Live and Let Go

Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, says, "I have lived with several zen masters...all of them cats." I too am blessed to live with such masters; in fact, I am possessed of three. One, a beautiful white short-hair cat named Mindy (yes, I am crazy enough to name cats after living family members) taught me a valuable lesson today.

Mindy is the little darling of all my three felines. Danny (O'Flannigan) and Alexis (aka Gatita, Spanish for "little kitty girl") hunt, fight, and terrorize the raccoons that populate my deck each night in hopes of food. In general, they are treated as if they were animals. Not so, Mindy. I know better. Mindy is my "spiritual" kitty-my "Angel of Cuteness."

Once, when I was sick, congested, and barely able to breathe, Mindy came and lay on my chest, folded her little paws around my hand, and slept on me for over an hour, purring. By the time she left, I was able to breathe. Ever since then, I have always been careful to keep her inside so that I could dote on her.

Earlier this summer, I opened the glass door to my back porch deck to set out food for the raccoons-the usual dollar store dog food, leftovers, old girl scout cookies; I forget which. Mindy darted outside, and refused to come back when I called. At the same time, she wouldn't stray beyond the edge of the deck. I thought of chasing her down. Then I saw that she got so much pleasure from lying on her backside in the sun, I just couldn't bear to end the moment.

For the last three months since then, Mindy has greeted me each morning, and walked me to the back door. If I don't follow her, she returns and catches my eye, until she brings me to her goal and I obediently open the door to her kitty freedom.

Over the course of this brief summer, I have often looked out to see her lying on her back, paws bent, gazing into the firmament in what can only be described as ecstasy. How could I end this nirvana, when it's obvious that she has already reached the state of peace I long for myself? So I let her stay.

Up to now, I thought all she did was lie there in an alpha state. Then today, I looked out the kitchen window to check the apple pile for evidence of deer. To my amazement, there on the porch was little Mindy with a mouse dangling from her mouth! I thought to myself: "I never taught her to hunt. I've had her since she was a few weeks old! How can she know?" I did not understand that Mindy's real Teacher was already there; deep inside her kitty soul, guiding her to be the Jungle Kitty she was born to be.

Meanwhile, my beloved son Alex returned to school, after having the summer off. This is his last year at the University of Michigan, and so I decided it would be good for him to begin paying his own expenses, instead of depending on me. Alex is another of my "little darlings," and it has always been my goal to make sure everything is OK for him. So, despite my "tough love" policy, I offered him a job as the courier for my law firm. This was my clever way of making sure that his financial needs were met, even while I was telling myself that he was making it without my aid.

I didn't hear much from Alex after he went back to school. When he lost his cell phone and the loan check for his tuition failed to arrive, I began to worry. Despite the fact that he hadn't come back to do our process serving, I felt compelled to call him to make sure he was all right.

To my surprise, he was fine. Although he decided to "pass" on the job I offered him, he was in fact working two jobs in addition to the engineering curriculum he is taking. And he did not ask me for a thing. I was amazed! Then I remembered a wise saying that an old friend had once shared with me: "For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the Universe."

How many times have I jumped in to fix a nonexistent problem? The instances are probably too numerous to count. The lesson I learned from my zen kitty, and my self reliant son, is that most things in Nature perform according to their design, if we can stop meddling and just let them be who they are. In fact, they usually perform much better without our assistance.

How encouraging it is to remember that there is an ebb and flow to life, and that I am simply a part of it, not the source. The more we learn to trust that all truly is well in our world, the more we will see how well everything works.

The truth is, the are lots of things that I can do to work on myself, without trying to "protect" a cat that doesn't need it, or solve the problems of a bright, handsome, resourceful young man who clearly is no longer "my baby." And I do them both a favor by realizing it. In fact, the thought occurs to me that this may be my way of avoiding the work I need to do on myself; by spending my time "fixing" someone else.

How about you? Are you spending your time worrying about others who don't need your help, so you can avoid dealing with your own problems that you really need to solve? Ask the question, and be willing to hear the answer. It will come.

And then trust, and realize that you are just as capable as any other part of Nature to do what you need to do, easily, naturally, and without any strain whatsoever. You are totally adequate for all situations. You were built that way. And so it is.

Mindy L. Hitchcock