There’s a hidden trail near my house in San Diego, that feels very remote and peaceful even though it’s right in the middle of town.
It’s a narrow path, with a high bluff on one side and a steep canyon on the other. Once you’re on it, all you can hear is the crunch of your feet on the ground.
And once you’re on it, you either complete the walk or you turn around and go back out. It’s about 3 miles from beginning to end and there are no exits along the way.
I’m always surprised that so few people use it – on weekdays, I never see a soul. It’s become the perfect place for a regular walking meditation.
But there’s one thing I don’t enjoy about these walks and it’s the lack of wildlife! The only animals I see are an occasional hummingbird flitting by or tiny lizard dashing into the brush.
I used to live in Seattle, and one of the things I loved most about my walks there was that there were so many cats strolling around. It was always so much fun to charm a cat into coming over to let me pet it and soak in some nice kitty energy!
But here in Southern California, there are so many coyotes, all the cats have to stay indoors, or they’re not in their earthly cat bodies for too much longer.
Because I travel so much, I can’t have pets and I really miss having animals in my life. So a while back, as I was walking the trail, I was feeling sorry for myself, reminiscing about my Seattle walks.
Suddenly I spotted something ahead of me on the path. And I couldn’t believe my eyes! Far down the trail, a cat was just strolling along.
Oh the joy!
I sped up to catch up with it, and started using my embarrassing singsong cat voice that I never use in front of people – but which always works like a charm to draw cats to come rub against my ankles. “Hiiiii, kitty! Oh, aren’t YOU beautiful! What a gorgeous cat you are, so pretty, hiiii puss!’
The cat stopped, turned around and stood looking at me. I walked even faster to reach it before it lost interest.
But something was going wrong. Something was really off with the perspective. As I got closer, the bushes and rocks near the cat were getting predictably larger.
But the cat – the cat was getting much larger, much too fast.
And then I stopped in my tracks. It wasn’t a cat. It was a mountain lion!
It dawned on me that I was trapped. To the left was a drop into the canyon. To the right was the high wall of the bluff. The other end of the trail was 1.5 miles behind me. What were the odds that if I started backing away that the mountain lion wouldn’t come at me?
It stood there, still looking at me. It didn’t seem to be on alert or ready to attack. But I didn’t want to be a fool. This was a wild animal and just because I approached it with total love, didn’t mean that it wouldn’t decide to make me lunch.
Wow, was this it for me? It seemed like time stopped as I stood there, trying to think of what to do. But my mind was a blank.
And then – in a flash, a man on a bicycle blew down the path toward me, from behind the mountain lion. The terrified cat leapt into the air in a high arc and streaked down into the canyon.
On that path, where I’d never encountered another human on a weekday, at the exact moment I needed salvation.
As he raced past me, he shouted at me like I had done something stupid, “LADY! There’s a mountain lion!”
My heart in my throat, I quickly walked to the end of the path, looking over my shoulder, and only breathed free again when I was standing out on the concrete.
So this certainly could be a lesson about expectations – about how you can go into a situation with a mindset that can blur your perceptions, incline you to make assumptions and overlook warning signs.
And so your heart gets broken or a job doesn’t work out as you hoped.
But this experience was even more of a mirror for me.
Some people say that everything that happens in your external world is a reflection of what’s going on in your inner world.
The day I took that walk, it was to think about a decision to hire someone to work on a project.
This person came across as warm, friendly, adorable, a real pussycat. So I went ahead and hired them.
But over the next few months, they turned out to be pretty wildly emotional, so much so that their moods prevented them from doing their work, but they still charged me thousands of dollars. And in the end, I was relieved to get out of the agreement as easily as I did.
I’d gone on my walk, thought I saw a pussycat but it turned out to be a wild animal. It may seem too much like “magical thinking” to connect the two experiences, and I’m certainly left-brained enough to always be skeptical about things like this.
But these mirroring experiences have happened far too often in my life to disregard. Sometimes it’s only in hindsight that I recognize the message, yet each is still a great lesson in trusting the deeper mystery of how what we see around us is just a reflection.
My work with Chinese face reading is based on the concept that your face is a reflection of who you are inside, and that it can be read to translate that inner reality. Why wouldn’t that understanding then extend to your outer world as well, as a mirror of where you currently stand in life?
What experience will you have today and how can you recognize the deeper message it may have for you?
(And if you have a cat, can I rent it for a day or so, just to get a fix?)