Buddha and the cat

Dear President Biden,

I feel somewhat guilty not writing to you about current events today given what’s going on in Kabul, Polk County, Minnesota, and Florida but I’m feeling wrung out and as though the only energy I can muster is for sending you a direct observation story, so here you go….

Yesterday toward the end of my walk I saw an unleashed dog in close, hot pursuit of a cat. Fortunately the cat made it onto its porch (I’ve seen it there several times) by leaping through one of the little bricked arches at the bottom of the wall-surround thereby stymieing the dog. It really was close, though.

During the pursuit, the dog’s person was yelling “Buddha, Buddha, stop it. Come here.” I kid you not. The dog’s name is Buddha and Buddha was hell bent for leather going after that cat like she was going to disembowel and eat said cat (I also heard Buddha’s person say something to the cat’s person at the end of the drama using feminine pronouns referring to Buddha). I couldn’t hear the actual content of the dog-person and cat-person exchange and whether dog-person was apologetic or trying to mollify cat-person with stuff like “oh, Buddha, she loves cats. She just wants to play and would never hurt a cat” but the “she” was audible.

For some reason it all struck – and obviously still strikes – me as pretty hilarious that there is a dog out there named Buddha that is so given to her primitive fixed action patterns that she’ll tear through several yards trying to catch a cat. When he was younger, our dog Buddy would fire up in this way over squirrels and I know of a dog named Bear who lights up like this for rabbits so it’s not as though the fixed action pattern deal is itself news to me or anyone else. It’s really the juxtaposition of someone having named a dog Buddha and seeing that dog completely lose its shit when it sees a cat.

I mean Buddhas are supposed to be calm, placid, chill – right?

Then there’s the pretty awesome deal that I not infrequently convince myself that I’m rocking the whole calm, placid, chill thing and feel like I’m totally getting into the Buddha-zone only to get blazingly pissed off by some minor thing – a stubbed toe, a thwarted expectation, bad traffic….whatever. I’m like dog-Buddha in my fixed emotional reaction patterns and end up doing human versions of cat chasing way more often than I care to admit.

Maybe the next time one of those inevitable life snag things comes up I’ll remember the absurdity of dog-Buddha’s person yelling her name and telling her to stop engaging in her Buddha-nature. Maybe. We’ll see.

May we all be safe from everyone’s aggressive impulses.
May we all be willing to have compassion for our primitive selves.
May we also have the strength to check our primitive selves so we don’t cause harm.
May we accept that this is hard work that requires constant vigilance.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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