Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Things the old cat teaches me

The Magnificent Maurice Mittens - my role model
Somebody asked me why I gravitate to helping seniors. I have always gravitated to senior people since I was little. I don't know why. I think somethings are unknowns, and why we do it is less important than recognizing how meaningful it feels when we do it. Working with seniors-creatures and people-feels meaningful, so I continue. I'm not trying to heal old wounds of childhood or family relationships. I just really dig elders. And I really gravitate to them emotionally.

I think of all the senior or special needs animals that have come and gone at Apifera, and how significant their presence was-to me and visitors. If we could all just get second chances, to be recognized for our souls, not necessarily our aged bodies, vessels that don't appeal to the popular marketplace.

As I near sixty next spring, my earth vessel is no longer pretty. I can say that now. I fought it a bit these past couple years. I really could not tell what I looked like anymore. I'd see a photo of me wen I was...say, 55...that's not so far from being 59. But how different I perceived myself to look. I think, for me anyway, there have been stages or passages in my almost sixty years, that took me time to settle into the new me and say goodbye of the old me. Not just the evolving interior of me, but the changing exterior of me-the aging me. I like to think I got about twenty years of looking in the mirror and feeling good at the physical reflection, that's not so bad. But starting about 57, I was really struggling with...my appearance. I felt like I lost what I once saw, and didn't know what I saw in the present form.I think that was part of the reason I chopped my hair off spontaneously-those flying braid clumps were in a lot of paintings of my younger days. I needed some lighter clumps to go with my aging vessel.

I've never really thought of aging as something to fear. The number '60' doesn't really upset me, because I have created a life of meaning. But for some reason, this transition, as far as my outward appearances go, is the one I've struggled with the most. And I always come back to the same internal dialogue-you are healthy, you have love, you have work, people remember your smile and laughter and how you make them feel, not the you look a certain age.

I suppose at some point I will meld into my new body-the fifteen pounds heavier body that try as I may will not shed an ounce. I just have to believe that there is this point that I will look in the mirror or see a photo, and clearly know that is me, just like I did in my prime. Maybe? Maybe not.

And so when I sit with The Magnificent Maurice Mittens, I doubt he's examining my looks, unless it's my body language. He's gotten another chance here, to have a life of meaning amongst the Apifera elders. He will be petted and cared for and make people happy. He can continue to be a cat, just an older version of himself.

"How glorious to go through life without examining one's looks and age all the time." I told him this morning. "But by the way, you look magnificent."

He reminds me that as I age I get another chance, daily, to let my soul shine no matter what my exterior vehicle is looking like. No matter how much examining I do of the reflection in the mirror, its just a vessel. I don't leave it behind, I leave my deeds and art and soul impacts behind.