Jack Mackerel, cat from hell, is on a Rampage of Appreciation.
So said my lover this morning. (I added the cat from hell part.)
And well he should be.
Jack is a rescue cat; Celia heard him call out from under a car one day. She was uptown, visiting her storage unit, a trip that wore every garment of a run of the mill chore/task interval. Halfway home, the little howler stopped her right in her tracks.
The rest is history.
Jack got swooped up, protesting not a whisper, taken to Celia’s cool flat just off broadway (Upper West side, whoo whoo) and plonked into a bubble bath; he has not known hunger or cold since.
And it is not lost on this cat. He appreciates every day.
Jack spends his time looking around for what games are afoot. He is a master tipper. If you leave anything (anything…he tipped over Cee’s laptop once) out on a counter, consider it subject to tipping. Look at those paws, the cat can tip.
Roll a ball down the hall and Jack will give chase like you read about. Fun is the agenda. Fun or sleeping, strict policy.
This article is not about Jack (although I may have just lost some of you.)
Its about his Rampage of Appreciation. Jack is, unlike me, the Buddha incarnate. I am so riddled with neurosis and various invented problems that you would think I had actual struggle somewhere in life.
We all have our experiential magic gypsy wagons.
Mine was a strange series of gifts I gave myself at around age 19. I’ve been jailed and institutionalized and turned it around. I have managed to remain “at large” for 27 years now…a narrow escape from fates most harrowing.
You would think I would be a walking, talking, one-man gratitude ensemble. But no. Even though I am clear, especially when I drive past a prison, free to roam, that there are no problems, no real problems, once you’ve handled (or are granted) personal liberty, still, I often lack gratitude.
Appreciation, though, is different. Appreciation is easier, somehow. I mean it’s still similar. Merriam-Webster even includes the g-word as part of their definition:
a : judgment, evaluation; especially: a favorable critical estimate
b : sensitive awareness; especially: recognition of aesthetic values
c : an expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude
For our romp in the park here. let’s focus on b: sensitive awareness; especially: recognition of aesthetic values. Because folks, we have enough insensitive unawareness to last us a lifetime.I’m an artist and had years to develop what I consider “my” aesthetic (which is just, what do you like to see and notice); I have stopped under a bridge to admire the patterns of rust forced into the concrete by the steel girders.
There is life force and aesthetic lusciousness all around us, constantly. Tonight I fell in love with the feeling of a paper-wrapped tea bag, but only because I was trafficking in this idea, preparing to write you.
So if you don’t have an aesthetic, grab one. Invent one. Let there exist a set of circumstances, colors, particular lighting, sounds, that you are aware of really loving.
It matters because sometimes, a Rampage of Appreciation is all that stands between bog standard daytime and having the awesomest time ever, no matter what I’m up to.
I saw a guy once on the street, pushing two carts, everywhere.
Look at him.
He had clearly been pushing those carts, without so much as a dinner break, for 65 or 70-years.
The singularly amazing thing was, of course, his posture. In all your life, you will never see anyone more bent to the task.
He comes to mind for a couple of reasons.
One: he and his carts are, in my twisted notions of aesthetics, gorgeous to the point of rarity. And of course I know full well that, robbed of my sense of what is pretty, he is a vastly uninteresting obstacle, not to be bothered with for any reason.
But let me tell you, the bend, the overloaded carts, the speed of a motor vehicle department infusing his every breath, to me they are the sutras; he is a bodhisattvah on wheels. You don’t have to like his look; our man is not for everybody, let’s face it.
The joy pouring out from him is secondary to what the man was actually doing and how he was living.
Cars honking, people cruising by in all kinds of fascinating outfits, me talking to him, trying to get him to say anything at all and the guy sees and hears only the objects in his cart.
He had it.
Give it a cursory glance and call it a weird old dude or a grasping lost bum, I’m telling you the guy was an enlightened being. He had found appreciation and not me, not you—not even an offer of a free Kit Kat—was going to eclipse it.
And I think that’s a beginning; finding whatever it is.
Being free to roam the planet, making art, yoga, travel, love, adventure. Finding what you most appreciate and knowing it and then letting that consciousness spread. Letting it inform, gradually, more and more of your day.
Swimming in appreciative waters today, leaving the city for the mountain, I was so, so happy to hear the rumble of my truck starting. I laughed as the subway pulled in as I was heading down the stairs; I opened a chocolate bar with genuine relish.
I am at a monastery for six days of silent retreat (adjusts halo). I may be violating some rule by typing this to you. It does not feel like silence. (But the Lama said that the rules were suspended for tonight, so nyaa nyaa!)
We were asked what our aspirations are for this time and I told the group that I want to create a Rampage of Appreciation.
Will it work?
I’m not sure, but I do know that so much of creating is choosing “yes.” So much of it is allowing, getting out of the way.
Recent experiments with this have shown, however, that it will get you high.
Hope you can appreciate that.
Ed: Bryonie Wise
(Photos by Karl Saliter)
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