Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Great Minds On Forgiveness April 30, 2013

The great and infamous “they” say great minds think alike. I’m not so sure.

From what I have observed, there are a lot of great minds that have thought alike in the wrong kind of way. All it takes is a quick internet search of “stupid celebrity moments” or “celebrities say the darndest things,” and you will find some things that will change your philosophical perspective in the wrong direction.

Reflecting

Being in the limelight nonstop might start to affect people after a while, but I’m not sure that makes some of what happens excusable. Last year, names like Chris Brown, John Travolta, Halle Berry and even alleged lovebirds Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart made headlines for all the wrong reasons. More recently, Michael Richards (who is known best for his role as Kramer in the American comedic sitcom “Seinfeld,”) said some incredibly choice words that got him in incredibly hot water.

 

When the young people in society look up to celebrities whose names have unfortunately been linked with negativity, I can’t say I favor the result. What I can say for certain is I know I don’t necessarily agree with everything my philosophical mentors in life have to say, and I can’t say I’d change that. Mahatma Gandhi, for example, shared some religious beliefs I can’t say I agree with, but his theories are among the closest thoughts I hold to my heart.

“The weak can never forgive,” Gandhi said. “Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

Let’s face it. Celebrity or otherwise, we all make mistakes. Bad things happen to good people. But like another great thinker I tend to favor would say “a life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” Forgiveness is an attribute of strength as Gandhi would say.

Forgiveness is one thing. What comes from it is what makes it worthwhile. While the great and infamous “they” say great minds think alike, it is also known that great minds also make mistakes. I can say with honesty I don’t forgive and forget, but instead I prefer to forgive and learn. It’s what we learn from the mistakes of others and ourselves that makes us who we are.

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Life: One Breath At A Time April 29, 2013

The prolific and powerful American poet Emily Dickenson had a lot to say about life and death. It breaks my heart that most of her beautiful words didn’t reach the hearts and minds of readers until after she had left this world, but what a blessing they are nonetheless. So many of her poems continue to live by breathing life into the pages of historical literature.

“To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else,” she once said.

Indeed, life can take us by surprise in so many powerful ways if we let it. Sometimes I fear we are our own stopping points because we think don’t have time to stop and take notice about the life all around us. In 2001, a very nervous 15-year-old girl made her way onto a very large stage to take notice. She shared the following words with the crowd that day:Chronicles of Life

Savor the miracle of creation

Create a day with no regrets

Regret only the unforgiven

Forgive your loved ones for not being perfect

Perfect your ability to smile

Smile at everyone you love

Love even those who have become frail

Frailty is just another part of life

Live today as an unexpected journey

Journey through life with courage

Encourage someone who needs light

Lighten up the room with a laugh

Laugh through the tough times…

It keeps you from crying

Whatever you do in this life

Always remember that somewhere out there

Someone is loving you

I’m so blessed to have a forever mom who (at the tender age of 15-years-0ld) published these beautiful words she called “The Chronicles of Life.” She won an award that night on stage, and I it is one of my biggest wishes in life I could have been there to see her so happy. So full of life.

But as I am not in the habit of living with regrets (especially over things I can’t control), I instead share these words with the world on a day when Sarah Ban Breathnach encourages us in Simple Abundance to ponder life’s simplest of mysteries.

“And there is certainly enough mystery to ponder—such as the mystery of what will happen next,” Breathnach writes. “But instead of worrying or obsessing, you decide to just let go and see what occurs. You choose to take joy in your real life as it unfolds day by day, hour by hour, a heartbeat at a time.” Startling as it may be dear Emily, life is most definitely worth living one heartbeat at a time.

 

All the Small Things April 28, 2013

I figured it out! I know what we have to do. World peace is at our fingertips people! All we have to do is hug one another. All right, all right, I know I’m likely not the first one to throw this theory on the table, but please hear me out. The power is in the numbers.

