⟨ Wabi Sabi ⟩

Harmony, Prudence, Purity, and Tranquility

Cat and Zen

Words and Photography / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

「貓真是可愛啊。」凝視著在地板上滾來滾去的貓Nyaro,翻出肚皮時,不禁自言自語。

表情正經地做著蠢事,聲音溫婉地討吃的;盯著飛行的昆蟲時滿帶執念,昆蟲飛走了卻不見婉惜;冬季時逕自鑽進被窩裡,夏季時把身體最大量的展開貼在地面;貓總能找到怡然自得的生活方式。

Nyaro的自由自在,有時卻會燃起我的怒意。於深夜時,大家都在床上熟睡的時候,原本昏昏欲睡的貓就突然蠢蠢欲動了。俏俏地徘徊在枕邊,俏俏地將嘴巴湊近,一把咬住頭髮,一扯……「NYARO!」忘記了己是深夜,我怒吼起來:「別玩了!」

越與之對抗,牠卻越興奮。把牠推到地上,牠一躍又跳回來。拿出牠討厭的液態止癢劑,濃烈的薄荷味把牠惹怒了,皺著眉用力往止癢劑拍打,還好牠還是知道不得傷害握著止癢劑的我,沒伸出爪來,可是忽然又弓著背在被子上躍跳怒視……跟牠對抗得累了,連夜不能好睡,某天晚上,我決定嘗試獲得牠的體諒。

「Nyaro,你這樣我們沒辦法睡,明天會很累啊,而且你若在深夜狂奔的話,住樓下的人會感到很困擾呢。你現在好好去睡一下,明天醒來再跟你玩,好嗎?」我壓低聲音說,牠居然就真的安靜了,靠在門邊,躺了下來,緩緩地向我眨著眼。我感激著Nyaro的懂事,終算能盒上眼睛,聽著鈴蟲的叫聲,以及彼此的呼吸,模模糊糊地睡去。

我想起茶道的一句話,和敬清寂,茶會的主客互相尊重禮讓,身心俱淨,任何時刻內心都平靜而不為所動,這是茶道所追求的境界。在我體諒Nyaro不過是一時貪現的心境時,牠也體諒了我的睡意。當然,翌日我並不能為帶奉著香濃的抺茶或甜美的菓子,只能用一小個吞拿魚罐頭來慶祝我們的「和」與「敬」。

“Cats are so adorable.” Watching my cat Nyaro rolling on the ground and exposing her belly, I could not help mumbling it to myself.

Doing silly things with a serious looking face, asking for food in a gentle voice, insisting to catch a flying insect but wouldn’t care less when the insect is gone, burrowing into the bed during winter time, stretching all limbs on the floor during summer… Cats simply have their own ways to please themselves.

The bohemian style of Nyaro would sometimes get on my nerves. When everyone is sound asleep in the middle of the night, the sleepy cat would suddenly get into action and quietly creep to the bed. He would move his face closer to my pillow and all of a sudden take a bite at my hair and pull vigorously… “Nyaro!” I shouted at the top of my voice, “Don’t mess around!”, regardless it was quite late at night.

The more I tried to act against his will, the more excited he got. He jumped right up once I pushed him down. I then brought out the antipruritic that he hates; he was irritated by the smell of mint and smacked the bottle with an angry face. Luckily, he was aware not to use his claws so as not to hurt me. Instead, Nyaro arched his back and jumped onto the blanket to continue staring at me. I was exhausted from fighting him. There were so many nights that I could not sleep well. One night, I have decided to make peace with him.

“Nyaro, we cannot sleep if you don’t behave. Tomorrow would be a hard day for us. Our neighbors downstairs would also be bothered if you run around at such a late hour. Why don’t you go and get a good sleep now then we will play again with you tomorrow. How about that?” I speak in a low voice and somehow he really got quiet and lay down by the door, while slowly blinking at me. I was so grateful for his understanding and finally close my eyes. Amidst the sound of bell crickets and our breath, I was defeated by my drowsiness.

I suddenly recalled the motto of tea ceremony — harmony, prudence, purity, and tranquility. In a tea ceremony, there is a mutual respect between the host and the guest when purifying the body and the soul. The ultimate state of tea ceremony is to remain calm in all circumstances. On one hand, I accepted Nyaro’s frisky nature, on the other hand, he accepted the fact that I was sleepy. The next day, I surely could not show my gratitude by offering fragrant matcha or tasty wagashi; all I could do was to offer him a small can of tuna to celebrate our harmony and prudence.