So, I shouldn’t start such a serious and important topic with a gag, but always doing what I am supposedly supposed to do is not my strong suit. What I am supposed to do is to follow my nature. Cats, by nature, are extremely independent, so the idea of doing what I am supposed to do is de facto absurd, if that means I am supposed to follow a person’s idea of what my behavior or attitude ought to be. Already, I am off topic.
Mike and Michelle got up early this morning and went to vote. Shayna Maidel, that most civic-minded of tabby cats, started waking Mike up at 4:30 this morning to make sure he got up to vote. She wanted him to get there early so he wouldn’t have to wait in line too long. The polling place opened at 8, and when they got there at about 7:25 there were already around 200 people in line. When they left around 9 after voting, it looked like more than double that number.
Mike brought a book to read. He is reading “The Great Transformation” by Karen Armstrong. She is a brilliant writer and scholar who writes about religious and philosophical history. The book covers a several hundred year period starting around 900 BCE, and traces the cultural, religious, and philosophical histories of the Middle East, Greece, India, and China over this period. While standing in line today Mike read about Socrates, Buddha, Confucius, Zhuangzi, Mencius, and some other sages he never heard of before. Don’t ask him what he got out of his reading, because, at least the specifics, he won’t remember. But he did get this: In various ways, in various places, and at various times people have struggled to understand the world, and how to live best within it. On the one hand, there are people who believe in taking whatever they can for themselves, whatever the cost to others may be. On the other side are those who believe in the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Or, “Do not unto others as you would not have them do unto you.” What interested Mike as he was reading today is how all these great philosophers, living in different times and coming from different cultures could all come to the same conclusion. True happiness can only be achieved through the denial of self. It is what Bill Wilson called “ego-deflation.” Of course, it is way more complicated than this, or at least, there is much more to it than this, but this much is what I think I understand. It was an interesting thing for Mike to think about while standing in line to vote in this particular election.
I wonder if the same truth coming to different people at different times, who could not possibly have known about each other, means that there really is at some level absolute truth, or at least, absolute reality. Carl Jung wrote about The Collective Unconscious, which could correspond to, or at least partly explain, this idea. The Collective Unconscious, as opposed to the personal unconscious, is common to all members of a species. It is populated by instincts and archetypes, and through these structures influences in a profound way the life experience of every individual. Many of these archetypes can be found in great books and spiritual literature including the Bible. Examples of such archetypes could include the Hero (Abraham, Moses, Jesus), the Monster (Leviathan, Goliath, the Beast of Revelations), and the 3 day descent into the netherworld (Jonah, Jesus). Mike says that if there is such a thing as a Collective Unconscious, it could be transmitted in the DNA, and thereby go back to the beginning of life. What is more interesting to speculate about, of course, is the possibility that cats also have a Collective Unconscious. My vote is yes, we do. It would explain a lot. Of course, if Mike is right that the Collective Unconscious is carried in the DNA and goes back to the beginning of life, then the Collective Unconscious of all species will have elements in common with each other. I like this idea as well. As the Lakota say, mitakwe oyesin, we are all related.
People have been much more political the past couple or more years. The voices of moderates have been drowned out by the angry citizens on both sides (the right side and the wrong side) of the issues. Mike has a point of view, but says that opposing points of view, and their free expression, are necessary for a democracy to work. It is a mistake to take it personally when people disagree. However, the discourse has been decidedly uncivil since Spoiled Donald emerged as a leader. I think it is important to not take the bait and join in the rude insults and mudslinging. It is important to speak up, and of course, to vote. This goes for everybody, Mike says, and in this sense it doesn’t matter who you vote for. Millions of people have given up their lives to preserve our right to have a say in our way of life. Check out Mike and Michelle in this post-polling photo.
This is a time of year for weird spiders to show up. Mike was on the sun porch last weekend with the boys when he saw a leaf suspended in mid-air, several feet below a dogwood branch. A spider came crawling down a single filament a distance of several feet, cut the leaf loose, and crawled back up again. What was that all about? We saw another weird spider that has spun a web in the front of the house under the Japanese magnolia tree. It had a carapace like a turtle! Who ever heard of such a thing? This is what it looked like.
This is an orb-weaving spider, of which there are a great many kinds. I’m not sure which kind this is, other than it is creepy. Orb-weavers are known for their disagreeable habit of sexual cannibalism. Mike read up on this a little. It seems that the longer the male copulates with the female the more likely he is to be eaten afterwards. If he copulates for ten seconds or longer, he is toast. Also, males are more likely to desist from copulating more quickly if the female is a sister of his. Who studies this stuff anyway?
So, this is a small sample of what is going on in Happy Meadows these days. We do have people we love who are very ill right now. Please keep Bill, Ruth, Nancy, and Ginny in your prayers. Until next time, be well, be safe, and be happy.