That day, the autumn sun warmly embraced the sky with the soft memory of summer.
The leaves had already changed colour, glinting orange, red and yellow as they whispered gently against each other.
I took my bike and rode further into the forest. I looked up into the kaleidoscope of golden colours, and felt that each tree was caught in a deep inhale, silently holding its breath, before exhaling and scattering its dying leaves to a mossy grave below.
It was nature’s last breath of summer, which it was about to let go, and I felt that it was inviting me to let go too.
I liked to push my limits on my mountain bike, which was a habit from my days of marathon training, but this time I took a comfortable speed, allowing the hilly trail and the wind to take me wherever they wanted. With no destination in mind, I soaked up the last of the summer sun, my soul captivated by the beautiful nature all around.
The trail took me to a lake, where I stopped to rest on the damp grass. I gazed at the colourful leaves reflected in the inky mirrored water. A peaceful silence blanketed the forest and stretched out across the lake.
Then, I noticed a white cat, sitting calmly opposite me on the grass. I looked at the cat, and as our eyes locked, I felt a strong sense of presence in the cat’s unblinking stare. An eternal moment of connection passed between us, bringing me deeper into inner peace and presence.
I felt very strongly that this cat didn’t see me as a human, as something to be cautious of. Instead, I felt unconditionally accepted, in unity with the cat and with the expansive nature surrounding us.
I closed my eyes and all I could feel was love.
Just love, without any explanation behind it, without any reason for it. Love was just there, and it was letting me know that it is always there, hiding behind all my worries and all my frustration to get somewhere in this life.
I looked at the cat again, and I knew he felt the same, except it wasn’t anything new to him. Because he always lived in that state, he always knew the deep connection between himself and this planet, which we humans tend to forget.
I felt like a kindred spirit with this mysterious, wise-looking cat. And it was true—I was him and he was me, and we were both the trees, the lake and the glinting sunlight. We were part of each other and part of everything else. We were connected through love, because essentially, love is the energy behind all the forms of this world.
As I drifted through this deep state of presence and love, I had clear flashbacks of previous moments when I had felt this way. I saw myself lying on the beach at midnight, gazing in awe at the velvety star-lit sky; I saw myself as a child, sitting on the garden shed roof, watching the glorious sunset whilst eating plump cherries; I saw myself fully immersed in wild adventure, as I explored new roads on my rollerblades.
I realised that in all those moments, I had experienced a reunion with myself, which could only exist in the presence of unconditional self-love. And this is what I had been seeking all my life—it’s what we are all seeking, whether consciously or not. But, like most other people, I had been looking for things in the external world to give me that feeling of reunion and love. I’d been seeking it in my career, status, money, reputation and identity.
At that moment, as I sat on the grass staring at the cat, I gained access to pure clarity and peace, which brought me back to myself once again.
I realised that I’d forgotten the real reason why I was always seeking. I realised that what I was looking for is not the career I thought I desired, not the identity I thought I needed. All my goals and ambitions were just illusions, which could never bring me back to what I was really looking for—reunion with myself.
And it’s the same for everyone.
There is something driving each one of us in this life. Whatever we call it, wherever we look for it, it is always the same thing.
It is always love—which is the natural state of our souls.
But we are lost and blinded by the illusions of this world.
Illusions which tell us that there is never enough, that there is always some achievement, some relationship, something more we have to do, have, or be, always some end goal in order for us to be complete, happy and at peace.
But that day never comes, for most of us. It never comes because there is no end goal. It doesn’t exist. Because it is eternally here in this moment, here—within ourselves.
How much time do we spend looking for something that was never lost? How much fear do we feel in order to maintain our illusions? No amount of spiritual chasing will get us there, because there is nowhere to go and nothing to achieve. It is always here—sometimes only behind the pain, behind the noise of others and behind the things we are afraid to let go of.
I will never forget that mysterious white cat, who shared the bond of love with me, and taught me the greatest lesson of my life.
Author: Erast Matej
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Image: Umberto Salvagnin / Flickr