Friday, July 25, 2014

7 QT: The Tao of Cats, Redneck tips, and useless trivia.

In which I share some wisdom from the Tao of Cats, plus some practical and not-so-practical knowledge that I've come by over the last couple of years.

--- 1 ---
Chillin' with Etta in Upstate New York.

A while ago, I stumbled across a blog recommending that I be like a cat. The author provides three examples of how I should be like a cat. Her first example is: "Cats are comfortable everywhere." This is not a passive submission but rather a healthy acceptance of the current situation and a desire to live this moment with purpose and peace. It is an act of the will. It is a choice to accept the situation rather than futilely struggling against it and causing ourselves unnecessary suffering. In Steven Pressfield's book The War of Art, he reveals the many obstacles that can keep us from embracing the present moment and bearing fruit. Seize the day!

--- 2 ---

"When cats are focused, they're INCREDIBLY focused." St. Paul said in Romans 12:2, "Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect." In order to discern the will of God, one needs a mind that is focused on God rather than the world. This requires disciplining the mind to achieve interior quiet. Otherwise, as Jesus said, it is as though "some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it."

In my last set of Quick Takes, I mentioned my attempt to act more slowly and deliberately, to avoid rushing, and to be recollected. In order to work toward this, I've started praying the Jesus Prayer which is a common practice in the Orthodox Church in hopes of attaining the Prayer of the Heart. It is literally 15 minutes of this (see YouTube video) but without the babbling brook and nature scenes. In fact, the instructions I'm using encourage one to pray in a quiet place with closed eyes. The point is not to meditate. In fact, it's not a meditative prayer at all. But it is an ascetic practice, as one should focus attention on the words of the prayer and draw the mind back whenever it wanders. I don't know if I'm doing it right but I do think it has helped me to focus better and reject unhealthy thoughts. "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." [Philippians 4:8]

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This week I finished listening to a life changing book called Abandonment to Divine Providence (check out the free audiobook). At one point I was reminded of the third admirable cat behavior mentioned: "When cats fall, they don't brace for that fall, but meet the ground with their most relaxed body." So much suffering comes from bracing ourselves, in any given situation, for the worst possible outcome when normally the actual outcome is far better. However, we can learn from the cats that, even in the worst case, the best response is one of abandonment. "The passive part of sanctity is still more easy since it only consists in accepting that which we very often have no power to prevent, and in suffering lovingly, that is to say with sweetness and consolation, those things that too often cause weariness and disgust." "Resistance, often unnoticed, is the source of all our trouble." This abandonment is not apathy, but rather a discerning acceptance of Divine Providence. When God sends trials, be like a cat!

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Public Service Announcement! I'm probably the last person in the world to learn this ingenious method of cooking corn on the cob, but I tried it last night and it was so perfect that I had to share it here! I microwaved mine for 4 minutes but I would imagine it depends on wattage.

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Way back during the furlough, LMC Albert showed me how the Missionaries of Charity Sisters dry their Ziploc bags after washing them for reuse. Conveniently, the bags will stick right to the wall and you can hang them upside down to dry overnight. It looks a little redneck but that's fine by me. I'm sure there are plenty of studies that suggest that washing and reusing plastic bags can give you cancer… but the Bible says that I can eat poison and live, so I'm not too worried about it.

--- 6 ---

I hesitate to post a video that begins with a plane crash landing, even if it is that miraculous safe landing in the Hudson River. However, this video stars my friend Jeremy who is now in seminary, and it is quite educational. Who knew that snarge is a word? (Apparently not Google's spell checker!) Apparently snarge is the Smithsonian's term for the bloody and feathery mess left behind after an airplane strikes a bird. I asked Jeremy if the term snarge applies to automobile bird strikes and if there are other types (like squirrel snarge), but he wasn't sure. I'll have to remember these questions if I ever visit the Feather Identification Lab.

--- 7 ---

A year or so ago, I was sharing my knowledge of useless trivia with a coworker. He was convinced that the Giant Panda is a bear. Poor gullible fool, he assumed that because it is called the Panda Bear it is actually a member of the bear family! Anyone who paid attention in elementary school knows that the Giant Panda is a member of the raccoon family. However, he would not back down. Much to my dismay, his fancy smart phone brought up an onslaught of articles exposing the scandal that for years students were fed the lie that the Giant Panda is really a raccoon. Scientists have since determined that, as common sense would suggest, the Giant Panda is and always has been a bear. Now I learn that the tongue map concept (that salty, sweet, sour, and bitter tastes register in four distinct regions of the tongue) was disproved in 1974 (one wonders why it took so long). The tongue map idea was always hard for me to swallow since it never held true for my own tongue. However, I do remember being taught the tongue map more than a decade beyond 1974. Next thing you know they'll be telling me that dinosaurs (i.e. terrible lizards) are not actually lizards… oh, wait.

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1 comment:

  1. Here are the addresses for the YouTube videos: