Lessons from Another Species.


My Ruby Dog is ageing very fast all of a sudden. One minute I had a beautiful, agile Kelpie who could outrun almost anyone and anything, and the next, she’s walking into glass doors, and can’t hear me when I call. When I clap and yell loudly to get her attention, she runs in the EXACT opposite direction. 

Ruby senses that she cannot manage on her own anymore. So, on our walks, if I wander off and let go of her leash, she will stop, stand at attention and await my return …  only moving when she once again feels the gentle pressure of my hand on her leash, guiding her forward. She is such a sweet example of adaptation and acceptance. 

“Her skin is in fabulous condition,” said Alastair the Vet, as he stroked Ruby at a recent checkup. “And her fur, really great,” he continued approvingly. “She’s also in good shape, I can see a great curve in her waistline, and her teeth and gums are very healthy. So is her heart,” he added, as he put the stethoscope away.

It’s so nice to know that despite being unable to see and hear, her skin, fur, teeth, gums and heart are healthy, and she has a lovely waist!

Proud as I was of my blind and deaf dog, I almost wished someone had said something similar about my skin, fur, heart and waist. Unfortunately, my cholesterol is elevated. My sister gave me hair products for my birthday as a subtle nudge. And my waist is becoming increasingly barrel-shaped. So THAT observation ain’t going to happen anytime soon!

Ageing. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently. 

I was born with nice hands – slender and long-fingered. One could say, the hands of an artist (who didn’t do any work!). Of course, the length of my fingers remain unchanged, but they are now considerably less slender. My knuckles seem to have a mind of their own, and have swollen for no apparent reason. And my skin? Well, I now possess the hands of an artist who works hard and doesn’t take care of my skin. Rough and wrinkly, my hands don’t seem to match my arms. Constantly covered in paint and gesso and various mediums, they haven’t stood a chance against the rigours of twenty years of art-making. 

Perhaps my hands are keeping pace with my spine: A recent MRI showed so much degeneration in my vertebrae that I wondered how I was still standing up. No wonder I love my couch so much. 

Ageing.

I could always rely on my late husband, Greg, to tell me the truth. At times he’d just stay quiet instead of saying what he actually thought, but Greg never lied, not even to save my feelings. This drove me to distraction at times, but not this one time.

It was Wednesday, May 14th, 2014, his last day of consciousness. I was told he might only have hours to live. I was stroking his hand and saying my goodbyes. His skin was icy, and I found myself gently observing,

“Your hands are so cold!”

And he replied, eyes shut, his voice as clear as a bell,

 “Your hands are so rough!”

Aaah Greg. Truthful to the end. And you made me laugh even as you were leaving me.

Greg handled ageing with grace. He embraced every single milestone. And when Death came calling, thirty years earlier than it should have, he embraced that.

His art – his music – kept him alive in the true sense of the word. He used the Divine power of Creativity to navigate the fires of cancer hell. That and Love. Love for life, for everyone around him, for his faith, for God. 

I’m still a little cross at him for leaving me, when we were supposed to get old and wrinkly together… And just today, I bawled into my coffee as I watched something beautiful that he would have loved. But I am still grateful that I got to experience the kind of messy, imperfect love that we shared for three decades.

Now, as I enter my seventh year without Greg, I look at my hands and my life and wonder. Is it possible I’m at peace with ageing, in a way that I never previously was?

Perhaps the grace with which Greg handled his last years, the grace with which my Ruby Dog is handling her blindness … maybe it’s all (finally) sinking in. 

Ruby places such trust in me to guide her. It has been an example to me that we all have this Guidance, even when we can’t see it. I see myself using her as an example of how to tackle the “blindness” that life’s uncertainty brings: 

Be still. Be patient. And trust you will be guided.

 

Painting by Malini Parker

And now for something I rarely do outside of exhibitions: introduce one of my own paintings! I’d like you to meet: AWAKENING!

At every season of life, there is potential inside each and every one of us, and none of us have reached it yet. I wanted to paint something of that unseen realm: what is inside, waiting to be birthed. 

My beautiful, seemingly endless eucalyptus forest is a daily reminder to me of that potential. As I prepare for the coming bushfire season, clearing the forest understory and burning away the dead, flammable matter, something else is happening. I find I am now able to walk under the trees and feel the forest awakening, as the earth is uncovered from decades of detritus. 

My forest is awakening, as am I.

AWAKENING is textured and evocative, painted on wood. It measures 90cm by 60 cm (about 35 x 23 inches). If this painting calls to your heart, it can be yours, securely packaged and shipped anywhere in the world. AUD $950 (about USD $690) + postage and handling. If you’d like to make an enquiry or purchase AWAKENING (payment plans can be arranged), please email me info@maliniparker.com, I’d love to hear from you!

