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My Guru Has a Tail, Episode 8: The Quick Change Artist

photo: Celestine Chua on flickr

photo: Celestine Chua on flickr

If you’re anything like me, you love change.

You can’t get enough of it!

Every day, you wake up and pray that the Universe will totally rearrange every aspect of your life so you can feel completely disoriented, discombobulated, and disenfranchised.

HA! As if.

Change is upsetting. It’s disruptive. Yes, it’s often in service of the greater good, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it when it’s happening.

Or do we?

One of the places I’ve learned about how to respond to change in the most advanced and enlightened manner was from my Guru, Lucy.

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

She was always on point.

When the Guru was still on this earthly realm, she underwent a change that had to do with her outdoor habits.

When the Guru first came to live with me, she was able to easily jump this fence that borders our back patio.

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

This meant she could go out and explore, cruise the hood and school the local cats with her sophisticated Guru stylings.

But then the Guru got older. True to the prediction of a pet psychic, the Guru became more and more interested in lounging, and less and less interested in leaping.

To ensure that the Guru could still get around the ‘hood and continue to school the neighborhood cats, we installed some steps on the patio fence. The steps enabled her to heft her Guru body up and over the fence, thus continuing her existing routine.

In time, however, it became clear that the Guru was no longer interested in schooling, and was only interested in scarfing.

The scarfing in question involved some wet kitty food that one of our neighbors leaves out for stray cats.

Upon waking each morning, the Guru would lounge around the house for a while and then sit at her cat door, waiting to grace the back patio with her presence.

Then she would disappear for about five minutes and come back smacking her lips.

She would spend the rest of the day on her kitty bed, happy and content.

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

Even though we weren’t thrilled about the less-than-healthy brand of cat food that the neighbors buy, and even though we marveled at the Guru Girth that expanded by the minute, we continued to allow the Guru to have her morning vice.

After all, what harm could come of it?

What harm, indeed.

It was when the Guru developed a limp – from leaping around on fences and rooftops that were now beyond her capacity as a hefty thirteen-year-old feline – that we finally had to do something

Normally, the Guru would have no interest in pushing her bulky body beyond its capacity and subjecting herself to the trip between our house and the neighbor’s cat food bowl.

But such is the nature of addiction. It pushes you to do things that are, perhaps, not in your best interest.

mm-mm-good done

We had been through this with the Guru in the past, and it wasn’t pretty.

But what to do this time?

Finally, I hit upon a solution:

Remove the steps.

After all, the only reason the Guru was able to make it over to the neighbor’s house in the first place was because of our codependent friendly move to put extra steps on the fence. What would happen if we removed the steps?

I’ll tell you what would happen:

The Guru’s life would be utterly and irrevocably changed.

She reacted to the change in the manner of a sulky teenager. She insisted on spending all of her time on the back patio.

Okay, if you’re not going to let me score drugs at the neighbor’s house, I’m going to hang out on the back patio and smoke cigarettes all day.

In this case, the Guru’s version of smoking cigarettes was to lounge on the back patio.

This took several different forms.

Sitting and sniffing:

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

Crouching on patio chairs:

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

All-purpose patio lounging:

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

And, last but not least, sitting/lying/sleeping in The-Cardboard-Box-That-Started-Out-As-A-Holder-For-Plants-But-Turned-Into-A-Guru-Lounging-Spot-Extraordinaire.

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

The Guru’s old pattern of sleeping in the house all day was a long-forgotten memory. Indeed, after years of sleeping in her kitty bed for twenty-two out of every twenty-four hours, the Guru would now go nowhere near the thing.

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

At night, she insisted on sleeping on our downstairs couch, even though we had, in the past, trained her away from the couch and into her kitty bed.

We tried putting up lots of pillows to deter her from her new-found slumber spot.

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

Although we never caught her in the act, the remaining clumps of cat hair showed us that the Guru was crawling over the pillows and finding a nice cozy spot for herself on top of the heap.

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

Finally, I tried something else. I put a blanket on the couch so that the Guru – and all of her cat hair – would have a special place to sleep. This kept the kitty hair contained to one area and allowed the Guru to have her slumber spot of choice.

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

Throughout all of this, I kept comparing the Guru to a feisty teenager, smoking cigarettes on the back patio and trashing her parent’s couch with her cat hair.

Yes, her limp had totally gone away and her Guru Girth was shrinking by the minute, but she was making us pay for it with her obstinate behavior.

And then, one day, I realized what was actually going on.

The Guru was embracing change.

In an instant, her life was irrevocably altered. No more scarfing the neighbor’s food. No more pushing her body past its limits.

What did the Guru do in the face of irreversible change?

She embraced it.

She said, The patio is my new home. And the downstairs couch. That’s my other new home.

The Guru also adopted other new behaviors in line with her new lifestyle: She started climbing the patio trellis every night and hanging out on the roof of our house. She took to inspecting the bushes in hopes of catching a mouse. She became calmer and more affectionate.

What I was calling adolescent brattiness was actually enlightened ninja repositioning.

You’re gonna completely change my life? Okay. I’m gonna make it work for me.

