Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

How Are You Really? July 30, 2013

I’m not proud to admit this but I sent Mrs. Prickles to the emergency room recently.

One minute I was nursing on her as usual, and the next minute I couldn’t keep myself from tearing the little white fluff balls out of her. Both are instinctual behaviors for me, yet I was surprised to find myself enjoying the task of removing fluff balls. Several of the other members who make up my comfort circle have similar holes in them that I leave alone. So why now did I find myself losing control?

Truth be told, I don’t know what happened. And I think that happens sometimes. We get so caught up in something it kind of takes over our motor functions until someone brings us back to reality. I didn’t want to hurt Mrs. Prickles. I didn’t mean to. But I did.


It makes me stop and think about how I see people interacting with one another. With everything going on in people’s lives it can be so easy to get caught up in things and not pay attention to what is happening around you. It brings to mind a commonplace people conversation I have overheard one too many times. Person one asks person two how they are. Person two responds with a generally generic answer like super, swell, good or (on occasion) terrible. Person two then turns the question back to person one. How are you? Sometimes the conversation continues, sometimes not.Thinking of You

What bothers me about this interaction is that it always seems to me to be on autopilot. Just like me and Mrs. Prickles. The people are (more often than not) just having the conversation to be polite and really neither person cares all that much about how the other person is doing. Not really. So why do we ask the question?

Why did I start uncontrollably taking fluff balls out of one of my favorite toys? It’s in our nature. Something in my nature (that I don’t particularly care to embrace or understand) encouraged me to rip Mrs. Prickles (who I happen to love) to pieces. Something in people nature makes them feel the need to start conversations in which their heart isn’t invested.

And I’m not saying these are bad things. Without our nature we wouldn’t be who we are, after all. But I am in the business of challenging what’s easy. Mrs. Prickles is all fixed now, no thanks to me. (I’m going to do what I can to keep it that way). I have, after all, also seen the polite “how are you” question develop into much deeper people conversations. So maybe its worth it to take life off autopilot every once in a while.


23 Responses to “How Are You Really?”

  1. Kuruk Says:

    So glad Mrs. Pickles is all healed up! It’s ok Wiley, it happens to the best of us pups! Wooowoooo, Ku

  2. Ogee Says:

    A good reminder…and cute as a button photo of you to boot!

    • My dear long lost buddy! I haven’t heard from you it a while! So good to see you again! And thank you for the compliment on the photo…I’ve got my mom to thank for that one. 😉

  3. writetowag Says:

    We are very happy to hear Mr. Pickles is ok…Wiley that pick of you just filled my heart with joy!!!! You are so unbelievably CUTE!!!!

    • I love the joy contagion. It’s so powerful! My picture filled your heart with joy, and your telling me so filled my heart with joy. It’s just the darned best thing in the whole world to share, isn’t it? 🙂

  4. It is very strange how you guys can love your toys for months and then suddenly reduce them to stuffing! We ask ours why often 😉

    • There’s definitely not a logical explanation for our silly behavior – from best friend to complete shreds? It doesn’t make any sense! If I ever figure it out though, I will be sure to let you know. 🙂

  5. huntmode Says:

    An important question, Wiley. I’ve read we do it as a social greeting, similar to “Good morning,” substituting “How are ya?,” “How is it going?,” etc. I’ve never forgotten a woman who was a new employee being taken around and introduced to everyone. Later, she said, “You were the only one who looked me in the eye and actually saw me.” … hmm, maybe we need to stop and put down the oh so important email, phone, turn away from the computer and see the person. Witness their existence.

    • Dear friend,
      I have to hand it to you. You so regularly surprise me with your interpretations of my words – it’s like you hop into my little doggie mind and pull out an improved version of exactly what I was trying to communicate. “Witness their existence.” There is something pretty special about those words. Thanks for being a witness to my existence, dear friend.

      • huntmode Says:

        For the record, Wyles, I see you signing your name differently for me – blessings upon you, dear dog! I learned the importance of being willing to be a witness; some would say “just a witness” to someone else’s pain – most often. It is better when it is one of pleasure. We are not trained to deal with death, but it comes and with our aging population, it will come faster and more often. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is what dogs do best – they are there. Period. Not trying to fix the unfixable. The very best of friends show up just to be there. Sometimes to be whatever your friend needs and sometimes to stand witness to what is happening with that person. Dogs are the very best at this – Love you, dog! HuntMode

      • Dear HuntMode,
        I had wondered whether you noticed the change in my signature since we last spoke. Just as you have your reasons, I now have mine. 😉
        I love what you said here about being present. Being a witness. Being there. It is truly a dog’s gift, but I do think some people have the gift as well. Especially people that aren’t men (who I find autopilot into Mr. Fix It mode). 😉
        Lots of love right back at you and the family!

  6. Autopilot serves a purpose sometimes. So does going deep. I guess like everything else, we need to encourage our humans to keep it in balance. Too much of one or the other would not be practical. My toybox shows a good balance of healthy toys and toys with war wounds.

    Love and licks,

    • Dear Cupcake,
      You have a gift. So often you interpret my words better than I even did! This is exactly what I was trying to communicate – balance. Everything in moderation as they say. Except for peanut butter. And maybe bacon. And tail wags. Oh boy, I could go on for a while….looks like I need to take a sip of my own medicine, hey?
      Lots of love to you dear friend,

  7. I try to answer with something different to get people to stop and smile or shake their heads at my silliness.

  8. Maybe dogs have a secret “Surgeon-Gene”? And our body clock tells us when we have to do what we always do?

  9. Gizmo Says:

    So many of our daily interactions are superficial Wiley…I might ask the grocery clerk “How ‘s your day going?” but truth is I really don’t want or need the details…It’s just a way of being polite I guess…

    • I wouldn’t equate being superficial with being polite, dear Gizmo. It’s a kind thing to do to ask how someone is doing, even if you don’t really want to know. It may not take more than that to make a person’s day.

  10. […] the most frequently asked conversational question. How are you? As I am a believer in responding to this question with nothing but sincere honesty, I time to time find myself cooking up creative responses in my […]

  11. Reblogged this on Wiley's Wisdom and commented:

    Instinct and compassion. They might not always go hand in hand, but maybe they should.

  12. Better for visiting your little corner of sunshine!!

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