Too Many Kittens

A recurring dream, which last night became a nightmare: I’m in a house that looks vaguely like my own, only it’s filthy. There’s a vague sense that I’m trying to pack up and move out.

Now, I’ll be the first to grant that I’m not the best housekeeper in the world, but the only rooms that ever are this bad in real life are my bedroom and occasionally my office, and they’re more cluttered than dirty. But in the dream, the whole house is thick with dustbunnies, grime, strange objects (like my parents’ old bowling trophies), books, papers, Cheetos (which I don’t even eat)—and kittens.

Somewhere along the way I have received a litter or litters of kittens, but (a) I keep forgetting about them, so I leave them for days on end to fend for themselves, which is making them feral, and (b) they are so tiny that a couple of them are easily mistaken for dustbunnies.

The two newest kittens—where they keep coming from I have no idea—disappear with shocking ease in the clutter and filth, but once they are allowed into the main house (instead of on the back porch where they have apparently been staying), they have a habit of peeing on the rugs, so at least I can tell where they have been recently, if not where they are currently. And they pee copiously, about ten times the amount a kitten that size would produce.

The meaning is pretty clear, I think: responsibilities that I cannot shirk because they are living things keep appearing in my life unbidden, but I’m so overwhelmed that I can’t keep track of them all, and I fear they will grow into wild creatures if left unattended. Meanwhile I busy myself with making sense out of the chaos while I prepare to begin a new chapter of my life (the image of packing to move). If these responsibilities escape my control, they leave telltale and messy signs of their presence, but they are so elusive that I can’t get a hold on them.

Yup, that’s pretty much my life these days.

Maybe because they’re normally cute and cuddly things that become nasty and dangerous, or maybe because they look like dustbunnies in the dream, I woke up thinking of this bit from the song “I’ve Got a Theory,” from the “Once More With Feeling” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Categories: Animals, Dreams | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Too Many Kittens

  1. indigo bunting

    So the kittens were breeding like dustbunnies.

    And what is so much pussy doing in your dreams anyway?

    You know how I feel about this song. (Actually, I’m in season 5 of Buffy right now and should be viewing this ep soonish.)

    I like Cheetos. Sick, hunh? The good news is I never buy them.

    I’m a tad disjointed these days. Can you tell?

  2. The term for being presented with things we need to deal with but would rather not, if I were to believe Master Ni, is “life,” and it runs the gamut from illness to creative leaps and draws.

    Sometimes we take on something we like, or, more often, like the idealized, imagined version of, and then find we are dealing with the minutia of it.

    But that is our lot because we breathe. And the only way to change it is to change how we look at it and a change in how we feel will follow. And, anyway, no matter what we do, it ends in daisies. Or a light dusting on the ground and a few more particles adding to few more glorious sunsets.

    As for me, nothing I do takes as long as my anticipation of it and my playing out of it again and again and again. I can spend six hours in a sleepless night thinking about, running over something, playing out the scenario of a task that, the next morning, yawning and bleary, takes me an hour to do.

    I’ve said this before but, since it’s one of the few things I DO know, I’ll say it again: Buddhists talk about “suffering.” That is a mistranslation for which we can thank the German Romantics. The Tibetans use a word the word that translates to “friction.”

    Without friction, you can’t walk, drive, hold a shovel, or do most anything. We need friction. Sometimes it gets in the way, but try living without it. But, how we feel about is is another story. We can curse it, act as though life would be great without it, bemoan the fact it exists, spend our time attached to the illusion we could have a life without it or spend our time imagining it gone while everything falls apart, is rubbed raw, because we are not dealing with the friction that is.

    Friction causes dustbunnies. Only friction can clean them.

    We might as well like it.

  3. Who is Master Ni? Shall I invite him to dinner?

    I hadn’t heard that “suffering” was a mistranslation. Love the idea of “friction” as a replacement.

  4. That bit of info came from a translator. It is tradition that Tibetan teachers teach in Tibetan even when they speak English. The translator, also a monk, of a Rinpoche told me that a while ago.

    I then read the same thing in an issue of Shambhala Sun. I still have all my copies and I can dig it out if you want to read it. I think it is the same issue that has an article called “Getting Hooked” which is about shenpo, or that thing which “hooks” us even though we know it does, we see it coming but we end up a fish dangling on the line. Habits, buttons. All hooks.

    And it has the short bit on how much we can thank (insert international sign for sarcasm) the German Romantics for the common Western misunderstandings about Buddhism.

    From Buddhism, by Smith and Novak:

    Dukkha, then, names the pain that to some degree colors all finite existence. The word’s constructive implications come to light when we discover that it was used in Pali to refer to wheels whose axles were off center or bones that had slipped from their sockets. (A modern metaphor might be a shopping cart we try to steer from the wrong end.) The exact meaning of the First Noble Truth is this: Life (in the condition it has got itself into) is dislocated. Something has gone wrong. It is out of joint. As its pivot is not true, friction (interpersonal conflict) is excessive, movement (creativity) is blocked, and it hurts.

    Look for the word “friction” here.

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