Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

My American Dream July 7, 2014

It probably doesn’t look like anything you would think. Certainly it’s not nearly as shiny or adventurous or out of the ordinary as you might imagine. But it’s mine and I think it’s pretty great. The American Dream. From the ground up, it’s not that unlike joy. I know it looks different to different people, so today I pause to reflect on an article I read about a misconception regarding this otherwise innocent thing. Proud to be an American

Someone who shall remain unnamed and unreferenced (purely out of principal) put out an article in recent days that says it takes an average of $130,000 to live what is conceived as the American Dream. I’m not going to tell you the particulars as it pertains to my beloved family other than that is no where near reality for us.

Yet today as mom spent some time working at home over lunch I couldn’t help but pause to reflect on the beauty of the moment. There we were, together in my backyard paradise, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine. There we were, in the moment listening as a wide variety of songbirds chirped us a song. There we were as baby Carter napped peacefully inside my beloved forever home. And in that moment I felt like the richest little mutt of a doggie known to man.

“For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day;” suggested ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, “and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy.”

I know this to be truth in life. While there are many who could argue we live frugally and on the cheap, I would tell them I’m the richest doggie I know. I’m not ashamed to say it either. It doesn’t come encased in anything special. It’s not worth anything to anyone other than me. And I like it that way. Because to me, that is how joy (from the ground up) should look. I know it’s not anything like what you would think. It’s nothing special or shiny or adventurous like you might imagine. But to me it’s pretty great.

 

Living the Dream June 9, 2013

When I was a puppy, I longed to be “normal.” I had this image of what my life should look like and it was so different than what it was. I don’t mean to say I wasn’t happy as I’d ever dreamed to be with my mom and brothers. Living on the streets taught me so many valuable lessons about the meaning of family and the importance of finding joy in the little things. But I could tell right away that I was different from my puppy brothers.

While we shared a scavenger’s sense of survival, my brothers looked a little different than me. (More like their dad, I gathered, since I was almost a spitting image of my mom). I even remember feeling kind of left out around them, like the odd puppy out. It’s me, I thought, I’m not like the others.

Living the DreamIt surprised me when I felt the same way after getting separated from my mom and brothers. I was still just a pup, and I would have thought being out on my own would make me feel adult. Instead I was scared, alone, and again longing for normalcy without even really knowing exactly what it looked like.

All-the-while I felt like something about me was holding me back somehow, especially when I was at the humane society. I know I didn’t think like other dogs, and I certainly didn’t look like them. The majority of visitors overlooked me for puppies, and those who did visit me often mistook me for either a puppy or a girl.

I would have found this all incredibly discouraging if not for my innate desire to find the good to be grateful for each day. And on days when I couldn’t think of anything, I gave thanks for my hope for normalcy. I knew there was something better, something normal, in my future.

But there is this something abnormal about normalcy. I think it’s kind of like how people in my country have this concept of an “American Dream.” It’s all relative. Perhaps the bigger we dream, the more this comes into focus. What is normal anyway? The more my adult mind analyzes the concept, the more I realize the negative connotations of the word. Normal has a boring ring to it, and almost sounds like something below average. Instead I find myself gravitating to the abnormal, which (to me) is more exciting.

Sure, when I was a puppy “normal” seemed like the only way to go. Throughout my life I faced challenges on my path to normalcy that made me who I am today. But today I no longer wish to be normal. Instead I accept that my place in life is among the extraordinarily abnormal. It always has been and always will be. That, my friends, is my American Dream coming to life.