Feed The Crying Cat

Is there a difference between night and day? Where does one end and the other begin. When the sky grows dark I begin to wind-in my energies and exertions, wind-down my sense of duty, and gradually move towards a state of relaxation and hopefully sound sleep. I wake before the light in the sky has returned, but at at a time that we can call ‘day’.

In the dark I manoeuvre, doing those things that will help me to feel better, more ‘normal’ as sleep seems to have cast a heavy cloak that covers me outside and in. Gradually, I shake it off by eating, drinking, exercising. In my new home, some glass doors open onto a little terrace and yard. Over the wall of the yard I can see a street lamp. I don’t think I have ever seen it switch on, but I see it go off sometimes, heralding the official arrival of daylight.

Inside the yard the neighbours upstairs have roughly hung a stream of coloured light bulbs. Because the switch for their socket is in my terrace I have become responsible for switching them on when it gets dark – they really cheer-up the yard – then I switch them off again before I go to bed, and switch them on again through the dark early morning, brightening things up for that difficult time between waking and the day really beginning. Whenever I go out to switch the lights on or off, I experience a tiny burst of weather, fresh air, sometimes rain and usually cold. It’s a pleasure of a kind. This morning going out to switch on the lights, I felt like a monk, as if my new home is a temple, as if turning the lights on and off is my monastic duty, my contribution to the community of the ‘temple’ – like fetching wood, or water, or sweeping. I suppose the temple life is still an ideal for me and perhaps for many others.

We strive and toil, against all those odds outside us and all those odds inside us, all those odds and obstacles close and far; we strive and toil to achieve worldly success and recognition, and yet, anyone who has witnessed the calm rhythms of temple life might also feel, deep inside, that the apparent absence of desire found there, the humble and noble reconciliation with the relative importance of daily ordinary acts, is something with which worldly achievements simply cannot compete.

Perhaps we are embroiled in Maya to an extent that it is impossible for us to escape or transcend, and we are resigned, more or less ironically to being bound to fail, both in our particular ambitions and as human beings. And yet, the model of the monk or nun and the temple, the attention to small daily, routines and rituals, can, and does, I think, assist us at least, reminding us that, whatever our worldly dreams might dangle before our eyes, creating conflict between our best and worst mind, it is these simple and necessary daily routines and rituals that in the end make us who and what we are. Remembering to create balance by seeing them as of equal importance to any other aspiration in our lives is very important. Simply maintaining them is most important of all. As I write this, one of the neighbours upstairs descends the metal staircase into the yard, and – as they always do at about this time every day – feeds a crying cat.


One thought on “Feed The Crying Cat

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s