That’d be Freud, asking: What do women want?
As if, whatever it is, it wouldn’t make any sense.
As if being blamed, for five thousand years, for getting us booted out of the Garden isn’t enough to make anyone nuts.
I want to ask this question – really ask it – of everything, of everybody, in the natural world: What do you want? What makes you smile? What makes you nuts? What do you need?
Who are you?
It’s not all that easy to know. After five thousand years of being told.
Cats’ nose-pads are supposed to be like human fingerprints: The ridge on each nose is unique. No two the same.
So what I want to know is: Bugs, what’s your nosepad say about you?
I heard this, from a cognitive scientist on my favorite brain-science podcast: “All cats care about is food.”
I want to ask this guy: If I told you that when Bugs first showed up, he was a wild street-baby thug – demanding what he wanted by tooth and bloody claw –
And now he’s asking, more and more, with pawpad-taps and gentle mouthings –
And he learned how to modulate his conduct like that – how? To get food?
He got food regardless. So how?
I myself wouldn’t presume to say.
But much of what I want to do, with Bugs, is to ask that question: Who, Bugs, are you?
How much of what I think I know about you is really about you? and not about me?
That’s what Teresa and I are asking Bugs, with Tellington Touch-work: Bugs, can you feel yourself? When you move, are you aware of yourself?
When we first began, the answer was more like five thousand years of frenzy.
Is he growing up now? Mellowing with age? Sure. He’s also learning.
But why should he learn, if all he cares about is food?
You want to know what makes me nuts? That kind of reductionism. The kind that says more about the cognitive scientist’s lack of insight into his own preconceptions than it does about cats.
Who is Bugs?
He is content, minding himself.
And then he’s not that. Not that, a lot.
You want to know what makes me happy?
The infinite variation of the unique. That we are always ourselves. And yet, we can always grow, become bigger. More expansive, tolerant, inclusive.
We are like fractals.
Fractals are shapes that have the same structure regardless of scale. You see them in satellite pictures of coastlines. In vein-structures of leaves. In cauliflower and broccoli.
Yvan says, “Every part is similar to the whole, and the whole contains the structure of all its parts.”
So, in answer to the question “who are you?,” Yvan says:
“You are identical to yourself. You’re generating your behavior with more or less the same strategies. So there are little variations. But you’re never lost, because it’s always the same pattern. But you’re never bored, because the pattern never presents itself in the same way.”
And by introducing small variations of movement with FELDENKRAIS, for example, with awareness of breath, Yvan again: “The first thing you know, you’re playing tennis differently. Or you start interpreting your Prokofiev piano piece differently. And you wonder why? Because you’ve expanded the way you breathe in a certain way, and the way you breathe is the way you breathe the music. And it’s the way you breathe your relationships.”
So that’s what this blog is about, too. It’s about the same structure, with variations. It’s about what we say to each other, in our own little corner of this great Internet Sandbox. It’s about speaking our own variations into the fractal pattern of what we all go through, living with our animal companions. And then it’s about listening to what our friends contribute back, in response.
Here we get to fool with aristocratic craziness like balsamic reductions for our little feline infantes. We get to connect with each other across vast distances. A Northern European transplanted to Brazil. The “anipal” community writing about, fundraising for, earthquakes on the other side of the world. What it’s like to celebrate and to grieve, together, gains and losses large and small. Thanking a blog-friend for being a reassuring presence – when that’s not how she experiences herself. And when seeing herself like that brings her a feeling of awe.
These may be modest examples of care and communion with each other –
But, to me, they are movement. They are variations. They are manageable moments of welcoming-in the wide scary world out there. Ways in which to connect with the feeling of life, feeling for each other, and with that, to grow –
That’s what I want.