The gentle sound of snoring came from somewhere in the room. ‘Do you hear it, Phil?’ ‘The couch? No behind the couch’ We peered over the back. The neighbor’s dog enjoying an undisturbed afternoon sleep.
‘Oh, it’s you again!’ He looked up, drowsily, unwillingly. ‘Come on, you have to go. You can’t stay here.’He staggered to his feet, and walked in slow motion unsteadiness out of the living room, just like Beggar So, the Drunken Master in the Jackie Chan film.
He got as far as the kitchen and dropped wearily. I tried to lift him up on his legs. A dead weight. Phil and I got down on all fours, me at the top, him at the bottom. We slid him towards the hall. After the hall there was just the porch and then out through the front door.
I did feel guilty. I never found out how old he was but I am guessing at least ninety human years, maybe even a hundred. Skinny, slow, rheumy, I hope I’m as healthy at ninety. But he wasn’t really in the mood for the great outdoors and a walk home even though if it was only a hundred metres. Only for me!
Taking in the environment he saw his last chance. Between the kitchen and the hall there was a dividing strip along the floor, one centimetre high, just a line of beading really. He stretched one lazy leg out and touched the beading, the gentlest touch of his forepaw. We jolted to a stop.
We pushed, we lifted. We lifted ourselves that is, and pushed ourselves. He moved not one millimetre. He looked back at us pityingly. ‘Grasshopper why do you strain? Where is your dan tien?. Look! Wu wei is here, actionless action. Just one claw of one paw and the two of you are helpless. Are you the best that humanity has to offer? Man’s best friend but will you listen? “Four legs good, two legs bad”, as your George Orwell had it in Animal Farm.’
I gave up.
Phil is made of sterner stuff and can stoop lower than I can. He got low, so low, put his arms under the Ki Master, hugged him to this chest and slowly, so slowly, picked him up – all twenty kilos of him.
He surrendered gracefully, the lesson given, the inevitable flow of life leading to another impermanent destination. Phil carried him out to the road and put him down tenderly. Without a backward glance he went on his way.
It was years ago. He has long since moved off the wheel, into the formless realms. Thank you Master.
Eric Kiernan Hummingbird Dojo Eric Kiernan Hummingbird Dojo Eric Kiernan Hummingbird Dojo Eric Kiernan Hummingbird Dojo Eric Kiernan Hummingbird Dojo Eric Kiernan Hummingbird Dojo Eric Kiernan Hummingbird Dojo Eric Kiernan Hummingbird Dojo Eric Kiernan Hummingbird Dojo Eric Kiernan Hummingbird Dojo Eric Kiernan Hummingbird Dojo Eric Kiernan Hummingbird Dojo Eric Kiernan Hummingbird Dojo