Today I came across two You Tube videos featuring a dog and a cat that made me realize how much other animals have to teach us.
Since for most of my life I've shared a home with dogs and/or cats, I already knew this. But these videos had a special message for me -- maybe because I'm becoming increasingly attracted to wordless wisdom, the lingua franca of pets and us.
Last night my wife said she'd read about "street dogs" in Greece who had taken part in the demonstrations that are commonplace in that country. Firing up Google this morning, I found this video of "The Legendary Athens Greece Riot Dog."
What struck me was how this "dumb" animal seemed so much smarter than the angry groups opposing each other. Frequently the dog is shown standing between the riot police and the demonstrators, looking doggishly detached, pleased to simply be part of things.
In short, a Taoist sage.
This is the way of life of the sage who has reached a higher point of view, a perspective from which the relativity and polar relationship of all opposites are clearly perceived. These opposites include, first and foremost, the concepts of good and bad which are interrelated in the same way as yin and yang. Recognizing the relativity of good and bad, and thus of all moral standards, the Taoist sage does not strive for the good but rather tries to maintain a dynamic balance between good and bad.
The dog does a great job at that. He wags his tail at police and protesters alike. I only wish I could be as accepting of disparate points of view.
Then, a perusal of my Twitter feeds led me to one of those million-plus-viewed viral videos. The Tweet said that this video of a cat attending to an injured fellow feline had made the person cry.
No kidding. There's more emotion in the first thirty seconds than I could comfortably handle. But I managed to watch the whole thing.
This is life. Human life. Cat life. Every sort of life. It begins, and it ends. When death approaches, it usually hurts. Sometimes a lot.
I can't know what the cat is feeling. But I know what I felt watching the cat attend to it's injured companion. I can't put that into words -- yet I'm sure you understand what the feeling is, because we've all lost someone deeply cared for.
And learned that the injured female cat didn't survive. Sad. But that's life as it often is: sad. We try to paper over the hurt with trite greeting card sentimentality, reassuring religious platitudes, and other means.
I think the cat expressed what life is about more honestly.