Thursday, July 24, 2008

Zen Master K?

“I have lived with 5 zen masters, all of them cats,” is a declaration by Eckhart Tolle. I believe he’s saying that cats are not stuck in their egos and can live their lives in perfect peace. I live with a cat, and I’m pretty skeptical about him being a zen master, though there is certainly a lot for me to learn from him. His name is Agent K, and he ended up in my life through a circuitous path. He is a hypervocalizing, over-eating, scaredy-cat.

Agent K was born in Seoul, South Korea on July 1, 2002. According to his birth certificate, he has a brother named Agent J. I have no idea about Agent J’s where-abouts; his documentation is my only clue to his existence. I believe their naming is a reference to the movie Men In Black, though I’m not certain. Agent K always wears a tuxedo, and is very handsome, with gorgeous white whiskers. There’s very little that I know about his past. After Seoul, he spent some time in France with a previous guardian, then he ended up in Seattle for a while. His guardians eventually moved to Hong Kong and left him temporarily with a friend for a few months. The temporary stay eventually became permanent as the owners never came back for him nor called. I became engaged to his new caretaker, then we moved in together, and then K became my roommate. When the engagement ended, his caretaker moved to Paris and left him in my charge temporarily, and I have been taking care of him on my own for the past 8 months. I have now been living with him for over a year, so I have the chance to witness him up close. I find his demeanor more neurotic than peaceful.

The chain of ownership, which he may even interpret as abandonment has been tough on him. Perhaps he feels as if he will be abandoned at any turn. I really feel for the little guy, and thus can credit him with having taught be empathy and compassion (lesson 1).

I am certainly not his owner. This statement is not meant to reflect the temporariness of my stewardship, but rather that I can not claim ownership of another Being (lesson 2). K is very much his own being. I am merely his roommate, caretaker, feeder, feather-on-a-string-on-a-stick shaker, potty cleaner, brusher, friend, target of harassment, rubbing post, and family. It is more likely that he owns me, since I do all of the dirty work while he doesn’t contribute a thing to the household. I love the little guy and am happy to do it. This feeling of love for an animal is strange to me because I grew up without pets (except small fish) and I never really liked (nor disliked) animals. I never saw myself as having a pet. Now, I live with a cat and love it (lesson 3).

It is certainly not always easy to love him, though, no matter how handsome he is and how his dashing good looks really add another dimension of charm to the apartment. There’s also the fact that he often cries and moans all night long. This is especially bad after I return from a trip. He can cry incessantly for hours, sounding immensely distraught. This used to aggravate me to no end; there’s nothing that I can do to control it. Yelling at him or trying to punish him is just attention x3, and giving that to him only trains him to act up further. The best thing that I can do is maintain a sense of utter serenity around him (lesson 4) and eventually, after a couple hours, he gives up and sprawls out somewhere.

And through all of this, I love him more and more. And the more that I love him, the more that he mellows (lesson 5). Also, the more time that I spend with him, I often find myself putting his needs over mine. I’m exhausted… so what? When he needs my attention, it does not matter how exhausted I am, I have to give him the attention that he needs. And, tiredness isn’t the only concern, there are many times when I have to cut fun short to feed him or have allergic guests put out because of him (I’m allergic myself), or scare my family out of visiting due to allergies. Despite these set-backs, he is still very much deserving of my love. Brushing him, channeling reiki to him, or otherwise playing with him helps him so much. It also helps me to feel a happier sense of purpose (lesson 6). I continue to take care of him as someone whom he touches and with whom he acquaints. Other people have children to learn these lessons from, I get to start with K.

Agent K might not be a zen master, but he certainly has helped his disciple grow. Here’s a recap of the lessons learned:
1. I can show empathy and compassion.
2. I cannot own another Being.
3. How to love more wholly than before.
4. Patience through great irritation.
5. The power of compassion to sooth even the obnoxious beast.
6. How to choose lovingkindness over convenience.

Thanks, K!


  1. When's the next family bath time?

  2. :) I just took a bath with him earlier this week. He seemed to enjoy the bath, but disliked me drying him. He just didn't like being forced to stay still for so long.

  3. I love this blog post. The moment you start loving him is the moment it rewards you. Do you think it's Agent K, or do you think it's your new perspective for the relationship. Everything is now good. Even his peeing on the wall and the damage to the furniture and the time he stepped in his poo and tracked it all over the house. Indelible memories ...

  4. It's all about the perspective, for sure. It's about being willing to view every situation as an infinitely wise teacher.

  5. I relearn these same lessons every day! Especially in the mornings when all the animals are crying to eat and go out, and when I come back from work when... all the animals are crying to eat and go out.

  6. I bet you relearn these same lessons every day. I needed to relearn them yesterday. Your comment inspired me to reread my own post and then I played with K a lot more. He's hanging out next to me right now while I write this, a handsome purring fellow. For the first time ever he jumped up and sat in my lap last night. ... he just did it again. that's why there was a pause in my writing.