Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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.

 

Here Comes The Sun June 30, 2013

I thought I had gone blind. One second my brothers were all curled up together in the warmth of my mom’s fur and the next we were out in the open squinting into blindness. Out in the open, away from mom’s protective warmth, and in contact with the brightest thing I’d ever seen.I see opportunity

This thing called the sun used to absolutely terrify me. It was too big…too bright…too much. Not to mention I felt a bit like that baby bird who had been nudged out of the nest and forced to fly. Granted, I wasn’t exactly plummeting toward the ground on a free fall to test my limits, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t scary.

I thought of this today as I reveled in my own little slice of paradise. Here I am five years later enjoying something that used to make me quiver in my paws. My backyard was a paradise for the senses today, complete with birds singing in perfect harmony with the gentle tinkle of the wind chimes. The rays of sun warmed my soul in a way I would have never thought possible so many moons ago. As I breathed in the delicious smell of various types of people food on the grill throughout the neighborhood, I found myself completely caught up in the nature around me.

Nature overwhelmed me with its simplicity today, and in doing so made me reflect on some things. “The sun is new each day,” as ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, and with it comes a whole host of exciting new opportunities. Maybe that mother bird has the right idea with her little nudge toward self-understanding. These changes are not always welcome, but they sure do have a profound impact on our lives. “When the sun is shining I can do anything,” Olympic champion Wilma Rudolph explained, “no mountain is too high, no trouble to difficult to overcome.”

In some ways I was indeed blind that day when my mom left me out to enjoy the sunshine. I was blind to the beauty of nature outside our comfort zones. Blind to the possibilities an open mind affords. Blind to the truth that sometimes the things we fear most may actually prove to be among life’s most promising gifts.

 

If Dogs Ruled The World June 13, 2013

There’s a lot of controversy in politics today. I don’t know a lot about it, but from what I gather from the television a lot of people spend a lot of time debating a lot of things that may or may not actually come to pass in the legal system. While I wouldn’t dare imply these conversations are anything other than necessary stepping stones to the betterment of the world we live in, sometimes I feel like there’s far too much talk leading to not enough action.Love in Truth, Truth in Love

Maybe its the canine in my brain. Most of us dogs act before we think. We make decisions based on impulse rather than a process of deduction or inference. I know (in my mind) it’s not safe to chase that rabbit into the street but it doesn’t stop me from doing it anyway. That grape that falls to the floor could kill my doggie kidneys, but I gulp it up anyway. And (on a more serious note) my instinct is to share my joy with the world even though I’m not certain how eloquently my intentions translate.

Understanding this fundamental difference in processing, I wonder sometimes what it would be like if dogs ruled the world. I have often dreamed of myself in a suit and tie making my way up the steps of Capitol Hill. (This little guy has big thoughts to share with the world.) In my dream, I stand to represent all other dogs wishing to make a difference in the lives of people. I walk my way up to the podium with my list of bills I wish to present for consideration to become laws, I dust off my pants, and I begin.

Love your neighbor as yourself, I say.

And the dream always ends the same way – with the room in an uproar of laughter at my (allegedly ridiculous) proposal. I don’t even get to say my other ideas (like including putting an end to animal cruelty) before I’m escorted away from the podium. I always wake feeling completely and utterly helpless. Feeling helpless is the absolute worst, especially when I know in my heart that us dogs have an abundance of love to share with the world.

So I stand by my idea, even if I never get my moment in Washington DC. To me, we could all use a visit back to basics. I don’t care what those people in my dream think. Like ancient Greek philosopher Plato, I stand for love and its power to change the world.

“Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods,” Plato said.

There’s a lot of controversy in politics today I feel could be solved with some simple doggie truths that are fundamental to our way of life. Listen when you wish you could speak. Love when you want to hate. Make change when you feel comfortable with the status quo. And (perhaps most important of all) stand proudly when others sit because you believe in the power of truth in love.