Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Baby Laughing January 22, 2014

I’ve never been too big a fan of mirrors. I know barking and cowering are fairly common canine responses to them, but I do neither of these things. Instead I feel nothing. Emotionally indifferent I guess you could say. In general I don’t particularly care for the effect I know they can have on people, especially women.

So I choose to direct my attention elsewhere. I prefer to find joy. From the ground up, it was easy to find today. It happened on my living room floor with my other baby pal Alexis (daughter of mom’s friend Jessica). There we were staring at each other when it happened. She laughed.

If joy had a sound, a baby laughing would be it. It’s not the first time I’ve experienced such things, but each time it happens teaches me a new lesson about true and sincere happiness.Joy.

Today it taught me joy doesn’t come from a mirror. It simply can’t. But if you reflect joy, if you put it out there in front of you, it is likely to reflect right back at you. I mean no disrespect to mirrors. They serve their purpose and that’s all well and good.

But I do think people place too much value on that reflection staring back at them. Dogs bark and cower. People get sad or frustrated. Me? I’m indifferent to the mirrors. I would much rather focus on the person than the reflection anyway.

See the action unfold: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=569872490057&l=334242941458658880

 

Dive On In December 20, 2013

I don’t know why she does this to herself. Last year with a bum knee. This year nine months pregnant. It seems nothing will cause mom to so much as reconsider hosting her annual Christmas party. Both times I listened as she assured her guests beforehand that it would be “low key” given “her condition.” And both times I watched as that is far from what happened.

She inevitably hustles around the kitchen up until the very last minute when the first guest arrives, regardless of her “condition.” Sure, there are the staples that grace the table of deliciousness that is strategically placed just beyond my reach. There are the chips and dips and cheese trays. But there are also the extras like the ham and cheese puffs and cranberry bliss bars. And then the guests come.

It started with Jess and Rich and baby Alexis. One by one, the group grew to include several people I’ve come to know and love. It wasn’t long before everyone was sitting together enjoying samples of the variety of delicacies. And that’s when I saw it. Joy. From the ground up, it was radiating from mom.

It was subtle. I don’t think anyone else even noticed. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Her sigh wasn’t one of stress or exhaustion. It was a sound that somehow embodied everything about the spirit of the season. She was sitting in the living room surrounded by people she holds dear to her heart. All was well in her world in that moment.

So I think I get it now. I understand why mom does this to herself, with the bustling around the kitchen and the ham and cheese puffs. It’s the same reason I choose to share my unique perspective on joy with the world. It’s a reason that has not changed in all 365 days of my blogging journey. True joy, like what I saw in mom tonight, is meant to be shared. “Joy is to fun what the deep sea is to a puddle,” as English novelist Terry Pratchet once wrote. “It’s a feeling inside that can hardly be contained.” It’s a feeling to embrace this time of year. More importantly, it’s a feeling to share. So dive on in. The water is warm.A Few of My Favorite Things

 

Turn On The Light October 29, 2013

It’s like an on/off switch. It happens in a fraction of a second. The blink of an eye. And it fascinates me. Except when there’s crying involved. Then I’m not sure what to do with myself.

I spent some time with baby Alexis again tonight and I am stunned by the emotional roller coaster she wears on her adorable little face. First she’s smiling her contagious toothless grin then bam! The grin morphs into a grimace, but only for a millisecond. Then she’s happy again. It’s exhausting for me as an observer who invests a good deal in bringing joy from the ground up into the lives of others.

Happiness begets HappinessAs disturbing as it may be to observe, it made me wonder what happens along one’s life journey that keeps this from being something common in adults. Sure, I’ve seen adults go from happy to sad pretty instantaneously. (Let’s face it, bad things happen to good people all the time). But it’s the second part of the equation that interests me. That’s the part that seems to be blocked by some sort of adult-only emotional hurdle. How do you efficiently talk yourself back to the happy place?

It happens in an instant for Alexis. I think life too frequently gets in the way of that being possible for adults. But I did observe something else about this emotional dichotomy. When my mom smiled back at her, the switch to the dark side seemed to happen less frequently (if at all). Instead, there they were smiling at each other like a couple of ninnies. Like somehow the reciprocation of happiness inverted the cycle somehow.

There’s a thought. The concept is one that mirrors the idea of Greek philosopher Sophocles, who suggested “kindness begets kindness.” Smiles beget smiles. Joy begets joy. I know it’s probably something different for everyone. But I think that little person who once switch back and forth between sad and happy so frequently is still inside us all. We just have to reprogram our hearts to cooperate better with our minds to recognize the triggers. We’ve got to find our own switch.

Because life turns the lights out on us every now and then. It can happen in a fraction of a second. In the blink of an eye, everything can change. And change can be scary. That is, unless you find a way to turn that light back on.

 

Bundle of Joy August 21, 2013

I got a taste of big brotherhood today. Literally. Her name is Alexis and she is the little person that my doggie pal Diesel oversees. She is two people months old today and she tastes delicious, at least by what I could tell by licking her cute little button of a nose. This was the longest bit of time we’ve spent together (my mom, Diesel’s mom Jessica, me, Diesel and Alexis) since she was born and I got the strangest feeling she somehow sensed she was not (technically) the only baby in the room.You Smell Like Joy!

I knew it was probably nonsense. I figured it was just probably the sense I got. It’s not that unlike me to misread a situation regardless of my good intentions. But then mom’s friend Jessica said it out loud and I knew that maybe (just maybe) I wasn’t imagining things.

“It’s like she somehow knows you have a baby in your belly,” she said to my mom.

Chilling with AlexisAnd it’s true. Baby Alexis was the very embodiment of joy when she was looking at my mom. She smiled so much I was surprised her little baby cheek muscles didn’t give out. She was entranced by my mom and I was entranced by her. As I’ve never seen such a little person smile before, I was unfamiliar with the completely overwhelming sense of joy you get from seeing a whole little body smile. She was baring the most beautiful completely toothless smile I’d ever seen, but it was more than that. Her eyes were smiling. She truly was a little bundle of joy.

It was a far cry from earlier in the evening when she was dreadfully unhappy about something. Just as the wonderment of her smile took me by surprise, I didn’t expect the guttural reaction I had to the sound of a baby crying. It bothered me, but not because of the noise. It bothered me because I wanted to help somehow. I got as close to her as I could (usually this meant getting close to the person holding her) and sniffed and stood at the ready in case there was anything I could do to help stop the crying. It didn’t take long for me to realize there probably isn’t anything I can really do. (Unless I somehow figure out how to feed her, change her, or put her to sleep – wouldn’t that be a trick?). I think I might struggle with that when my little person comes along.

But I now know what I have to look forward to in terms of the bundle of joy this baby will be. And I know it’s probably nonsense. I don’t know how it could be true. Yet I hold the belief that baby Alexis was so happy (partially because she had at that point been fed and changed and was readying for sleep, but also) because she knows she will have that little person in her life someday too. What I felt in my heart as I saw those smiles and licked that little button nose is undeniable. I got a taste of big brotherhood today. And it tasted like joy.