Whenever I think about Buddhism I immediately envision a cat lady. Not an old cat lady, but a young one who still has time to find a lifetime lover. She’s probably about thirty-eight, with crow’s-feet. Her hair is shoulder length, and she wears flats regularly.
She’s put together, our cat lady. She arrives to work on time, always well dressed, and often in black. She’s not large, but she wishes she was thinner. She does yoga irregularly, and eats various salads with a lemon-juice dressing for lunch.
She has an office of her own, and the door is always open. Her desk is neat, and all of her files are organized in the filing cabinets that line two of her walls. She has a small library of reference books, but there is a slight film of dust on the tops of the pages between the hard covers.
After work, our cat lady goes home. She attends the Christmas party every year, but only stays for dinner. At seven, she feeds her cats four treats each, then lights candles and dims the lights. By seven-fifteen she is seated crossed-legged on a large rusty-orange pillow cushion.
Any onlooker would think that they were staring at the scene of the high school burnout’s opium den. Our cat lady retreats into the Romantic era.
Her catharsis comes from the emotional awakening she experiences when she meditates. Her practice is sacred, undisturbed, and routine. It’s these forty-five minutes of her day that help her sleep soundly at night, and focus during the day.
Turning inward, she doesn’t feel the need to feel the rush brought on by a man’s sensual touch. She brings herself warmth, joy, and pleasure. She’s confident, self-sufficient, happy, and liberated, when she’s alone, quiet, and still. With her lips closed against each other, her breathing is steady. Only once, a long while back, when she was coming down with a cold, a whistle through her nose broke her concentration.
By nine she’s laying in bed, with both cats at the foot of the bed. At nine-thirty she puts her book in the top drawer of her bedside table, fluffs the pillows, and turns off the reading lamp. She always has a busy day tomorrow, and needs her rest, which she jokes is her “beauty sleep” when she’s invited to an event that will go past eight. She works her feet into the space between the cats from underneath the covers, turns onto her right side, closes her eyes, forces herself to think of the pleasures of the day, exhales deeply while saying “Namaste”, smiles softly with her lips pressed together, and is asleep within a few breaths.