Sunday, 24 February 2013

Cat Walking for 15 Years


Many of my ideas about movement and softness, grace and harmony come from the observation of cats. It's not that cats necessarily embody these qualities better than humans, its just that as a race, we have more or less forgotten the benefits of living a graceful way. So I tend to spend a fair amount of time in observation of cats. Specifically, one cat who made an appearance in The Bean Curd Boxer and on many posts that have turned up on this blog.

video

Her name was Sophie and she came to inspire me with not just her grace, but her persistence and perseverance for life for over 15 years.  One more than one occasion I remember her going missing. We had recently moved from a town flat to the country and an isolated Olive farm. We assumed she had wondered off and got lost in the wilderness. The nearest neighbour was over 20  minutes by car and we bordered nature parks on all but one side. There appeared little chance she could survive without water or food in the Andalusian hot summer for almost two weeks. But one morning I noticed a circling vulture near the house. The vulture gradually swooped lower and lower, now screeching in a frenzy and preparing for a final dive into the a hillside of gorse.

Then I heard the miaow. Between the screeching and the flapping of wings a feint miaow came again, and I ran along the track, shouting at the vulture to leave and scanning for signs of movement from within the thorny gorse bushes that had spread so far over the abandoned lands.

Sophie emerged. Thin as a pencil and with her tongue down to her knees.

It took a while before her tail once more could raise itself above her head, before she once more resembled a normal member of her species and not a piece of string. But she recovered well enough within a few months, to take-on and win a fight with a large snake, and to chase off curious foxes approaching the house .

There were other times too when we felt she had come to the end of her nine lives (or 7 as it is  believed here). We would grieve her passing, only to find her return a few weeks carrying scars and wounds that told of distant battles.

But last week she handed in the towel, or perhaps more accurately she climbed on board the towel. The previous night she had been scampering up trees, demanding extra biscuits and hassling the dog for his bed space, but during the night - the very night the Astroid skimmed past the Earth - she decided that enough was enough. She ascended the stairs and outside our bedroom found a pile of towels in a basket on the floor. Up she climbed, rolled herself into a small ball and went to sleep dreaming of astroids and vultures and, no doubt, of biscuits.

And so Sophie inspired me even as she left. Her quiet and graceful departure reminds me to live as she did. Close to those I love and with a capacity to participate and enjoy the moment, even if it should be my very last.

These lessons I incorporated into several chapters in Bean Curd Boxing: Cat walking, Soften your Stare, Slowing down and Balance...all these chapters were in many ways the result of my observations of her.

It is to that end that I write this post, in gratitude and in memory of the movements of one small animal that inspired me to put pen to paper and to walk with a lighter step upon this earth.

Below I am reproducing the Snapguide on Cat Walking, that not only features some of her inspired movements, but her images too.

 How to Walk Like a Cat: Tai Chi Walking for Beginners 
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