If you ever look at the Buddhist texts, you will quickly become acquainted with the word “suffering.” It appears to be the front and center concept that leads to acceptance in life. The next word that is very prominent is “compassion.” So I am always looking around me, looking for ways to help. This past month it took the form of fostering three orphan feral kittens. Knowing that I would just be one of many that would assist in helping animals that end up in our shelter, there were so many compelling reasons to be grateful during the process.
The first thing I’m grateful for is unconditional love. It flows both ways. And when it does, that is the true and ultimate bliss to be found in love. And I found that even coming from a kitten, or three… The feeling still has a profound and lasting effect. To know what they faced just to survive, to be creatures so very vulnerable in a world in turmoil and chaos, my heart became connected to theirs. I am invested in their survival and happiness.
Keeping my own boat on an even keel has been the challenge. Not being very social at this point in my life, I have struggled to stay “involved” with my friends. When faced with ten hundred and eleven more things I’d rather be doing, “hanging out” at someone else’s house just isn’t my thing. I like planned parties, with a little prep time. Also on my list of growing concerns is learning healthy relationships involving both genders. There has been more than one night now where I will wake up consumed with indigestion and pain. In my mind, it is my own stress over establishing limits, maintaining boundaries, and putting myself and my own group here at the “farm” first. I do not apologize for this. In today’s crazy difficult financial scene, every person I know is challenged.
I no longer look at scaling back on possessions as an imposition. It is a pleasure to share, a cathartic experience to purge and eliminate useless items, and what I am left with is priceless in terms of new ideas, new avenues, new opportunites and new “space.” Mental and physical!
To incorporate these new ideas into my real life is fun and empowering. Eliminating trash is huge! And it can be done. When you keep that in mind before you purchase something, you will find that the places you go to shop will change as well. Farmers Markets and local farms become the focus. I never go to the “big” stores anymore. I do not miss the plastic ware from China one bit. Or the clothes that I know were put together under stress and hardship by people just like me hoping to survive. I use glass and ceramics, pottery and baskets. I take my own shopping bags with me in my purse. I make my own clothes and household items with re-purposed fabric, or organic cottons I have stashed over the past year or so. I love doing something taught to me by my mother and grandmother.
Because I am a foster mom for the three kittens, I have had a close-up and personal view of the animal rescue community and all the obstacles they face every single day. Feeding these animals, for one thing, is incredibly involved. One lady brought me milk from her goats for the kittens when they were so tiny they couldn’t eat. Not having their own true mother cat, their health was always compromised. What they eat and how often becomes the most important factor in your life in the first weeks. You learn to put your own silly problems aside and you concentrate on keeping these little creatures alive. Having done it, I would not trade the experience for anything. It all went so very fast. I am keeping one kitten, my roommate has adopted the other brother, and I am placing the sister kitten up for adoption. We’ve already had two inquiries and hoping for more. It is a big world out there and people are very busy it seems. My timeline is quite different… more subdued. My life, my bliss.
What is the point of all this? Six months ago, looking around me, I had not the faintest idea of how to proceed to change my life. I had been going green, eliminating waste, encouraging people around me not to give up, sharing ideas and inspiration, warning people of dangers when they didn’t have the time to investigate every little thing themselves, but I was not finding the integration of that purpose in my soul. Having the guts to say yes to the rescue lady, adopting yet another dog, reaching out to others, making friends, being a strong role model and staying focused on my own dreams, I believe I have integrated things much more. It is growing and learning, and I highly recommend slowly moving out of your own comfort zone and widening your “bubble.” Include people you might not have considered, putting people first on your list of “Those to Help.”
By helping the kittens, I have also helped other people, grown and loved more myself, and learned a different sort of calm I can call upon, which comes from the shared love and attachment I have for these animals. I read an article this morning about the people and business in Bolivia. It seems that the fast-food chain McD’s had finally failed and closed its doors there, after many years and tons of money to convert the indigenous peoples over to junk food. It didn’t work. How did these lovely people defeat the mega-giant? They just didn’t buy-in! They didn’t go there. It took a few years, but the resulting outcome is perfect. They are still healthy and happy and the greedy corps can take a flying leap! Some people will never change. And just like my own mother, will fall fate to their choices. Personally, when my own little group of animals have passed, if I am still here, maybe Bolivia will still be there… Isn’t that where Butch and Sundance went? One can hope!