Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Quit Playing Games November 16, 2013

It’s one thing when its Mrs. Prickles being thrown around in a game of pickle in the middle. It’s something completely different when it’s a person’s heart. I’m a believer in seeing the best in the people, places and things that make up the chapters of my life. But people don’t always make it easy.

The way I see it, relationships are pretty cut and dry. You love someone, you spend time with them. They are your world in that moment. And in every moment, I suppose. We forgive. We move on. We are loyal, and nothing will stand in the way of that. I don’t why people let things get so complicated.Game Face

Take, for example, a pair of girlfriends who are interested in the same potential mate. That never seems to end well for anyone involved. Or the “mutual” breakup between a couple, in which someone decides its best to stay friends. That’s not fair to the person who wants (or perhaps needs) to make a clean break and start fresh.

Mom and dad don’t really partake in these sorts of games, but these are a mere sample of the myriad of relationship struggles that seem to plague the people they care about. Which makes them people I care about. Friends and family alike, these are some of the real relationship games being played in modern society. And I don’t like it.

Because my time as an observer of people has made me pretty savvy to the reality of these games. Many times what people don’t seem able to piece together is that they may think they’re only playing with the other person’s mind. Really they’re playing with the heart.

And it’s one thing when its Mrs. Prickles being thrown around in a game of pickle in the middle. It’s something completely different when it’s a person’s heart. Matters of the heart are not game friendly. “The only way to have a friend is to be one,” as my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson said.

And what does it mean to be a friend? When you love someone, you spend time with them. They are your world in that moment. You forgive. You move on. You are loyal, and nothing will stand in the way of that. I don’t why people let things get so complicated.

 

The Mouse Will Play September 25, 2013

I guess it’s called denial. That sense of refusal to acknowledge something we wish wasn’t happening. That’s how I started my day today. The dreaded suitcase was out and I could sense this would be a people-only adventure. In spite of my best efforts and employment of “the look,” my fears were realized when we made our first stop at grandma’s house. I was being left behind.Doggie Love

I should have seen it coming. All right, all right, I did see it coming. I just convinced myself it wasn’t happening. I was in denial. And I’ve got to say – that is not a very happy place to be. It was a couple hours after my people left me with grandma and my cousin (grandma’s dog) Buddy that I realized what was happening. I was sulking by the sliding patio door when it happened.

Buddy bit my butt. That’s right. He came up behind me and nipped at me right by my tail. I was beside myself. I turned around, ready to make him regret it (why couldn’t he let me be sad?), and there he was – his tail was in the air wagging like crazy, begging me to chase him, and there was a playful sparkle in his eye. And so it began. We started what became an epic race in circles all around grandma’s house.

In those 15 minutes I forgot my people were gone. I was lost in the moment with my friend and our silliness. As my favorite transcendental thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson said “it is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”

And stupid we were. Buddy, my buddy, reminded me (amidst our ridiculous game of chase) to live in the moment. When we finally took a break, I paused to reflect on his life to this point. His struggles have been incredibly different than mine and yet we’ve ended up in the same position. We both bring joy from the ground up to the world in our own unique way.

Thanks to Buddy’s contagious joy, I’m not in denial anymore. I’m not sure how long my people will be gone, but I know they will come back. And until they do I’ve decided to live it up here at grandma’s house. What’s that they say about the cat being away? The mouse will play? Consider me the mouse for the next few days.

 

What Lies Inside July 23, 2013

A lot happened in my backyard today.

After a mysterious three-week hiatus, my neighbor demon dog has returned. It wasn’t a pretty reunion, as he “greeted” me with some pretty intense growling and panting from his usual hangout on his side of our mutual fence. I saw my neighbor Lady for the first time since her husband passed away recently. She looked sad. I wagged hello at her and I think she may have looked right through me. And after a startling separation from the rabbit family about a month ago, I think they’re back. (Though they are likely being much more careful about revealing themselves this time aroundFeeling Sad for Neighbor Lady).

