You know, I get offended easily over the complete and utter overuse of two terms: "Surreal" and "Zen."
Both these terms used to mean so very much. They were rich and full and meaningful in their own right. Now, you can find those words on everything from full colour car ads in magazines down to perfume bottles, and in almost every case the item in question has nothing to do with it's namesake.
So. Surreal is for later. Today is Zen.
"Zen" in it's simplest form is living in The Now. All the time. Thoughts dwell in the immediacy of your breathing, in the current, without wandering into the past or trying to see into the future. You simply live every second. Harder than it sounds.
Cats are an embodiment of a simpler kind of Zen. Cats live in the present all the time. For them there is no future, there is no past, there is simply the Eternal Now. They don't worry about making the mortgage payment next month, nor do they worry about what effect their poor kittenhood is having on them now. They live in the Now.
And it was this morning that I found myself given a lesson from my kitty in Zen. I was seated on the throne, oblivious to Fiona playing beside me in the tub. The blue plaid curtain was drawn, and I guess I heard in some background way the scrabbling and scratching of her claws on the porcelain, but I was elsewhere, mentally.
All that came to a halt when I, again unknowingly, rested my right knee against the side of the tub, making a small dent in the curtain. Fiona took note of this dent and immediately leapt to the tub ledge and clamped an entire set of very sharp claws around my knee.
Now. The immediate reaction of my howling Caveman hindbrain was to pull away as fast as possible, knowing full well that the only answer was to get away from the pain instantly. My forebrain, the cold, calculating Librarian cut off that impulse instantly, knowing full well that if I were to pull back suddenly this would only trigger Fiona's tiny, madly-whirling squirrel-crazy brain to clamp down on the claws and perhaps add her mouth-full of razor-sharp teeth to the fray because The Prey was escaping.
So there I sat, balanced on a razor. I felt like I had just put my foot in one of those gruesome, steel toothy traps that furriers use for vermin. If I struggled, blood was sure to flow, but as long as I stayed still I was still in danger.
And that was the moment. There was the sharp rap of the Master's rataan cane on my shoulders, jarring me into a new mode of thinking. I was living in the Now. THIS was Zen. The sound of one paw clapping.
And then Fiona, getting bored with prey that didn't wiggle, struggle, or otherwise try to defend itself, let go and settled to the bottom of the tub with a quiet "plunk" of feet on white porcelain-covered steel, and my Moment of Perfect Beauty was gone, and I was again tossed back into the stormy seas of living all around the Now.