It’s been too long without a picture of His Highness, so let me get that done next.
This was shot back in the day when the weapon of choice was the Weapon of Pink. The Pink Tizzy is still upon us and it will no doubt be further documented soon – as soon as Bean masters the challenge of the new camera. Until then, let this snap stand in.
For those readers who need fewer words and more pictures, do scroll down and enjoy, especially the end. But I’d be sorry if you didn’t come back for more words. I’d really like you to know an important news-flash:
Bugs and Bean have jumped up a notch.
I’m excited. I’d like to share the joy. Here are details.
Background: Bean spent her formative years training in intolerance. She grew up unable to tolerate anything that reminded her of the past. And everything reminded her of the past. So to deal with that dilemma, her strategy of choice was kindness. But of the cringing variety. Fueled, that is, by underlying fear and hatred of oppression, and general overall cluelessness about understanding of self and others.
So Bean spent a lot of years in empathy bootcamp, with her nose rubbed in intolerance’s opposite: Learning. Concentrate of Kindness.
Enter Bugs Street Monster. Hip-hop pants-down –
– and the whole Big Bugs shtick.
But it was Mr. BigBugs StreetMonster for whom Bean fell. Not for the many and various other intolerabilities that rode in on Bugs’s back (and ears and gut and so forth). These intolerabilities fell into two broad categories:
(a) A complete revulsion for the ecosystem hitchhiking in (fleas, mites, worms, upper-respiratory infections, what have you). We grow ‘em big and tall down here in Arkansas. The ecosystem indoors alone is pretty much more than Bean can handle, without adding to it.
And (b) The harm that can befall outside-cats.
No way would Bean expose Bugs to any of that, nor would Bean expose herself vice verse.
So. Call Bugs a mollycoddled, sheltered, pantywaist Mama’s Boy. Call him what you will. Don’t care. Bugs outside, roaming free over the wide range and the purple sage, is just not going to happen.
Research reveals that Bugs’s native male-cat territorial range would ordinarily be between one-half and one mile. This real estate would be populated with several clowders of females and kits. In the case of Bean and Bugs, then, the situation would have to be cut back (ouch) to one Bean, the inside of one small Arkansas cabin, and minus other anatomical appurtenances unnecessary to dwell on for our purposes here. Put that math together –
One big street-steppin’ still-enough-of-a-man-cat —
Plus one traumatized Bean, with a lifelong tendency to err too far on the side of “tolerance” (fear-fueled cringing kindness), and, now added to that, guilt and shame for curtailing Bugs’s life, in such a drastic way, by holding him in(small)doors. As a result, we have Bean unable to find clarity and backbone (boundaries, generous self-care) –
And so no rocket-scientist is needed to foretell that issues are going to arise.
Adding up the positives, though:
Bean’s tremendous faith in, and practice in, and eventually a modicum of skill in, the ability to learn. Plus her faith that the ability to learn is shared by every sentient being with a brain, a face, and parents. I.e., other human beings. And also i.e. cats. (Tell the truth now. Which do you think is more difficult. Getting an old-dog-Bean to learn new tricks? Try it sometime. But not at home alone.) (Or, think it’d be hard to find a way to connect, as rusted-shut Bean, with cats? Cats as willing, sentient, learning beings too? Not the easiest thing in the world either.)
Maybe the hugest plus of all was you. Especially in helping with the latter issue. You who know cats more than I, you who have been so generous with your care and attention and experience and wisdom, your wit and warmth and encouragement.
With all that, here is the news flash from the Bean-Bugs household. It is:
Learning can happen. On both sides.
Three essential learning tools have come into play.
Bean learned through the body-self, with the FELDENKRAIS METHOD: Learning through sensation, through the sensory-motor loop into the cortex of the brain, through exercise of executive brain-functions that go under the rough heading of “choice” and “not-habit” on the physical plane. www.feldenkrais.com And
Bean learned through the emotion-self, through the basal brain-functions like those of the amygdala and limbic system, leading to higher-brain functions like understanding, empathy, and care, of self and by and through and for others. Also leading to the exercise of executive brain-functions that go under the heading of “choice” and “not-habit.” This occurred through therapy and NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION. www.cnvc.org And
Bugs’s learning, on his side, has been furthered by the tremendous grace of Miss Teresa of TELLINGTON TOUCH. http://www.ttouch.com/ And lately, also, Bean has been watching streaming vid of the “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan. Bean must tell you that she is now utterly swamped in admiration and respect for Cesar’s great and magnificent and splendid and fine example too. www.hulu.com/dog-whisperer, www.cesarsway.com
(I mean, come on cat blogosphere. We can have our fun about how inferior dogs are to The Great Cat – but when it comes down to it, we all know that dogs (and that delightful website Pet of The Day also amply demonstrates that horses and hamsters and parrots and gerbils and ferrets and snakes and turtles) are just as much Masterpieces Of The Universe as The Great Cat.)