Today I enjoyed 76 different petting sessions, made close to 20 people smile at least once, and spent more time being hugged and played with than by myself. That, my friends, is a good day. I’m certain I didn’t make anyone’s problems disappear, but peace was in the air in my favorite kind of way today.Small Smiles Make A Big Difference

All kidding aside, my experience today led me to wonder what the world would be like if we all committed to the theory to kill our enemies with kindness rather than violence. Perhaps one of the reasons the world is in the state it’s in is that people have stopped caring for each other. Something as small as a smile can make the day of the stranger on the street or a hug to somehow that just lived through an embarrassing moment. But not everyone chooses to engage in such the small things that make the world go round. It makes me squirm sometimes when people miss opportunities to bring light to the lives of others.

Again, I turn my simple mind to the simplicity of the minds of the little people in my life, who never cease to educate me. The best kinds of children’s entertainment are put together by people as wise as the little people they inspire. American writer Shel Silverstein is no exception to this rule, with his powerful poetry that speaks to the heart as well as the mind.

“I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war,” Silverstein wrote. “Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.”

In retrospect, I won some pretty easy battles today. I was surrounded by family who have a culture drenched in love for each other. The same isn’t always true in an average day, and those are the days to make it count. Hugs and smiles probably won’t solve the problems of the world, but all the small things aren’t so small to me. So today I share my 76 petting sessions, more than 20 smiles and all of my hugs with the world in hopes that my small contribution makes a difference.

“Be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies,” Mother Theresa once said. It’s our world…why not make it shine?

 

A Night In the Life April 27, 2013

There is a lot to be thankful for about mornings. Every day the sun rises is a blessing. I have mixed emotions about the birds outside the bedroom window that seem to chirp a little earlier each morning, but I do give them credit for always catching the worm. So it might come to a surprise to some people that I would definitely describe myself as a night doggie.

In the mornings when my forever people get ready to go to that place called work I stay in a semi-sleep haze state until they both leave and I enjoy my morning nap. I sleep the majority of most days. When I wake, I daydream.

It’s my people time. It doesn’t matter if we’re all cuddled on the couch, playing pickle in the middle (even though I am always the pickle), or they are keeping me company while I blog: our time in the night together is priceless. And it wasn’t that long ago that my nights became even more special to me, when I was invited to sleep in the bed with my people pack. This was no small hurdle to conquer and it was definitely one of the best nights of my little doggie life when I finally convinced my dad to allow it.

2013-04-04 17.55.40

Dogs would make good lawyers if scientists ever find a way to break the communication gap between people and canines. Even if they don’t, I think there is a silent connection between dogs and their people that makes us man’s best friend. I have all the respect in the world for obedience training, and I understand who the pack leaders are in my house, but I also believe in the power of “the face.”

You know the one. Close your eyes and picture it for a second. Tilted head. Big eyes. You can’t say no to “that face.”

I’ve won my fair share of battles with that face. Mom has always been a lot easier to win over than dad in general, especially when it came to the battle of the bed. I remember listening nervously to their conversation on that first night in my forever home to their conversation about “the rules.” Dad did a lot of the talking, about how I would sleep in my crate, spend days in my crate, and under absolutely no circumstance be allowed on the furniture   (especially the bed). Mom seemed agreeable, but I knew already then she would side with me on future negotiations.

I started small, as all those first steps in evoking change are often the most crucial. It wasn’t too long until I got to spend days in the kitchen rather than the crate. I made my way on the couches shortly thereafter using not only “the face” but also “the cuddle.” Hard as it may be for people to say no to the face, experience has showed me it’s almost impossible to say no to “the face/cuddle combo.” Eventually the combo move also got me on the bed, just with mom at first. Then, one fateful night, dad agreed and (oh doggie) I’ve never been so happy as I was that night.

This is not to say I’ve ever struggled to sleep in my forever home. I slept in the crate just fine. I sleep in my little doggie bed in the kitchen during the day as peaceful as I did in the crate. Day or night, sleep is never a problem for me. But that night when I finally got to sleep with the two people I love most in the world took me back to my moments cuddling up to my birth mom all those moons ago. I’d always missed her warmth, her heartbeat, and her love, but it all came back to me that night and every night since.