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

When confronted with change, the Guru did two things:

First, she accepted the reality of the change.

And, second, she changed in order to make the external changes work for her.

I think if every single person on the planet followed the Guru’s reaction to changing circumstances, we would have world peace within a week.

And that’s why we called her the Guru.

photo: z egloff

photo: z egloff

How do you react to change? Share your comments below!

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13 Responses to My Guru Has a Tail, Episode 8: The Quick Change Artist

  1. Sherry June 24, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    Oh, Z, this was a wonderful (and, of course, funny Blog). We can learn so much from animals. Sometimes, when I am stuck in traffic on I-4, I’ll look up at the sky and see the birds flying and just taking it easy. Or, I will look up at the light post and see a hawk watching the stupid Humans below. And, I have to wonder? Who is better off? The birds, I think. They are able to do ONLY what they CHOOSE to do. They are not obligated to societies norms as we are.

    You can say that our Planet Earth is the same way. No matter what happens to it, it just IS.

    Love you!

    • Z Egloff June 24, 2014 at 11:54 am #

      Hi Sherry,

      Yes, our animal friends can certainly add a much needed perspective to our lives. I like this image of the birds flying around, taking it easy. Just to be able to fly – what a life! But then again, we can all learn from them and come to a place of taking it easy as well. There are all kinds of ways to fly! :)

      XOZ

  2. Donna June 24, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    Hi Z! I loved this blog for its reality check for me. I react to change in stages, and depending on how difficult the change is for me. I found out that my beloved and trusted doctor would no longer be “providing care as a Primary Care Physician.” I am still reeling from this news. And another person I know also had this doctor said as far as she knew would still be having him as her doc, because she didn’t get a letter. So what could I do? I rushed home to email my doctor and asked him why he dropped me and not her. This was probably my fourth email to him since I got my letter. I felt so betrayed. I was in great fear. Which is what it was – False Evidence Appearing Real. He immediately sent an email saying that he would not be seeing any patients as of tomorrow (Wed.). A friend of mine reminded me that whatever happened was for the good of all. So I will email my new doctor and also make an appointment with her.The doctor I have counted on and trusted for many years said she is very good. I am willing to believe he is right. .I will miss him, but I am not longer paralyzed in fear of the changes.
    Blessings, and thank you for helping me get through this change with your blog.
    Love,
    Donna

    • Z Egloff June 24, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      Hi Donna,

      I’m glad that the post helped, and I’m glad that you’ve shifted out of the place of paralyzed fear. Changes can indeed feel really frightening at first, and it’s great to be able to release the fear and move into a place of acceptance.

      That said, the Guru is not a big fan of her doctor! She is definitely in a place of False Evidence Appearing Real when I have to put her in her carrier and take her to her Dreaded Doctor. I trust that your experience will be much better than that! 😉

      XOZ

  3. donna starr June 24, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    i have tears rolling down my cheeks. i love lucy. (if ya know what i mean)

    • Z Egloff June 24, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

      Lucy loves you too. I asked her and she said she did. Granted, she expressed this love by turning around and showing me her butt, but that’s true love for a cat, as I think you know.

  4. Fran June 24, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    I’m gonna hang out with Lucy & smoke on the patio!

    • Z Egloff June 25, 2014 at 10:43 am #

      Hi Fran!

      I can totally see that! :)

      XOZ

  5. Karen June 24, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    “In time, however, it became clear that the Guru was no longer interested in schooling, and was only interested in scarfing.” I burst out laughing at this, Z. This is such a clever blog post, and you so capture the Guru’s essence here — and her likely motto: “Working hard pays off later but being lazy pays off now.”

    I sometimes react to change like our newer kitty, Lil Orphan Annie, who cowered under the bed for weeks when we first adopted her. I WANT to react to change like our first cat, Cindy Lou Who, who stretched out on the bed as soon as we brought her home and looked at us like: “Where are my Paul Newman’s Own Organics and my water and my toys and my head-rub?”

    Annie has now adjusted to our household and navigates freely from sofa to chair to cat door to food dish. Watching her slowly learn to trust us has been a beautiful thing, and she reminds me that even those of us who don’t relish change can make the best of it. I think the Guru taught her that when Guru was doing more schooling and a little less scarfing. :)

    • Z Egloff June 25, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      Hi Karen,

      “Being lazy pays off now!” I love this! I’ve never heard it before. I’ll pass it on to the Guru – I know she’ll agree.

      What a beautiful story about Lil Orphan Annie. I’m glad that she has now adjusted to her new home – on her own time. Not everyone can jump in like the Guru and Cindy Lou Who! Luckily, this world is full of all kinds of wonderful beings, and we can have fun appreciating all of it.

      Say hello to the kitties from me and the Guru!

      XOZ

      • Karen June 25, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

        Oh thanks, Z!!!!! Yes, variety is the spice of life. If we all reacted just the same, it would be Dullsville revisited. :)

  6. Rev. Lorna June 24, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

    Codependent or friendly? LoL!

    • Z Egloff June 25, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      Hi Rev. Lorna!

      Yeah, Lucy has us checking our definitions constantly! 😉

      XOZ

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