Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Color Blue December 2, 2013

There is usually crying. And some yelling. And some choice words. It’s not a pleasant thing to witness, and yet I am at the mercy of those engaged it the middle of it all. I have no choice but to stand by and observe. Arguments.

They doesn’t happen often in the Schmidt home, but when they do they definitely fall into a category of conversations I would prefer to never have heard. Yet I remain by both mom and dad (a tricky place to be in such situations), steadfast and true. I love them both with equal halves of my heart and never take sides.Listen Here

Except for once. I remember because it was a dreary early winter day like today a few years ago. The grey mood of the sky was directly reflective of the emotional context of my forever family. Mom had been blue for a while. And not blue like the color. She was sad. I think I knew it before dad because us canines have a way of sensing these things. She was tired a lot. She wasn’t as responsive to my attempts to engage in chase or pickle in the middle. It seems that place called work was among the things that had worn her down into a shell-like version of herself.

So I sided with dad the day he confronted her about it. I hated seeing her that way, and she needed to hear everything he had to say. It wasn’t comfortable for any of us, yet I know that was a day we will not soon forget. It will stick with us for all of the right reasons and none of the wrong. And it wasn’t fun.

Crying, yelling and choice words were among the key players. I remember wishing I could be somewhere (anywhere) else but in that room. But then I remember the color blue mom was then and see how happy she is now and I realize how important those conversations can be.

“The character of a man is known from his conversations,” suggested Ancient Greek dramatist Menander. In that case, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that sometimes the toughest conversations are the most important ones to have. They show love, not hate. They show concern, not contempt. And ultimately they lead to joy, even if it doesn’t seem that way in the moment.

 

The Pursuit of Happiness July 4, 2013

Disappointment. In a word, that is apparently how thousands of people who attended the 3rd of July fireworks in my hometown felt in response to the highly anticipated event. It was gloomy, foggy and cooler than anticipated for the spectators, the majority of whom had been holding their spots for the fireworks show as long as a couple of days. And after all that time waiting, the show was much more a feast for the ears than the eyes.

Silly FaceTonight the noise carries on as people celebrate Independence Day all over America. It’s a day set aside to remember the sacrifices that have been made for our freedoms, and (in turn) pause to recognize the anniversary of the birth of our independence. The day is laden with traditions, most of which have always involved parades, picnics and fireworks. In a dog’s life, that means a day filled with treats, treats, and more treats. (Watermelon anyone?)

Though I have to admit I have never particularly cared for the loud bangs and booms that accompany fireworks, I do believe wholeheartedly in what they represent. They are bright, colorful and vibrant as they create a beautiful masterpiece in the sky. Aglow with radiating light, spectators smile and laugh and bond with family in these precious moments. Memories are created that last forever.

Unfortunately for the thousands of people who attended the fireworks in my hometown yesterday, the memories aren’t very positive. It was certainly a show they’ll never forget, but not in a good way. This got me thinking about what today is really about. Freedom. Liberty. Sacrifice. The pursuit of happiness.

None of these are found in fireworks. In fact, the fireworks gone awry remind me a bit of our best laid plans that tend to skid off track sometimes. It’s frustrating. No one likes or appreciates the detour (while it’s happening at least). And for good reason. Valuable time and effort goes into planning something so it is upsetting when things don’t turn out. And we do love and embrace our traditions. But things don’t always turn out.

Disappointment. Thousands of people felt it four about an hour straight yesterday. It is in these moments, when we’re about to let that demon of negativity into our hearts and minds, that it is most important for us to make our own fireworks. To be our own fireworks. To bring light and smiles to those around us and (in turn) to ourselves.  Let’s start ourselves a new tradition of sharing the fireworks of joy this year. That way no one will even notice if the actual fireworks are a gloomy haze of nothingness.