And we humans are masterpieces, too, of course. Though on a bad day, should you be exposed to too much media of the social or other varieties, you might have difficulty connecting with that.
Do keep in mind that what follows is speculative and, also, that this is an ongoing work in progress. That said, what may have been going on, at Bugs’s end, may have been this:
Bugs, as a sentient being with a face and parents, was born needing relationship with other members of his clowders. To fill that void, Bean was the only sentient being around. But vis-a-vis Bugs, Bean was pretty much an empty sack, as far as self-understanding of her own needs was concerned. She was unable to know, or to communicate, her needs. Was having trouble relating to Bugs.
So Bugs acted like an American tourist in a foreign country. He spoke up. Louder.
Result: Bugs looking pretty frustrated. And Bean bleeding at the end of her tether.
Now, again, with the caveat that this is a work in progress, Bugs and Beans might be on speaking terms. The IAEA, in the form of Teresa of Tellington, is overseeing the drawing-down. The closing of the Red-Weapon silos. Opening negotiations are on-going with the Weapon of Pink, as an alternative strategy.
There are other strategies that are being brought to bear as well. These include the squirt-bottle. That alone is to be celebrated. This morning, after only two mere threatening gestures on Bean’s part, when Bugs wanted to use the claw-on-feet method of announcing his needs, he did so by looking Bean in the eye and tapping her foot, when Bean was already awake. Not by launching at it, hammer and tong, while she slept.
There will, no doubt, be more to say about other specific strategies (and gains and losses, too, no doubt) in future posts. The topic of this post, however, is:
Bean’s Aikido guru used to say: If you know what the question is, you’re eighty percent of the way to answering it.
Moshe Feldenkrais said something like that too. His version was something like “before you make a change to what you want, you must first know what you’re doing.”
Or, per Bean: If you want to learn something, SHUT YOUR GOB. ASK, DON’T TELL.
Just stop, with the argumentation and contradiction and explanation and rationalization and opinionation and justification and theorizing and strategizing and editorializing and look-on-the-bright-side well-meaning sunny-side-of-the-street homilies. Just shut all of that hoo-hah. For a minute or two. Or fifty. QUIET PLEASE!
And I’m not talking about the kind of quiet here I’d call cunning. The kind that sits mute, waits for an opening, and then pounces.
No. I’m talking about STOP, LOOK, LISTEN, and do all that CARE-fully.
That’s to say, devote full and careful attentiveness to the exact, specific, history-driven-into-the-here-and-now dimensions of the thing. The question. The issue.
Here is a first principle, in answering the question, resolving the issue. Here is the sine qua non, without which nothing:
Without care-ful listening, awareness, and understanding, learning, change, and improvement cannot happen.
At least not the kind of learning, change, and improvement I’m talking about. And that is:
Rinse, spin, repeat.
With all that –
Peace, justice, and ecology appear to be on the resurgence in the Bean-Bugs household.
Plus, in the interests of transparency, it must also be admitted that valerian drops are finding their way into Bugs’s water. This is America. If in doubt, turn to pharma.
What the hay. Something’s working over here. Bugs is apparently feeling more self-confident. Here’s the best evidence Bean could come up with, given the challenges with the new camera:
BUGS ACHIEVES A PROMOTION.
So Bean and Bugs are pretty happy. At the moment. And, dear readers, thank you all, so much, for doing your part, each and every one of you, to contribute to this –
Well, it doesn’t seem too much to say –
And to those of you where things haven’t gone so rosy between us –
Here’s a snap of one of my very favorite places in the world: Baja California Sur.
Cactus live there.
Of course, cactus can also do this, like the one just outside my door:
But still. Watch it. They don’t call it “jumping cholla” for nothing.
Spectacular photo of Baja – and check out the other phenomenal ones posted on the wiki – thanks to Gregg M. Erickson of Farwestern Photo