For those of you who want nothing more than to look at pictures of my lovely boys, as they enjoy moments of increasing harmony – for those of you who would prefer to skip the Jewish angst that’s also been going down around here – I’m thinking of you. Pictures first.
I’m also glad to start this way because I want, just as much as you do, to enjoy their beauty.
For those of you who are interested in my own rather less-than-beautiful process of working through angst, I follow with words about that. But first – pictures of harmony.
Can’t you just feel that?
Given and received.
Light and shadow. Bugs’s inner tabby emerges.
Bugs is OK enough with this to let it be.
I missed the shot I really wanted – of Barney politely curled up nearby, simply watching Bugs play with the treat-toy. When I got up to try the shot, Barney retreated to the door. Still. Let this stand for the principle that Barney has great dignity and, in that dignity, he is learning to let Bugsy have his space.
Now here’s where things go – well, a bit pear-shaped.
Despite all the pictorial evidence above, I have felt myself becoming increasingly stressed – even despite Bugsy’s clean bill of health at the vet’s in last Friday’s thunderstorm. From time to time over the weekend the boys still fought tooth and claw, and I found myself less and less able to tolerate it.
This past Tuesday, at my monthly women’s meeting, my women helped me find the first insight. We were discussing a person we all have found extremely challenging. I realized that that person and I share the exact same issue: We both have become convinced, via harsh life-experiences we endured early on, when we lacked the ability and resources to cope with that harshness in a mature fashion, that the only way we’re going to be understood is if we demand that understanding from others.
Because we have had essentially no faith that we’re going to get that understanding unless we fight to the death for it, fight we do. We will go to the mat to make demands of others. Unfortunately, with that kind of attitude, absence of understanding from others is almost guaranteed. That is not the way to ask for understanding, such that others are disposed to give it freely and authentically.
An additional problem she and I apparently share is that we both have forgotten that while others’ support and encouragement is absolutely vital to one’s own well-being, the essential first step is that we ourselves recognize our own job: To reach an understanding of ourselves.
That is very difficult to do, when one’s in such pain one’s acting in a way that others don’t enjoy and don’t respond well to.
This meeting I’m talking about occurred at the home of my friend with whom I left Fangie’s bed, as, last month, my women helped me transition through the overwhelming grief close in time to Fangie’s death.
At the time a reader of this blog wondered why I would leave Fangie’s bed there. I wasn’t sure, at the time. It just felt right.
Now I know why. This meeting I felt a bit of Fangie’s spirit watching over us, as we worked through this difficult material. Here is what Fangie’s bed looks like, on the top shelf there:
Cheerful. Warm. Jazzy. Alive.
And Fangie was a part of this insight because I recalled how, demand as I might when Fangie lay dying, my demand would not be granted: That Fangie stay with us.
My friend Kim said it, later on the phone: Death requires the ultimate yielding. With death, demands cut no ice. Death prevails, demand or no.
The next insight I got is also thanks to Kim. In her compassionate cat-savvy presence, I came to understand that I was in great pain, I could not stand, watching Bugsy grieve. I could not stand not knowing how he was grieving and what I could possibly do to reach him – when he was acting in a way I found disconnecting, walking away from me, crying in that pitiful voice, declining all my attempts to play or even just to sit together with him.
And the worst was the fighting.
I have come to love Barney so much – his calm openness, his affectionate nature, his dignity, and the air of wisdom he conveys. But Bugsy was, from time to time, having none of it. Bugsy was either punching Barney around in a tetchy snotty domineering fashion – or he was ill-temperedly punching away Barney’s attempts to play with him.
I simply could not stand watching that. I could not help feeling angry that Barney so doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment, that Bugsy is such a “problem boy,” and that no matter what I do with him, it just doesn’t seem to measure up.
Needless to say, the insight to be got here: This is my problem. Not Bugsy’s.
I got that, in conversation with Kim. And lord knows the very last thing I want to be doing is adding to Bugsy’s discomfort.
So after, this morning, I‘m so glad to say I feel nothing but quiet affection for Bugs, and the clear and sincere hope that, with time, he will come to feel more comfortable.
So this morning, at this moment at least, I have stopped contributing to the angst around here. And needless to say, this morning Bugsy appears to be in a much-eased state of mind.
Quiet reigns. I can get some work done. I can stop to take in the incredible early fall weather we’re having here.
I can be at peace. Barney’s advice is taking hold.
Hey Barnes. Once more, with feeling:
This inner peace. With practice, Grasshopper, it can be yours, too.