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Exploring Airman's Cave

We sat in the tiny passageway, exhausted. Our muscles were fatigued from overuse. We were over a mile deep into the cave, hours away from the surface, hours away from food, and hours away from water. Had our curiousity finally gotten the best of us? For the first time ever, I was worried for my life. I couldn't imagine dying, but making it out of the cave seemed even less likely.

It started months ago. After exploring the small caves at Enchanted Rock, we were eager to tackle something a bit more challenging. A search on the internet led us quickly to Airman's Cave - perhaps the most well known cave in Austin. What we didn't know at the time was that it was also an advanced level cave. Few members of the caving community in Austin would attempt the cave. With an average ceiling of 18", Airman's cave was a full 2.5 miles long. But we didn't really know that either. In fact, we knew nothing of caves or caving.

To access the cave, we had to take a hike down a dry creekbed and search for it. After wandering around for a while we spotted a large opening on the hill. That was it.

A Zen Moment With My Cat

On Zenthusiasm

I recently encountered a profound experience with my cat, Buddy. Buddy is an male orange tabby, friendly and loves attention. But one thing he doesn't do is jump up on someone and lie down - he's not a lap cat. He's very content to just lie beside you on the floor, and be in my company, receiving scratches here and there when I reach out from the couch or chair I'm in.

Yesterday, I was laying on the couch, eyes closed, relaxing and breathing, trying to just take in and enjoy the moment. I was focusing on the sounds from outside that I could hear - birds singing, a lawnmower in the far distance. Cars on the street behind us passing by. I slowed my breathing, and counted each breath in, and out, practicing staying within myself.

Then, I felt something tap my hand. I opened my eyes, and there was Buddy, front paws up on the couch, and he had tapped my hand lightly with his paw. He was just staring at me. I reached up to pet him, assuming that's what he wanted and he moved his head aside. Strange, I thought, for a cat to avoid a head scratch. So, I let my hand return to laying on the couch and I just watched Buddy. He looked at me, look at my chest, looked at me again, and jumped up. He walked onto my chest, and curled up into a comfortable position.

Now, as I said, this is completely unlike him. He's never been comfortable lying on someone, yet here he was, doing it by his own choice.

I smiled, and closed my eyes again, and returned to my relaxation technique. Shortly afterwards, I became aware of Buddy's weight on my chest, his warmth, and the sounds of him very lightly purring. A wave of contentment rolled over me, and slowly as it did, Buddy's purring became more pronounced, which in turn spurred my contentment. Suddenly, both he and I were in a mutual positive spiral, his purring spurring on my positive feelings, and my positive energy spurring more pronounced purring. We laid like this for about 15 minutes, when I was forced to break from our experience, and take a washroom break.

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