During my quiet time this morning, sitting in a favourite chair and looking at the tree outside my window with its falling autumnal orange leaves, I watched a squirrel running up and down its branches, jumping from one to another, before descending to explore the leaves on the ground of my neighbour's patio. Next I noticed the speed of tiny birds, also on a mission, and then a crow sitting on the top of an adjacent extremely tall cedar, surveying its world before flying off on another adventure. Each brought to mind words by the late Joseph Campbell: The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
My companion over the past 11 years, my 3-legged calico cat, Cadi, like the squirrel, tiny birds and crow, knew who she was, and how to be focused in the moment, including being the boss of me! I had adopted her after she was left at the SPCA, a bit bedraggled and about to have kittens. Our life together was a memorable adventure and definitely a learning experience, as she became one of my many teachers, especially with her bravery, never letting her shorter hind leg compromise her agility. Between the two of us we had four good legs, but she was definitely braver, and faster! Cadi knew how to get on with her day - when to eat, sleep, be active, focus on the goings-on outside her window, relax on a sunny spot on the carpet, and contentedly purr during our nighttime brushings. Sadly, over the past few months she had lost weight, her health and quality of life diminished, and recent tests indicated advanced diabetes. So we took our last journey together two weeks ago, when she was euthanized with dignity by her caring veterinarian. She is featured on the Memorial Bridge of Until We Meet Again, where she was cremated by also caring people.
The Japanese word, 'ikigai' (ee-kee-guy) means having a reason for being, to get up in the morning, loving what we do, be it a hobby, vocation or a mission, where we create special memories and experiences. Yet, there are times when we become overwhelmed with challenges due to health, life's changes, and so perhaps lose sight of our reason for being. It can take a brave act of courage, and being kind to ourselves to reach out to another for support, conversation, a warm cup of tea, a caring listener. But, equally, it also takes discernment to know when we need to draw in and be with ourselves for a time. Our wisdom is in knowing, and acting on when to do each. The American writer and artist, Brian Andreas, is often quoted as saying: There are days I drop words of comfort on myself, like falling leaves, and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by myself.
A wise teacher, and former client, gave me sage advice many years ago, which I have heeded - to create special memories through what I did, so that when I needed their comfort I could turn the pages of my 'Memory Book'. Just like the wildlife friends that I observed this morning, Nature is a wonderful teacher, flowing from one season to the next, with trees dropping their leaves to nurture new growth for the coming springtime. My many teachers over the years have been vast and varied, as are the lessons learned ... 'though, truth to tell, I still need to apply some of Cadi's wisdom, not the least being her bravery!
As our evenings get dark sooner, make yourself a warm cup of tea, or pour a glass of wine, and reflect on your many teachers ... and, if you choose, share their wisdom with a friend.
Until very soon, blessèd be to you ... Namasté!
Rev. Dorothy Blandford, Ph.D
Apt. 202 - 1655 Martin Drive
Surrey, BC, V4A 6E1, Canada