photo: orin zebest on flickr

What do you do when you’re scared?

Do you freeze?

Do you act tough, so no one will know you’re afraid?

Or do you arch your back and fluff up your tail so it looks like you’re twice as big as you are? And then hiss?

If you picked the last choice, you’re in good company. The Big-Tail-Hiss was the first choice of defense for my cat, Lucy. She didn’t use it very often. But when she did – Watch out, world!

Lucy, as we’ve established in a previous post, was an enlightened master.

photo: z egloff

She didn’t flaunt it. She didn’t have a best-selling book or a cable TV show. But she did live each day with a powerful, conscious awareness.

Which brings me to the Big-Tail-Hiss.

One day, our friends David and Luna paid us a visit. David is an awesome guy. He has a beard and is very friendly.

photo: amy famini

Luna, on the other hand, is more unusual. She is fluffy. She has a big mouth and sharp teeth and a tendency to drool. She barks when she’s stressed out.

photo: david gorchoff

Lucy, as you can imagine, was not very happy with Guest #2.

We tried to warn her. We told her Luna was coming. We suggested she might want to go upstairs and take a nap. Either that, or go outside and find a secure location far from the house.

Lucy wasn’t having it.

Instead, she decided she wanted to climb the Sad Little Trellis on our back patio.

The Sad Little Trellis used to be a sight to behold.

It used to be a regular trellis with beautiful lattice work. Lucy loved to climb up the trellis and prowl around on top.

Then came the termites. And the re-shingling of our house.

This upheaval necessitated the temporary tearing down of the trellis, leaving just two posts and a beam.

photo: z egloff

Lucy, not to be deterred, held on to her attachment to the Sad Little Trellis.

Whenever she could, she would scale up a post and stroll around the single beam like it was a luxury hotel.

This, I might add, was a simple and powerful demonstration of her guru consciousness:

I don’t care if this trellis has been diminished in size and stature. I find it beautiful. Indeed, its beauty matches mine. What a pair we are, this Terrific Trellis and I. How magnificent! How majestic! Behold us and marvel!

So even though we told Lucy that the Guest was coming, even though we explained that the Guest would be hanging out on the back patio, Lucy insisted on climbing up the Sad Little Trellis and staying put.

Okay, I said to her. You’re the enlightened master. You know what you’re doing.

photo: wonderlane on flickr

And so the drooling, big-mouthed, sharp-toothed Guest made her entrance on the back patio.

Lucy balked. She growled. She attempted multiple versions of the Big-Tail-Hiss. All from her elevated position on the Sad Little Trellis.

The sharp-toothed Guest was immune. She saw a cat. She wanted to play.

Did the Guest’s version of “play” involve taking Lucy in her mouth and tossing her around a bit?


But Lucy was stuck. And the Guest seemed content to torture her from the foot of the trellis. David, Melissa, and I assumed it was a standoff and went into the house.

David, the keeper of the sharp-toothed Guest, made several trips to the patio, just to see how things were unfolding.

On his second-to-last trip, he noticed that the Sharp-Toothed One was now standing on this chair:

photo: z egloff

The chair, located at the foot of the Sad Little Trellis, provided free and easy access to the Guru. At least, potentially.

David reported that the Guru seemed to be taking it quite well. Given her elevated consciousness, this did not surprise us.

That is, until David’s next visit to the patio.

At this visit, he noticed that the Guru was no longer on the Sad Little Trellis.

Had she jumped onto the patio and scurried into the house through her cat door?


Had she slid down the post of the trellis and into the jaws of the sharp-toothed one?


It was something much, much better:

The Guru was now on the neighbor’s roof.

To spell it out, here’s a shot of the neighbor’s roof in relation to the Sad Little Trellis.

photo: z egloff

How on earth did the Guru get from the trellis to the roof?

At first we thought she must have leapt there. One of those magical leaps that are possible only when the leaper is under great duress. Like those people who lift two-thousand-pound automobiles to save their loved ones.

Then we realized that it was probably not one, but two leaps.

One leap down onto this trash can and grill

photo: z egloff

and another leap up onto this fence and roof.

photo: z egloff

Not quite as impressive as one gigantic leap, but still extraordinary. Still, against all odds, getting herself over to the neighbor’s roof.

Did the Guru say a prayer before leaping? Did she invoke the aid of invisible helpers? I have no idea.

All I know is that the Guru decided it was time to leave.

And when the Guru decides to do something, there’s no stopping her.

It made me think of all those times I feel scared and stuck. How often do I become immobilized? How often do I rationalize my need to stay in a less-than-groovy situation? How often do I worry about what others will think if I leave?

Did the Guru worry about any of this?

I think not.

The Guru did what she had to do and fought her way to freedom. She took a chance and – thanks to adrenaline, the Gods, and hard-core leaping ability – she liberated herself from the sharp-toothed Guest.

There are many reasons why Lucy was my Guru, and this episode just sealed the deal.

photo: z egloff

Let’s review what she taught us:

1. When life presents you with diminished circumstances (à la the Sad Little Trellis), embrace them.

2. When life presents you with unwanted Guests, make no sudden moves.

3. When life presents you with a way out of an unwanted situation, take it. Even if it means a few giant leaps.

photo: nicki varkevisser on flickr

What are your examples of lessons 1, 2 or 3? Do tell!


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