So many days are quiet and uneventful around here (not that I’m complaining), but today was a feast for the emotional senses. It all happened so fast, and when it was over I found myself longing to piece the puzzle together into some sort of semblance of normalcy. Why would all of these things happen in the same 15 minutes?

I was absolutely terrified to see demon dog return. I forgot how big and scary and loud and threatening he is.

Figuring it all outI felt completely defeated with the sincerest compassion when I saw my neighbor Lady. I wanted so badly for mom to let me off my leash so I could go give her a big ole hug and some doggie kisses to cheer her up. It broke my heart to see her that way, kind of a shell of her normal bubbly self. But there was really nothing I could do about it.

And then I felt the most overtaking sense of excitement and relief when I smelled the rabbit family’s return. Though I couldn’t see them, I have faith they are all right and back together and that brings warmth and joy to my heart.

Life is that way sometimes. We can be happily following our routine when bam! Everything happens at once. It’s different than the valleys and hills that challenge us along our journey. We can plan ahead and be prepared for those. You can’t prepare for moments like these. “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you,” great transcendental thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested.

I didn’t see it coming, but I learned a lot in my backyard today. At any moment when we least expect it, our heart gets an unexpected workout that pulls us in 18 different directions simultaneously. But that doesn’t change the impact they can have on our lives. Highly concentrated emotional situations may even be more impactful in surprising ways. The difference is we are forced in these moments to think with our hearts rather than our minds. And, in these moments, it is what lies inside of us that matters.

 

Best Laid Plans July 19, 2013

I don’t care for flies. I don’t like when I can’t catch them buzzing around the walls of my forever home. I don’t like them when I do catch them and they buzz around in my tummy. The way I see it, they are useful in one (and only one) way. Metaphorically speaking, flies on the wall get all the great information before it hits the public presses. Granted, I see this as a gross exaggeration of their microscopic brain capacity, but the theory is sound.

Dog on the WallI would argue instead that dogs are the ultimate flies on the wall. We see and hear things. But more importantly we understand things. We’re man’s best friend, after all. So when it comes to understanding my people, I am your resident dog on the wall. As such, I have come to recognize certain patterns of conversation that lead nowhere fast. And I can say this because I love her more than she will ever know. My mom tends to put far too high a stake in things sometimes.

She looks forward to something, plans it all out in her head, and when it doesn’t work out — if it doesn’t go according to plan — it’s a complete disaster to her. It’s all very confusing to dad, who generally tries to make the best of a sticky situation. Unfortunately for the both of us, best laid plans don’t always come together and there is little we can do to fix it.

It turns out you were right. My mom absolutely missed me as much as I missed her while she was away at that place called the spa earlier this week. She missed me so much she came home the same day she left! Well, that’s not entirely true. Health issues brought her home early, and I was ecstatic (albeit sincerely concerned). But what made my day may as well been a weapon of mass destruction on hers. She clearly felt incredibly ill, but moreover there was simply no cheering her up. I tried all of my tricks. I jumped and licked and wagged and jumped some more. Nothing.

Fortunately I’ve been in the business of being the dog on the wall long enough to know this too shall pass. And it did. But it got me to thinking about the best laid plans that don’t work out. Because let’s face it – things do not always go exactly according to plan. And yes, it sucks. It’s disappointing. But these things happen and it is not the end of the world. “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment,” suggested one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Henry David Thoreau.

I don’t care for flies, but I sure do like their job of being on the wall. There’s lots to be learned from that perspective. I (for one) find my compensation in knowing even the best laid plans can go awry. It’s how we deal with the hurdles, how we find ways to be quiet and ready, that we grow.

 

On Morality and The Good Life June 24, 2013

I did the right thing today. It went against everything my terrier nature told me to do. And it wasn’t easy, which is why I know it was right.

