5 life lessons I learned from my cat.
Meet Winter, one of four animals that keep me company while I create In my studio. Winter has a beautiful calm presence that makes me happy as I work. Lately, when I look at her, I realise something echos deep within me, perhaps it is a longing to be just like her. Examining these feelings I arrived at the belief that she has got some things in life very very right.
In everything she does Winter is fully focused and present. For example, seeing Winter drink from her water bowl is particularly lovely. She carefully places her paw into the bowl, touches the water and takes her time, lapping slowly. She is so unlike me who gulps down what I have in my hand and feel surprised when my glass is empty. (I don’t drink alcohol so no, it isn’t because I am drunk, lol). To be more like Winter I need to slow down, feel the temperature of the drink, appreciate it’s flavour and make a moment of the simple act of drinking. To be present to what I am doing, even in everyday tasks, is one first way I can become like Winter.
My border collie Lucy will do anything to please. She is really obedient and always ready to do whatever I wish. It seems her happiness is to obey me and make me happy. It is a really endearing quality but I think Winter has a more healthy independence and doesn’t put all her waking moments into waiting to make someone else happy. With this independence Winter has clear boundaries. She lets me know how she feels at any given moment. If she doesn’t want a pat she will move away. If she wants food, she will meow and try to take the lid off her food container. She expresses herself clearly and takes responsibility for what she needs and wants (as much as a pet is able). No second guessing required. With her approach I know she is where she wants to be. I know she is happy when she is sitting by my side and enjoying a pat, because if she didn’t want to be there she wouldn’t be. To be like Winter, with independence and boundaries, myself, and those around me know I am truely where I need and want to be at that moment.
SIT WITH OTHERS
Connection with other people I regard as one of our great purposes in life. Yet connection doesn’t necessarily mean talking. Winter is deaf. Although she can’t hear, she will sit with my daughter every time she plays the piano or guitar. Perhaps the vibrations are pleasant for her? Or maybe it is the act of creating that she is drawn to, as she also sits with me when I paint. Whatever the reason, her company brings me and my daughter such joy. So even if you can’t talk, simply being near others can be good for you. I am writing this in the time of Covid 19 lockdown and I feel very sad for those people in complete isolation. I hope it is over soon and every person can sit beside another being very soon.
BE IN MY BODY
The way Winter moves fascinates me. She stretches with such satisfaction, can get into the most strange and twisted positions, leap from completely standing still onto high shelves, she walks with light elegance through our home. She is so in tune with her body and what it can do. Often, I seem to exist only in my head. I force my body to do things and ignore how my body really feels. Can I be like Winter and be at one with my body more? I can start to do this by being more aware, how am I walking, rushed or slow, straight or hunched, how did I feel stretching just then, or did I just yawn?
Winter seems to luxuriate in being cosy. Lying on the middle of my art table, perched on a sunny windowsill, curled up on the feather filled cushion, spread languidly across the floor, Winter always looks comfortable. I have obsessively taken many photos of winter over the two years we have had her. Many of those have been her of her curled up asleep. I realised these images are to me a representation of deeply felt comfort. This image is a reminder for myself to appreciate the things that bring me comfort. Yet not just appreciate them but to luxuriate in them. What brings you comfort?
Thank you Winter for being in my life and teaching me by just being you.