Friday, October 30, 2009
During a wind storm a few days ago, it became apparent that cats have no memory. This is the sixth autumn for our schizophrenic feline, in theory she should be well versed in the New England leave drop. Each fall though, the experience dawns new for her.
When not attacking our ankles, Winkie the cat princess languishes on the back of the family room sofa gazing out the picture window to her dream kingdom outside. These days, she’s blasé about the squirrels and chipmunks. She lifts one eyebrow, gives them a “You shan't get a rise out of me” look, and then lowers her head with a sigh. For a bird, she’ll sit up, lean at the glass and emit little “chut, chut, chut”—even when I’m not looking at her I know she’s watching her imaginary lunch, but soon, she’ll hunker back down. At the first sign of falling leaves though, she gives up her regal detachment and regresses to kittyland again.
Imagine hundreds of wind driven leaves, blowing, circling, spinning, and a white spotted ball of fur diving and grasping at every single one of them—from the inside—an eleven pound mass of leaping dunk shot, crashing into glass—repeatedly. For a while, she’ll stop and sit at attention, a coiled spring, tail swishing, drilling her focus from one leaf to another, until she leaps back on two feet and this explosion of leaf chasing begins again. After a full morning of window thumping the other day, worn out myself, I escorted her to the welcoming darkness of the basement, where she could get some well deserved rest.
It’s the same thing each October. When I wondered why, if not year-to-year then at least through repetitive window bonking, she doesn’t learn that there is a wall between her and the leaves—someone better versed in animals clued me in. Cats live in the moment. So for our Winkie, the previous five autumns never happened. There is only the here and now.
A fascinating concept, living in the moment. For example, if I take this exact instant, the one that I am sitting in right now, here’s what I would react to: I’m hungry. I made cinnamon toast as a treat for my daughter this morning and indulged instead of my normal oatmeal. It’s not sticking with me. On top of that, it's cold. The thermostat has dropped to its scheduled low; I may need to tweak it. Having woken at 4:30 this morning, apparently for the day, I’m sleepy. Add this together and if I were a cat right now, I’d wander over to the pantry cupboard for a snack, jack up the heat, grab a down comforter and head off for a snooze.
Living in the moment would mean I could forget my trip to the post office, the bank, the library, and the need to pick up my daughter this afternoon, our hair cuts scheduled for later. The laundry downstairs would remain unfolded. There would be no call for me to get out and clean up the gardens, to plan for what will appear on the table for dinner. This post for Middle Passage? Nonexistent. No worry about the future, the mortgage, insurance or whether a fledgling writing business will help support them. The draft of my website I’m waiting for—oh, whatever. A Thanksgiving menu for twenty something? Not an issue. Report cards and looming college applications would exist in some other dimension. With no future, there would be no “what ifs,” with no past, no “if onlys.”
Just a couch, a quilt and a full belly. Oh, and I suppose a compelling need to take a swipe at that yellow leaf, swirling down from the grey autumn sky.
If you were living in the now, what would your moment look like?