Words by Indiarose Hanson
Growing up in Yorkshire I have always been surrounded by animals. Cats, dogs, horses – you name it. They have always been a part of my life. And I have always treasured their presence. But it was not until the unsettling news of coronavirus left me no choice but to stay home, with the animals, that I truly appreciated the art of animals. Coronavirus changed the world. The world felt fearful. Humans felt frightened. Economies broke down. Schools closed. University began online. Friends distanced. Loved ones far. The one thing that did not change was the animals in my life and their beautiful ability to live in the now.
For as long as I can remember my mind has been a busy place. Whether it’s worries about what I said in some silly argument as a child. Should I have said that? Constantly concerning myself over past events. Or deep into the future. Will I be financially stable? Will we solve the plastic crisis? Will poverty ever be solved? Busy. Always busy. Buddhism, self-help books, meditation, exercise – I have tried everything. But the mind still astray. Am I trying too hard to relax into nowness? Do I have time for this meditation? It never seems to end. My mind always battling my ability to connect to nowness. It was not until the coronavirus lockdown forced me back home to Yorkshire, back to the animals, that I connected to this beauty of nowness. And this experience of nowness. Something I can never say I have felt before. To me, was the truest form of art I have ever inhabited.
Coming home was difficult. My freedom suddenly stripped. I felt incredibly low at first – life was grey. I hit rock bottom. It was probably week 1 of me lounging around looking gloomy that my dad came into my room and said “routine, you need a routine, how about you walk the dog? Or go ride the horses?” and this conversation was honestly the start of my journey to nowness. I took up my dad’s idea, I walked the dog more, I sat with the cats, I rode the horses and I suddenly began feeling (dare I say it) HAPPY! Life felt whole, walking with Stan, my chunky golden Labrador, watching him frolic and play, tongue dangling and teeth grinning. Sitting with my two cats Chloe and Beckham, purring and fussing for cuddles. Riding Jack, a good friend of mines horse, a beautiful black cob, going on lovely adventures through the trees, with cracks of sunlight beaming through. I felt peace. Animals brought me peace. Regardless of what was happening in the world – I had animals to give me the gift of now. And treasure every second.
“There is no need to go elsewhere for the truth. Just go more deeply into what you already have in the moment of now” – Eckhart Tolle
Animals I believe are the truest artform there is. I felt good when spending time with the animals in my life, so of course found myself doing it more. And suddenly I connected to this idea of “nowness”. The more I walked Stan, the more time I spent with Chloe and Beckham and the more I rode Jack – the more I noticed something. Animals see the now. Stan didn’t worry whether he would walk tomorrow, he just knew he was walking right now. Chloe and Beckham, they purred and accepted each passing moment, regardless of my presence on the sofa with them or not. I would turn Jack out in the field and he always turned and gazed beyond me, just taking in this present time. And in recognising this, I really began to exercise it myself. I connected to the now.
I began to be present. I took in the moments I experienced. Each moment bringing no past or future. Each moment just a gift. I no longer walked to escape my thoughts. I walked, and each step taking in the tones of the trees, the loud magic of birds, the children laughing and playing. I took in each moment and had never felt so free. The artist within me suddenly unlocked. Poetry becoming general chat. Drawing becoming the dance of my pencil in the direction it chose. Art was me. Art was now. I really cannot thank animals enough for their gift of nowness. I feel lighter and brighter having been taught be these furry experts.
If like me, you have a busy mind, always wandering, never truly resting in the moment – I cannot express enough how much animals can help. Whether you have pets or not – just watching cows in a local field munch away or sitting at the park watching dogs fetch back tennis balls, tails wagging can really help. Just stop. Take in their outlook. They live for this, now, right this second. And you can too. And I truly believe you will. Your potential is within you to be present and the gifts that follow nowness are incredible. Creativity never felt so yours.