Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bonsai, Bonzai and the Art of Living Fully

My favorite writing companion
[Sometimes life gets in the way of writing. And sometimes writing gets us through life. This is an example of that. It was written Mar 29 in an effort to overcome writer's block brought on by the death of one of my fur-babies.]

One of his favorite "toys"
Bonsai was rescued from a field as a tiny, almost feral kitten. We named him Bonsai, after the Japanese art of growing miniature trees in containers. At least, that's what my husband thought. I thought we were naming him Bonzai, like the Japanese cheer of good will that translates directly to "ten thousand years of life". Once this misunderstanding was discovered, we settled on Bonsai, but I never stopped shouting his name with enthusiasm. (Except for all the times I was simply shouting it with rage as he roamed the kitchen counters yet again!)

"Bow down, puny humans!"
Bonsai, like all orange cats I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, liked to get himself into trouble. He epitomized the old adage about curiosity and the cat, immediately making his way into any bag, box, cupboard or room that presented itself. He liked to crawl around under the covers, purring loudly and chasing any toes that dared wiggle. He quickly put an end to all my houseplants, throwing the dirt all over the carpet and ingesting (and then regurgitating) the leaves. He was an avid mouser. More than anything else in the world, he liked to be up high. Bonsai would climb anything--chairs, drapes, shelving units, ladders, walls--you name it and he'd find his way to the top of it.

Climbing the pillar in the new house
Bonsai didn't bother worrying about the consequences of his actions. He simply lived his life with as much joy as possible. He climbed to the top of the highest thing he could find just because he wanted to and trusted that a way down would present itself when needed. Once, while on an outing to the "catio", he found a way to the roof of the garage. More recently, his climbing was focused on getting to the top shelf of the pantry, where we store the treats. Less than a week before succumbing to the cancer he'd battled for over a year, he climbed to the top of a workman's ladder in an attempt to access the attic. Much of my time with Bonsai was spent rescuing him from high places--after he'd finished enjoying them, of course.

Just LOOK at that face. <3
This week, as we adapt to life without him, I keep stumbling over little reminders that Bonsai is no longer with us--the back of the couch is empty, there are flowers sitting undisturbed on the counter, nobody is splashing water out of toilets accidentally left open. Daily life has become a minefield of emotion. This morning, my phone buzzed to remind me that we had a chemo appointment scheduled for tomorrow. I almost got through the call to cancel it without breaking down. Almost.

Pay attention to ME.
Gradually, though, the positive memories are taking over. I'm remembering the clever, argumentative, snugly Bonsai instead of the sickly, exhausted Bonsai. I'm thinking about the happiness we had with him in our lives instead of the sorrow I'm feeling now. Most importantly, I'm working to internalize his philosophy of living life to the fullest. Moments of potential joy present themselves and instead of worrying about what might happen, I'm grabbing onto them with both hands.

I'll worry about how to get down from the top of the cupboard after I've finished enjoying the sights.

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