Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Dear Future Me March 1, 2013

My neighborhood pal Sammy made an appearance in my backyard today. His parents let him wander around without a leash. I envy that about him. Family is at the core of his life too, with his parents and his grandparents both living in a couple of houses down the road from us.

He is one of the older and wiser dogs in the neighborhood, and I have come to respect him a great deal. We’ve had our fair share of playtime in the snow, wrestling in the mud, and moments when I’ve been able to learn from his mysteriously silent demeanor. I’m always surprised by what I learn from our sporadic moments of silence together. Like many, today’s lesson came as quite a surprise to me.

Unlike Sammy’s parents, mine make a point to leash me in our almost-completely-fenced-in backyard. My lead allows me to roam the majority of the yard, but no further. I know it is for my own protection, but I didn’t understand why until today. I overheard my parents discussing this issue and couldn’t help but pay close attention. If you put him on his leash, dad said, there is no reason we shouldn’t have at least 12-14 more years with him. What a morbidly awful thing to overhear. Yet it brings to the surface something I see in Sammy, who has had some serious health issues lately: I won’t be around forever. My days are numbered. And like Pope John Paul II said, “the future starts today, not tomorrow.”

My future starts today with reflections of my past and present. My adoptive parents are already so attached to me, I can’t say where their emotions will be after 12-14 more years. And I know part of their plan is to adopt another dog when I start to get older to ease with the unavoidable truth that they will most likely outlive me. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love them unconditionally and can say with all honesty that I will die happy knowing my successor is in place to make sure they keep smiling after I’m gone.

But my encounter with Sammy today reminded me there are some things the future me needs to know. Abraham Lincoln once said “the best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” So today I make it a point to bring the future to life by penning a detailed letter to my future me.

Dear future me,

I know if you’re reading this, it means I am living the high life in doggie heaven. Sadly that means I have left the life of love and gratitude in my forever home, but fortunately for both of us you are there to fill my paw prints. I’m a simple dog, and I don’t have any reason to believe my paw prints will be too big for you to fill. But there are some things you need to know:

1) No doesn’t really mean no if you sit nicely and make a cute enough face.
2) Try not to pester dad too much at night. I know he secretly loves the interaction, but he needs his quiet alone time to reboot too.
3) Mom is pretty special. Don’t let her forget it.
4) Being “emotionally needy” is a compliment, not a criticism.
5) Barking at all sorts of animals on the moving picture window (animated, robotic, live, or otherwise) is not acceptable, whereas barking to protect from any kind of wrongdoing most definitely is acceptable.
6) Find something to be thankful for each day, then find a way to share the gratitude you feel.
7) Never turn down affection. It’s always a good time for a hug.
8) Dance like no one’s watching (this is one of mom’s favorite things to do).
9) Love with all your heart and life will never let you down.
10) Live each day like it were your last walk around the dog park.

You should know there is so much more I wish I could tell you. I am fortunate enough to have had many mentors in my days who have taught me so much either by their actions or their words. One of the most important things they taught me was to believe in myself and the power I have to share joy with the world. You share that same potential. Know that joy is yours to find and yours to share in all you do.Dear Future Me

Forever yours,
Wiles

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures December 28, 2012

Existentialism fascinates me. The philosophical theory that experiences define one’s existence was strongly influenced by German novelist Frank Kafka who said, “we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.” Well, that is the story of my year.

Good, bad or indifferent, 2012 was a year of firsts for me. I travelled to exciting new places, I earned the right to sleep in my parent’s room (instead of that blasted crate), and I had brushes with death that made me place a higher value on life. Its tough to pick just one “high” or “low” point, so I have chosen to review my most memorable moments as a means to recognize these existential moments that define my existence.

Memory lane 2012 began with me longing for the snow we saw at the start of 2011.

The great February blizzard of 2011 was very great indeed. I was disappointed by the lack of snow we saw this year, but the extra time exploring the great outdoors later in the year proved worth the wait…

In June, I took my first camping trip to Mirror Lake near Wisconsin Dells. I loved every second of it! All the new smells, sights, sounds….I know mom and dad were worried about me being quiet in the tent with them, but I was so exhausted after all our hiking on the trails that I paid little attention to the sounds of the night. Life lesson: Variety really is the spice of life.

In July, I got a haircut…while not my first, it was one of the shortest cuts I’ve ever had. I felt so free. Life lesson: “Beauty isn’t worth thinking about; what’s important is your mind. You don’t want a fifty-dollar haircut on a fifty-cent head” – Garrison Keillor.

In August, I met Diesel…one of my mom’s pals’ new puppy. I relished our moments together when I was bigger than him. He’s a chow/lab mix, so I knew he’d be bigger than me almost instantly. But I look forward to having him as a lifelong mate. Life lesson: “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down,” – Oprah Winfrey.

September was an especially exciting month. I went to my first race at Elkhart Lake. While I’m not sure I understand the point of the cars going around and around the track, it was my kind of day. I got to be somewhere new with my people in the gorgeous outdoors. The Friday night football game about a week later held a similar appeal – one of the little people in the family was playing in the game, so it was even more exciting to be there to root him on. Life lesson: I like race days and football. Simple as that.

In October, I travelled with my family way up north and impersonated president Lincoln on the World’s Largest Penny. It was also around this time that my mom finally convinced my dad to let me sleep in their bedroom with them instead of having me sleep in a crate in a room down the hall. It might seem silly, but that is a big deal to me. Life lesson: Appreciate the small things-they may not be as tiny as they seem.

Remember that though by Kafka about the bites and stings? November quite literally brought a few of those for me. It was uncharacteristically warm in Wisconsin, so I had a few teeny tiny little unwelcome visitors take shelter in my fur. Not one, not two, but three deer ticks I had to contend with this fall. Fortunately for me, my mom and dad pet me on such a regular basis that they found them all and removed them before it became a bigger problem.

Mid-month brought my biggest struggle. It was one of the first frigid days of the winter season, but I was still so excited to go to one of my most favorite places in this whole world: the dog park. Mom kept talking about how it was the last time of the year, so I prepared myself for some fun. It was disappointing to get there and have there only be two other dogs to play with, but I didn’t care. I ran right up on the picnic table to greet a breed I know to be called a pit bull and was unpleasantly surprised with the result. It’s hard for me to tell what happened next, because I kind of blacked out, but I’ve overheard my mom tell the story enough times to know it wasn’t pleasant. From what she’s said, that pit bull had me dangling four feet in the air by its teeth, while still atop that picnic table for a good minute before I fell to the ground with my tail between my legs. The next thing I can remember is my eye hurting and that nice lady at the vet telling me how lucky I was that the scratch in my eye wasn’t worse…I could have lost my sight. Life lesson: Seeing is believing.

But November also brought a high for me in all the extra time I got to spend with mom while she’s been on what I have now heard her call a leave of absence for recovery on her leg surgery. Life lesson: If you look for it, joy actually is all around.

Such became the stepping stone for my blog, which I would call December’s most memorable moment. And so it is…here we are at the end of December reflecting on the year. At its most basic application, existentialism claims one is defined by his or her experiences. And with that, I would agree that 2012 experiences have contributed to who I am – good, bad, or indifferent.