by the warmth of the house, and even the dogs down the block have found their own lawns much more to their liking. We know our feet will thaw after our morning walks, but suspect this may happen only with the Spring that seems impossibly far away, and so we imagine ourselves bulbs, clinging to what warmth the earth offers knowing the bloom has infinite patience.
Walking down this road I would like to see a rice field golden in the morning sun with a great mountain rising behind it just around the next bend. I would settle for a town its lone Temple quiet, awaiting the morning bell, the call to sit, with maybe a cat at the base of a statue the Bodhisattva. I am ready to bow deeply to the first monk I see this day, but my reverie is broken by the barely dodged wave thrown up by city bus running late and fast down the crowded street of this upstate New York city.
This morning, as I do most mornings, I took my paints and painted the sky blue. Today for some reason, I opted for Cornflower, it seemed to fit my mood and the neighbors cat, after considering it for a few moments seemed to agree with my choice, though she suggested tomorrow might be better served by either Carolina Blue or Iceberg, but if I don’t sleep all that well tonight, I suspect I will just go with Cool Gray. The Cardinal says anything darker than Dark Pastel blues is unacceptable since it takes away from his beauty, but that vanity aside, it takes too long to sweep aside the clouds to do the second coat the brighter blues all demand.
If you ask me whether a dog has buddha nature I will stare back at you in total silence. If you ask again, or implore an answer I will smile at you, offer gassho and a bow. If you ask yet again, I will turn away and you will be left with a box into which you dare not look lest you find Schroedinger’s cat.
Each morning, as he went out on his walk, he would check the street light pole just down his block. He would carefully read the missing cat and dog posters, pause to think whether he might have seen any of the missing animals. He often wondered how many had been found, the missing notices left to fade in the sun and peel away after enough rain. He knew that some had found new homes, wondered briefly what they might have been escaping, hiding out from their owners. And each morning he scanned the pole to see if anyone had reported him missing, but he was the sort of person no one missed, he knew, and so he continued on his walk.
In many ways thoughts are very much like cats. By that I mean that they are known to wander in and stay as long as they like and never a moment longer. If you feed or stroke them they may linger, but please rest assured that if you really want them to stay, try though you might, they will find an open window or door and be gone the next time you look.