So I had this epic plan to have an unprecedented stream of posts that would all tie together in a flurry of fascinating insight around the end of February and into March.  You can see the evidence of that (at least of the unprecedented number of posts if not the insight) in the three posts before this one.

And then a wave of entropy and dukkha hit, and that all fell apart.  Nothing dramatic, and nothing really worth getting into.  But isn’t that the point?  Even when you aren’t dealing with unforseen calamities, it’s still hard to keep things together on a high level.  It doesn’t take much to throw you off.  I find that if I get pulled out of a week of flow, it takes a lot of time and effort to get back to that level of mental synthesis.  Too much of what Max and I refer to as быт, or the nature of everyday life (here‘s a good translation of a very useful word I learned from this book), and even those of us who like to cruise at 30,000 feet will have to land.  And it’s not always easy to take off again.

I’d hoped to be back at the top of my game by now, but I’m not, because the latest manifestation of dukkha in my life is a frontal sinus infection.  Which is giving me severe brain fog.  Which wreaks havoc on my ability to string thoughts together insightfully, or sometimes even coherently.  Siiiigh.  A few weeks ago I was pumped about adding Russian speakers ranging from Sergei Kiriyenko to Yevegenia Medvedeva to my Twitter feed to brush up on my Russian, and now I’m having trouble remembering words in English.

I also wanted to, you know, keep this blog at a higher posting level, which is not only necessary to maintain readership but close to essential to bringing topics close enough together to make seemingly disparate topics cohere meaningfully.

But I know what to do!  This is the Internet!  CAT PHOTOS TO THE RESCUE!

And this, dear readers, is actually quite on topic.  See, my cats, Alyosha and Calliope, have been helping me understand the various forms that dukkha can take.  Take Alyosha, for instance.  The poor little guy appears to have some kind of kitty anxiety disorder.  He is afraid of even Max and me when we are vertical.  He only likes horizontal people, and will appear on the couch the minute one of us lies down, in search of a good tummy rub.

This is about as unalarmed as Alyosha ever looks, except for the aforementioned tummy rubs.

In his constant anxiety, Alyosha epitomizes the Buddhist notion of aversion, which is just a negative form of craving.  And craving, we remember, is the source of dukkha.

Here’s Alyosha again after I made the danger level too high for the craving for tummy rubs to be met by sitting up on the couch:


Calliope, on the other hand, gives us more of a classic illustration of craving.  If dukkha means unsatisfactoriness, she is truly the Poster Cat for dukkha.  She is a highly gifted cat who needs constant stimulation, as you can see when she sits on Max’s papers when he is studying Ancient Greek, or meowing insistently when I am at the computer until I take her for a walk in the hallway.

She has a way of flopping on the floor and staring at you when the unsatisfactoriness of life is getting to be too much.

Hello!  I have a craving for cat treats!

Ignoring her doesn’t make her go away.

Oh!  You made eye contact!  Treats, then?  Or perhaps open the door to the balcony?

She will eventually go and start scratching the window or the cupboard or the wall until you give in.  I’ve started trying to resist, but in the case documented in the photographs, the kitty dukkha just continued to mount.  As you can see the next morning:


Clearly, the cats have learned to take advantage of my efforts to practice loving kindness toward all beings.

And now I have to use my few functioning brain cells to go deal with some other parts of the giant pile of unsatisfactoriness that is my life these days.  I do have some posts in the works that I think you’ll enjoy, so please forgive the delay!  I hope these dukkhats (get it?  Ha ha!  That’s not a real Buddhist term, but it should be) will tide you over.

Meanwhile, azithromycin is my friend.  I’ll be back soon after it kicks in.



5 thoughts on “Dukkhats!

  1. Delightful, Jessie! Alyosha and Calliope are quite the characters. I think you did pretty well to fight through the brain fog and write a post that will have many people smiling.
    I hope you feel better soon. Sinus infections suck. Take good care!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Ro! It took me longer to write this than it may seem, but plowing through the brain fog felt like a victory. I hope you’re right and that it gives some people a smile. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel with you and can imagine how disturbing and debilitating this infection is. In my former life I suffered from persistent headache, though the memories about this period are slowly fading.

    I’ve also stopped blogging and have no idea when I will post something again. In my case it’s the garden work. Thousands of early season weeds (like fig buttercup, common chickweed) have to be eliminated right now because in a week or two, when all the other plants wake up and sprouts appear everywhere, it will be nearly impossible to detect them.

    Weeding will go on to a lesser extent till autumn, but the slugs are getting busy soon and then comes irrigation. I should also do some replanting, transplanting, pruning, clearing.

    I love being in the garden or in the forest, I can work there for many hours without getting tired. It’s fascinating to watch the interplay of millions of living beings. Sitting on the computer and writing blog posts is quite unappealing compared to that.

    This morning I woke up with the first paragraphs of a new post in my mind:

    They shall be blessed and dispossessed

    They worked hard for the success of their business. They had the right connections of course. They were lucky, they made the right bets in the big casino of the competitive free market. They told the right people (the ones with lot of money to invest) the right things, they convinced them of their business model, of their vision. The vision was “big profits.”

    Big profits, this is undoubtedly the most appealing vision in a world where money means everything. The welfare of the people, a harmonious, peaceful society, a healthy, thriving natural environment, these are lofty goals, but one cannot buy a superyacht, a private island, a luxury mansion in London, Las Vegas, Monaco from that. One cannot get a trophy wife and pay the most attractive mistresses from that. One cannot jet around the world and meet with other high flying persons in Davos.

    I was able to write these paragraphs down, but when I looked out of the window at the sun rising above the trees I lost the thread. Somebody else will have to continue. Or maybe I do it on a rainy day.

    You are not the only indisposed blogger. Hope you get better soon!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mato, thank you for dropping by, for the well wishes, and for the thoughtful comments you’ve made! I haven’t been able to respond promptly because of sinus-induced brain fog, but I’m slowly catching up and will do so before long, starting with this one.

      Oh wow, I really wish I could go outside and work in a garden. Moving from a suburb of Detroit into downtown DC has made me really miss the outdoors. I never spent all that much time in nature, but even the trees around my parents’ house in a subdivision added to my quality of life. I’m trying to figure out where Max and I could go that’s somewhat nearby to feel surrounded by nature, even just for a short while. Suffice it to say, I see why you might pass on blogging to spend time in your garden! Even though I do love the introduction to your potential future post. And actually, it relates pretty well to my upcoming post on socialism as community…. Maybe I can use it. 🙂

      Thanks again for dropping by and adding so much to the discussions!


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