One morning as I came down stairs and was getting my routine, I found myself talking with the cat- an orange tabby named Bill. I don’t remember about what – you know – stuff you talk to your cat about which could be absolutely anything. Whatever it was – I started to realize something. He was sitting at attention, rapt as he gazed dauntless into my eyes with lips as silent, as serene as granite. His predator ears – tiny, stereo satellite dishes tilted to me; his body directed forward in respectful repose, his eyes bright, wide, glistening. I was Socrates in the agora. I was Buddha on the mount, I was – the center of his universe at that moment.
What I said didn’t matter. There were no todo items in it, no potential criticisms for him to digest or fend off, no ideas for him to dismiss, argue against or wait to the completion of so that he could insert his own. He was listening without a concern for himself. After all, he didn’t understand the content of my speech. He was listening to my voice. Looking into my face. Taking in my presence – and giving me every morsel of his own.
I felt warm and soft. I thought – I’d like to learn how to do that for others. This is really something to learn from him. This caused me to stop speaking at which- he waited in stillness until he was completely sure I was finished. Then was heard, the gentlest purr and a soft “meow”, and he walks up to me gently and moves to my ankle for a rub. It’s a certain kind of listening. People say that cats are indifferent and self-absorbed. That is true many times – but when it is your turn, they are available in every sinew of their little beings – in those moments they show a listening power which, over the course of over a million years of evolution has been honed while listening to the beating of the hearts of field-mice beneath blankets of foliage or snow.
And they give those wonderful ears to you, with their softness, their affection and their beautiful gaze. I thought – I’d like to learn from them. I am still not a good listener most times. Every once in a while I notice I am able to find and to stay with “the cat within”, and become perfectly still and present in the midst of another’s softly beating heart.