Dad was using that scary loud contraption called a lawnmower in the backyard when it happened. He came across something on the ground that prompted him to turn off the machine and stare. Which prompted me to investigate what he was staring at. Sure enough, the rabbit I’ve been seeing a lot of in our yard lately suddenly appeared from beneath the ground and darted away. I chased her, but she was too fast for me and quickly ran beyond the length of my lead. I’m certain she was hoping to cause a diversion, as dad and I quickly discovered she left behind two little rabbit babies (each no larger than the majority of my chew toys) and they were both in my reach.

In that moment, I was faced with a decision. Do what came naturally to me as a terrier or do the right thing. I knew immediately what I was going to do so (in spite of my dad scolding me and pulling me away) I simply sniffed at the little guys and wished them well. Life's Big Questions

It goes back to my first moments after I was separated from my birth mom and brothers. I know what its like to be in their teeny little rabbit paws in that situation. They were me today, lost and afraid and uncertain of what the future holds for them. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy, let alone two helpless little rabbit babies who may or may not reunite with their mom. To make matters worse, I watched in horror as they each scurried off in their own separate way. I know it should have made me want to chase them, but watching everything unfold the way it did actually just made me sad.

Still I know in my heart that my birth mom would be proud of what I did today, wherever she is. She is the reason I believe no character comes into our life without a good reason, without a message or life lesson. Her brevity in my life made my moments with her that much more valuable, and I can say with honesty that I remember the majority of what she taught me. Some things made sense immediately: dream big, love bigger, never take no for an answer. Others didn’t make sense right away (as these things never do when we’re to young to understand) but these are the things that seem most important now. Love your neighbors as yourself. Strive to be a servant leader. Do the right thing even if it hurts.

“Aim above morality,” American author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau suggested. “Be not simply good, be good for something.”

I did the right thing today. I was good for something. And it was far from easy. But if there is anything experience has taught me its that usually doing the right thing is most important when it hurts. These are the moments when learning comes full circle and we truly understand morality and the good life.

 

Penny For Your Thoughts April 13, 2013

I can’t explain it. It’s just one of those things I can’t help. I do it without thinking. I could probably even do it in my sleep. It doesn’t matter if it’s a towel, a messy pile of laundry being sorted or a tidy pile of clean laundry being put away. I instinctively (downright compulsively) rub myself all over anything and everything fabric that ends up on the floor. My adoptive parents are at a crossroads about this behavior: mom giggles and dad scowls. I don’t necessarily find joy in their disagreement, but (like I said) it isn’t something I can control.

Penny For Your ThoughtsExcept for today. Today, I overheard one of the most painfully sad conversations that made me pause. If I could speak human I would have audibly gasped. Dad asked mom what she was thinking about and that’s when she said it. “Do you ever regret marrying me?” My heart overpowered my head in that moment. I forgot all about all the clean clothes laying in their neat little piles all over the bed. I couldn’t believe my ears.

“What kind of a question is that?” Dad said.

“Well, do you or don’t you?” Mom said.

“I love you now as much as I did the day we were married,” dad said. “You are beautiful, inside and out.”

“Well said, dad!” I screamed at the top of my little doggie heart. They resumed folding laundry and I resumed my compulsive marking behavior with what I mistook for peace in my heart.

But after all the clothes were put away, I realized it wasn’t peace I felt at all. I can’t help but wonder what prompted mom to ask such a question in the first place. Certainly she doesn’t regret marrying my dad. I know they have experienced some extreme emotional ups and downs in their short five years of marriage, but I can see the purest of love in both of their eyes. And I generally don’t believe in having regrets. Everything happens for a reason, and no experience is without value if something is learned from it.

I’ll never know why mom’s head was in such a dark place today. Instead I will take a page from one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Henry David Thoreau and share with the world my opinion of the only way to view regret. “Make the most of your regrets,” Thoreau challenged, “never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

I can’t explain it. It’s just one of those things I can’t help. I do it without thinking, just like my behavior with the clothes. Penny for my thoughts? I can’t stop myself from finding the silver lining. I suppose that’s a less embarrassing habit to have then my behavior with the clothes, but I digress.