Now when my people mom says its “bedtime” its one of my favorite moments in the day. And when that sun rises and the birds sing outside the bedroom window each morning, it’s a reminder of the night I have to look forward to.

 

Seeing is Believing April 26, 2013

I look around my house all the time, but today I found myself counting the blessings of the words all around me.

“Life is not measured by the breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away” hangs over my beloved bay window.

“Simplify” graces one of the end tables by my favorite spot on the couch.

“Live, laugh, love,” hangs above the kitchen sink where I frequently steal any and every scrumptious morsel that falls to the ground.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do, are in perfect harmony” hangs in the hallway where dad throws my toys for me to fetch.

These messages are all such fantastic reminders of what it means to be alive, and yet I live most of my days without giving them a second glance.

Sight is funny that way. I’ve noted before how familiarity with our surroundings can make us lazy. Today I wondered how our perspective would change if we could no longer see. It reminds me of a story I heard once about a little girl who got her first pair of glasses when she was four-years-old.

Her kindergarten teacher thought she was over-exaggerating. Surely this little girl didn’t really suffer from chronic headaches, she thought, and she is too smart to be struggling with her alphabet. The teacher suggested to the little girl’s parents that she see a child psychologist for her apparent emotional issues.

This was puzzling to the parents, who knew their daughter to be happy and healthy other than those darned headaches she was having all the time. It all made sense at the optometrist office when the little girl couldn’t identify the big birthday cake on the screen they use in place of the big “E” for children in eye exams. While she had almost perfect 20/20 vision in her right eye, it turned out she had 20/400 vision in her left eye. At four-years-old, my forever mom was diagnosed as legally blind. The optometrist prepared her parents for the reality that the sight may not be fixable and as a result she may never be able to drive.

The parents were devastated, but from that moment on there was no stopping them on their mission to improve the eyesight of their baby girl. It was awfully hard on them to see her sitting inches from the television to watch her favorite movie “The Little Mermaid” (for the hundredth time). Instead of singing along to “Part of Their World” like usual, she cried and cried because she couldn’t see Ariel. The patching of her good eye was excruciating for all parties involved.

Sight is indeed one of life’s most simple of gifts, Sarah Ban Breathnach reminds us in Simple Abundance, and it should not be taken for granted.

“Today really look around at your world…Smile at everyone you meet because you can see them,” Breathnach writs. “Never forget that the gift of vision was so important that when God created the world, the first command was for Light in order to see, and after the Great Creator finished with each day’s task, He glanced back on his handiwork and ‘saw that it was good.’ We need to see how good it is too.”

More than 20 years later, my forever mom now has 20/30 eyesight in her left eye. She calls it her “little miracle” in life. Because her parents believed when even her eye doctor lacked faith, she has the blessing of sight and all that comes along with it.

The senses are a funny thing, after all. We can hear but not really listen. We can touch but not really feel. We can eat but not really taste. All of these oddities came to mind today when I realized how powerful it is to look and really see.

Seeing Is Believing

 

Dreaming Out Loud April 25, 2013

I’ve noticed a trend in popular music of today involving a reverie for the younger years in life. Every song tells a story of its writer, who was inspired by any variation of emotional situations. The Lumineers tell us to keep our heads up and remember when we were young in “Stubborn Love.” Fun. suggests we are young “so let’s set the world on fire, we can burn brighter than the sun.” Lyrics like these bring to poetry to life.

Looking UpEvery now and then it happens to me too. I’ll be going about my day sleeping in my doggie bed, monitoring the neighborhood from my perch in the bay window, or playing with my forever people and BAM! Poetry comes to life before me. I blame author and poet Susan G. Wooldridge for this (dare I say) habit of mine. It’s no secret I’m a lover of words, but I’m also a believer in the theory that sometimes it takes a little crazy to create a unique masterpiece.

So today, I embraced my inner “crazy” by opening to a random page of Wooldridge’s “Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words,” and vowing to write a blog post about the words that followed.

