Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I have 3 fish who try to convince everyone I don't feed them, a disgruntled and overweight cat, and a small flock of 150 birds who can recognize me from three blocks away and mug me for cooked rice...and would appear that I have kittens.

On Sunday, at 7pm, Dragon Mountain looked like this:


I had been steadily trying to take down a section of wall to expand the main practice room, but not only were there live wires in the wall but I also made the slightly moronic decision to buy what can only be described as a Tinkerbelle saw. In my defense, it has been very well made and comes with lots of fabulous attachments I can use for my other projects. By day 4, however, I realized its 3 inch half-moon vibrating wall blade would have me still cutting the wall out in spring.

So I called a friend and got a honking righteous circular saw and whipped that wall down in no time. It still took several hours because I had to carefully break it down in sections and shift the wires out of the way, but by 7pm it was down.

Feeling rather self-congratulatory and with my ears still buzzing (after the first 20 minutes I stopped for a break and realized I couldn't see the fish through the sawdust in the water and the cat and I were wheezing so I got a mask and was wearing glasses and gloves but had no ear plugs), I went outside for a well-earned coffee and a pipe before beginning the job of cleaning. 

Remember, it looked like this:

My morning meditation starts at 6am so somehow, all of that had to be made right.

I stood outside in the bracing chill and smoked my pipe for a bit before noticing that several eyes were upon me. There was a small family of cats - two adults and 3 kittens - outside poking around. One of the kittens got curious about the white of the rice that the birds hadn't finished on the ground and went over to it. On discovering it was food, that kitten all but ate the pavement.

The others came over and joined in, although the adults hid in the bush. I resisted my impulse for a minute and then went inside to get them food and water. I have noticed that my disgruntled fat cat never bats an eye if I take some of her food outside, but try to walk out the door with a treat and she is on it.
I came out with two platters and set them down. It took about 2 seconds for the kittens to race to the food, the adults hung back for a bit and watched before eating. I smoked and thought, and smoked and thought until the platters were clean and they started playing.

There is an art and balance to giving. I wish I could tell you what it is. If you had asked me last year, I could have pontificated on the subject. Now, I know there are no rules except to give without thinking. That means if you have to think about it for any reason, don't do it because you may be taking things from yourself that you don't have to spare.

Those things may not be material or money; it could simply be that you aren't in the space to offer compassion and charity. That sounds like an awful thing to say and goes against the concept of "faking it till you make it" but underlying intention is what gives a gift the power that it can have. We don't talk much anymore about how influential our intentions and motivations are, but the wrong one in the right place can turn a good thing cancerous.

Someone at MCHA/OASIS asked me the other day how they could handle giving. This is someone on SSI and very limited means, and they felt bad when they couldn't give and then felt worse when they gave and people told them they shouldn't. I told them that they should only give when they knew they could bear the pain of giving.

Too often we think just because someone has something we don't that we are entitled to their charity and we receive help like it is our right. It isn't a right, it is a relationship of support and respect between the giver and receiver that acknowledges that suffering caused by both giving and need.

The kittens should be trapped and brought to a shelter, but they are hungry now. The kittens should be trapped and brought to a shelter, but they are also a part of a feral community of cats who tend to do just fine. There is quite a difference between an abandoned domesticated animal and a wild one, we forget that. Like the birds, a gift of food is appreciated, but not expected. If it doesn't appear, they go somewhere else. They may be hungry in the getting to, but should things work out they will get there.

By 6am, the main room was ready.

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