Lola, you are the little furry malcontent who allows us to live in your home. In the last year and a half, you have ingratiated yourself to us, and we have earned your affection. Being a cat, this affection usually comes in very small doses, but that is alright with us.
You have changed us in ways that you could not possibly imagine, or reasonably care about. You have made us kinder and more patient, and made it clear that we have no choice but to be kinder and more patient. You have carved out your niche in our home and your fierce spirit of independence has belied any idea I might have had that cats are simple creatures. You are intelligent, inquisitive, and infinitely kind. You are a buddha while we are trying to become like you.
Quietly and with great stoicism, you have forced me to reconsider all of my thoughts about animals. For I have to admit that you have a spirit, a being to you that must be what we mean when we talk about a soul. When you look into my eyes, I realize that you once feared the two of us, but now simply see us as your rather strange companions. This is very humbling for me. What is it that makes you an animal and me something else? Is it higher intelligence? What exactly would that be? You can hear a songbird in the backyard from the bedroom in the front of the house on the top floor. How much more intelligence does a cat like you need?
If you do have a being, a persona that makes you unique, then your life has the same value. You have forced me to reconsider why I shudder when I see livestock trucks on the highway. In your little eyes, I see a life that would be tragic to lose. I've been thinking a lot about this lately, Lola. While you've been considering ways to eat the plant on the deck and how to play tag in this new house, I've been wondering if I can accept anymore that I have to snuff out a life to eat.
Surely, I believe that humans are instinctively driven to eat meat and that denying ourselves this is as logical as denying ourselves the urge to mate. I hate Puritanism in all of its forms. But, I also believe that we possess an innate empathy and that to direct this empathy only towards other humans is not only destructive to the rest of the species on earth, but suicidal as well.
And so, Lola, I've been thinking a lot about you lately, and about the connection I feel with you when you lie on my stomach and expect me to scratch your back. Of course, this was probably your plan all along. Buddhas are subtle that way.