“When I saw my son, Daniel, shaking our new lilac bush the spring he was three, I managed to keep myself from shrieking ‘Stop it, you’re going to kill the bush!’ Instead I asked him what he was doing,” Wooldridge writes. “‘I’m stirring the sky, Mama,’ he told me. I only asked that he stir it gently. How can you tell a child to stop stirring the sky?”

I’ve said before that little people are wise beyond their years. They are also poets. They are honest. They love unconditionally. They are wise. I’ve learned many important lessons from the little people in my life, but one of the most meaningful is their perspective on the world. Like me, they see joy from the ground up. Unlike most adults, who look down on life…in more ways than one.

Wooldridge suggests a solution to this that aligns very well with the popular lyrics of the Lumineers and Fun. “Seek out children. Jot down what they say,” Wooldridge writes. “We can find poems just by listening, being a scribe and catching the words.”

Poetry is life dreaming out loud. Let’s dream in verse…let’s look up.

 

Empires of the Mind April 24, 2013

Mom, dad and I played around in the backyard together today. We all got dirty with mud, but we smiled and we laughed under the springy afternoon sun. It lasted about a half hour, but it was one of those half hours that remind you to be grateful to be alive.

I was grateful for the moments, but the recent loss of Rusty makes me stop and think. What would happen to these moments if I weren’t in them? I’m sure mom and dad would enjoy each other’s company, but I wouldn’t be there to interrupt. I wouldn’t be there to try to intercept the softball they were throwing back and forth. I wouldn’t be there to make them smile.

Don’t be silly, I told myself, they would be smiling without you here. While I know that’s true, I can’t bear the thought. It’s a funny feeling, to be sure. I certainly don’t wish them ill, but today when we were all happy together, I wondered a bit about what would happen when I wasn’t part of the playful picture.Happiness Captured

To especially the non-dog-lover/owner, it might sound silly, but I can tell how attached to me my mom is. She tells me she loves me more than enough to make up for the neglect and abuse of my past and I appreciate every single loving scratch, thoughtful comment, or unexpected (albeit occasionally lung-crushing) hug. Dad is a little more guarded (at least when mom’s around), but as I’ve said before, we have our moments when it’s just the two of us when I am certain his feelings for me are purely loving (whether he admits it aloud or not).

So today, when we were all playing together and they were both laughing like ninnies, it surprised me when I closed my eyes and saw something shocking. I wasn’t in the picture, but a dog that looked just like me was there in my place. Mom and dad were laughing, just like they did today, with this stranger dog. There were strange little people there too. A little boy and his younger sister, I would guess them to be eight- and four-years-old were there, laughing harder than I’d ever seen mom and dad laugh.

They were playing together, as a family, laughing and happy. My gut reaction was to moan and cry because I wasn’t part of this vision of the future. But that’s not true to the unconditional love I feel for my forever family. I do hope I get to meet these little people someday. I hope as well that I get to see them laugh like I did in my thoughts today.

I also know today was not the last time mom, dad and I will play around together in our backyard. I know it’s not the last time we’ll smile and laugh at each other as we get dirty with mud. I know it’s certainly not the last time I will take a moment’s pause to be grateful for moments like this in my life. But today was also a reminder of what it’s like to love unconditionally (as us dogs are so gifted at that).

“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind,” said the great political leader, artist, and writer Winston Churchill. Well, today I realized how much I hope the empire in my mind is reflected in the future whether or not I’m in it.

I realized it’s way too easy for me to feel betrayed, left behind and forgotten by images like what I saw in my head today. Well, I’ve never been one to take the easy road and I certainly don’t intend to start doing so now. Instead I choose to challenge myself to see the silver lining. Instead I see these images as a blessing of what’s to come. Instead I see the empire in my mind and realize how much I hope there is a dog just like me there to show the family I love more than life itself all the love I won’t be able to when I’m gone. Happiness like we had today will not stop when I’m gone if I have anything to say about it.

Related articles:

Dear Future Me – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/03/01/dear-future-me/

Pawprints in the Sand – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/04/22/pawprints-in-the-sand/