With love

art classes perth
art classes perth
PS COMING UP IN MY STUDIO:

Are many art classes and workshops for you to make your own stunning and unique art, as 2020 rolls to a close, or as the New Year begins! Could it be that there is much creativity to be unleashed from within you? Or could an art workshop make a unique and creative gift for a loved one… check them out here: MALINI’S ART CLASSES and you can book your spot online, or email me info@maliniparker.com for a personalised, stunning Gift Certificate

Comments 14

    1. Post
      Author

      How great that we can both learn lessons from each other and from our fur-children, Yvonne! And thank you so much for being here.

  1. you lie about the aging look!! I think you are looking pretty damn good !!!
    and the hair well the same sister did recommend to me a hair product that she enjoys, which I am grateful for, so don’t take it personally.
    That painting is beautiful and would awaken in anyone the peaceful beauty and grandeur of the bush into a home. It would make some lucky person feel happy and connect with the beauty of the forest.
    I hope it finds its new permanent home.

    1. Post
      Author

      Haha! Looks like she’s doling out the hair products willy-nilly 🙂 I’m definitely taking it personally though! (only kidding!). Thank you for your kind words about ‘Awakening’. And for helping me uncover the beauty of my forest!

  2. This made me laugh! Nobody wld guess you were disintegrating as you look so good! But the deeper message of trusting in Guidance is a take home gem, as we all disintegrate slowly but surely. Love, love that painting, and I hope it goes to a deserving home!

    1. Post
      Author

      Thank you, thank you (from the painting and from the painter!) And yes, we are all “disintegrating” even as we become stronger and more ‘integrated’ within! (and I never expected so many compliments by just having a good old whinge, but I’m taking them all 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Malini. They turned out to be another gentle reminder to me of the path of ‘most importance’ – me, that I’m walking at the moment. To be quiet and still, to listen within for peace and guidance. I love love love your painting as the orange shadows feel like the unseen guidance that we can all access and trust. I know it will be valued and cherished.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Penny, thank you so much for sharing those lovely thoughts… and for your kind words about my painting. I really liked your interpretation of it! It’s always rewarding to know what others can see or feel in a painting. Take care x

  4. As usual a great read…..God bless Ruby, so special are our pets (mates). I get you in regard to the ageing process, annoying, painful and unattractive!
    These quotes/sayings are A bit of fun……my Dad used to say ……”everyone (if they’re lucky) gets a turn at every number!” And “Old age and cunning will outshine youth and skill.”

    I was out with my Mum of 86 and I saw a gorgeous young lady. I said wouldn’t you kill to be like that and she said …..”nah been there done that”…..cracked me up!

    Have a great evening…bottom line we are blessed to get a chance to age
    Kind regards
    Vicki xx

    Sent from my iPad

    On 12 Nov 2020, at 5:28 pm, Malini Parker wrote:

    1. Post
      Author

      It certainly is a blessing to “get the chance” to age, no matter how many challenges it brings. A constant opportunity to re-frame and learn from what life brings us. And everything can change in an instant, which a recent car accident reminded me of! Thank you for your thoughts, Vicki! Much love x

  5. Painting has an angel ‘awakening’ someone asleep – at least that’s something I see in there.
    Re age –
    I’ve been saying for many. many years (as you well know) that I’m old! Love the age I am (turned 78 recently, so am really old), but not the white hair as it doesn’t go with my white face. One of my sisters told me I looked sick with white hair. If I had hair like yours, and you (and your sisters) good looks and figures, I wouldn’t complain. At least hubby seems to think I’m ok (sometimes – haha!)

    The painting will find a great home I know – just like many others!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Robin, you’re so funny!! I think I’ll keep my hair black til I’m at least 78 too! You are both legends and I love you heaps! (can’t see the sleeping angel but the important thing is that you can!) xx

  6. Beautiful. This speaks to me. At 58, I feel my own disintegration acutely and still not knowing what I want to be when I grow up has life’s clock ticking so loudly, some days, it’s completely deafening. But also at 58, I am sage enough at least to appreciate that I have lived a small but privileged life seeing my grown children with my old and now very frail mother sitting at our Sunday dinner table, laughing, arguing, ‘throwing shade’ at each other, being family and living with love. Despite knowing my privilege, my days are a balancing act of ‘my life is full’ and ‘holy shit, my best days are over and I haven’t started living yet’ whilst passing a mirror which reflects a middle aged woman of now ample girth who can’t possibly be me.
    I write with my old, faithful, not a care in the world, beautiful dog sleeping at my side and realise she is the picture of how to live a life of contentment and grace.
    You are right, there is much to be learned from our best friends.
    ❤️

    1. Post
      Author

      Beautifully said, Athena. I think you have articulated what so much of us feel – a constant dance between gratitude for our life, our privilege, our daily blessings … and on the other hand, the challenges of inhabiting a body that doesn’t do what it once did! But then, which part of life wasn’t a dance between one thing and it’s exact opposite?! Much love to you and your furry bestie, from Ruby and me xx

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