Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

If I Were a Human December 28, 2013

I wonder sometimes what I would be like if I had two legs instead of four. If I walked amongst people as one of their own. If I could carry on a normal conversation instead of relying (almost) entirely on nonverbal communication.

In these thoughts I find I am not so concerned with what I look like (though I’m sure I’d be blonde haired and brown eyed) or what kind of clothes I would wear. I don’t think it would matter to me what kind of car I drove, or how big my house was. Would I? Money Can't Buy Love

I daydreamed today that I was human and won the lottery. And not just the $3 dad occasionally wins and splits with his work friends as part of their weekly lottery pool. I won big time. One billion dollars. What would I do with such winnings?

In my daydream, I bought everything my people ever wanted. That house in a better school district. Those fancy shoes mom is always lusting after. The Shelby Mustang dad dreams about. The honeymoon they never took. I bought it all and there was still plenty leftover to donate to some of my favorite charities (like the humane society and ISF) and invest in something that would produce enough income to allow mom to stay home with the little person. (Dad too, if he wanted).

As I daydreamed, my people were away dreaming a dream of their own. Dad has been on a mission to replace their cars with what he refers to as newer safer ones. Words like reliability and dependability seem to have gained a new level of importance now that the little person is on his or her way any day now. But upon returning home it didn’t take me long to see the disappointment in their faces. This dream can’t come true. Not right now.

And I found myself wondering again what I would be like with two legs instead of four. Would I need the lottery and all the fancy things it could provide? Or would I prefer to earn an honest living as a struggling author who volunteers at the local animal shelter on the weekends?

I’m quite certain there is no right answer. And all of this is made much more complicated by my overall lack of understanding of how the whole money thing even works. I don’t know what I would be like if I were human any more than my people know what it would be like to win the lottery. And tonight as we three musketeers settled in together to watch a movie I realized that’s okay. Because we’re happy this way.

Besides, “greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction,” suggested German psychologist Erich Fromm. It doesn’t matter whether I have two legs or four. I’d much rather live life happy than in endless pursuit. Keep your money, bottomless pit. It’s happiness I choose.

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Keeps On Giving August 5, 2013

It all started with a gift. It was Christmas Day 1997 and my mom and her little sister only asked Santa Claus for one thing that year. A puppy. They wrote to Santa, talked to him at the mall (several times), and prayed together every night that their wish for a puppy would come true.

So you can imagine their disappointment when there was no puppy under the tree on Christmas morning. It didn’t matter that there was plenty of other shiny packages with pretty ribbons and bows. There was no puppy. But a surprise lurked under the tree that later proved to be even better than a puppy. It was a package with a promise inside. “This coupon is good for one rescue puppy.”

It wasn’t from Santa either. It was from mom’s parents. They wanted mom and her sister (who were 12- and 8-people-years-old at the time) to be part of the process of picking the perfect puppy. And they wanted the puppy to be a rescue dog from the local animal shelter. It didn’t take long before they found her. Pheobe. It was love at first sight. Pheobe was the one.Gratitude

Phoebe counseled mom and her little sister through their remaining years as little people as only us canines can do. She got dolled up in all sorts of clothes, learned most of the same tricks mom would later teach me (give kiss was a favorite of hers), and made mischief that brought joy to the hearts of the entire family. She was the very definition of the gift that keeps on giving.

Later in her life, she went to live with my mom’s great-grandma to keep her company after great-grandpa went to heaven. She’d grown a bit less spunky then, but had a gift for simply being there. She was an extra set of ears to listen. An extra set of eyes to see. An extra heart to love.

Sometimes it happens suddenly. Other times it happens over time. I’ve seen it happen both ways and I don’t think one is any easier than the other. Loss is loss. When it happens doesn’t fill the gaping hole left in the hearts of those left behind. It was a gradual decline for Phoebe, but that doesn’t negate the truth that the world lost another canine treasure today. Pheobe went to doggie heaven today, after 18 years of bringing all sorts of joy to the hearts of many.

But it all ends with a gift. And, just like Phoebe, it’s not wrapped in pretty paper or tied up with ribbons. It’s nothing fancy. In fact, it’s about as simple as it gets. We never got to meet in person, but we didn’t have to for me to know the gift Pheobe granted me. My gift from Pheobe was the same as that one my mom opened all those years ago. It was a promise. This coupon is good for one rescue puppy. Thanks to the relationship my mom had with Phoebe growing up, it turns out that coupon was good for more than one rescue puppy. So far, it’s been good for two. I will always have Pheobe to thank for that.

Rest in peace, dear Pheobe. You will be missed.