Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Fighting Life’s Fires February 18, 2015

It’s never just one thing. I find as an observer of people that it’s usually many things that snowball into one of two categories. Good or bad, I look to find the silver lining in whatever may be happening in the world around me. But there are some days when that is easier said than done.

Because my time as an observer of people has taught me a thing or two about life. From the ground up, bad things happen to good people all the time.

Take today, for example. I don’t think a single person with whom I come into contact had a good day. Mom has been fighting the same darned cold for weeks now, and it’s really starting to bother her. She’s sick of being sick, she says. Dad encountered obstacle after obstacle at work. Dear baby Carter wasn’t himself from another lousy night of sleep the night before. But of that was nothing compared to what happened to my dear aunt Morgan.

It’s been frigidly cold here in my neck of the Wisconsin woods lately. Almost record-breakingly cold. I would go so far as to say 20 degrees has felt like a heat wave in recent weeks. So when the call came into my grandma (who was watching Carter while mom was at that place called work), I guess I wasn’t all that surprised.

My deaFeeling Sleepy On the Jobr aunt Morgan fell on some ice that has been neglected near her apartment complex. She was in pain. She was cold. And she was scared. I could hear it in her voice how scared she was.

Apparently my forever mom got a similar phone call a few minutes after it happened, because within about 20 minutes of the original call to grandma, she was home from that place called work. She came home so grandma could go help Morgan.

The last I heard, the fall may have resulted in some sort of knee damage, though it may be too early to tell how serious. My first (albeit emotional) response to everything that happened in such a short period of time was that there couldn’t possibly be a silver lining to this story. Because it’s never just one thing, and today the snowball went very quickly in a negative direction.

That is until I thought about what happened in that time between the fall and mom’s return home. Sure, Carter was pretty oblivious to what was happening. He just went about playing with all sorts of things he thinks are toys (while simultaneously disregarding his actual toys). But mom and dad and grandma came together to fight the fire together. The moving parts all worked together to address the situation in an effective and timely manner.

I’ve heard of this thing called flashover in a fire. In simple language, it’s the point of no return and it happens quicker than you might think. But that didn’t happen today. Because my people came together and they made it work. They do that a lot, now that I think about it. The fires happen, but they fight them together and everything is okay in the end. If that isn’t a silver lining, I don’t know what is.

 

If At First You Don’t Succeed January 27, 2015

Persistence. Determination. Strength. From the ground up, these are some big-picture words in my world. They get you through the valleys and up to the mountains. They push you to the limit. I’ve always been a believer in the British writer W. E. Hickson’s words “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

It’s a simple thought. And I think it applies to a lot of challenging situations. We all encounter hurdles on our journey through life, and we all fall from time to time. In the short-term, it might be the best thing to do. Happiness.

But in the long-term, I wonder sometimes if it’s really always best to try, try again. Life happens in ways we can’t anticipate sometimes, and I think there can be hurdles that seem to multiply before our eyes.

That was the case for my dear forever mom today. In itself, there was nothing that out of the ordinary that happened. After an incredibly productive morning, her presentation for work this afternoon went off without a hitch. She managed to keep a group of more than 60 middle school students entertained for a half hour immediately following their lunch break. I’d say that is a feat in itself. Everything was great.

Then it happened. Somewhere between answering her work phone for the nineteenth time in a row while finishing up the story she was working on and keeping an eye on the mashed potatoes on the stovetop and trying not to overcook the pork roast in the oven and cleaning up after Carter as he decorated the kitchen floor with pots, pans, lids and tupperware containers and ultimately carrying Carter as she danced around the kitchen because he simply could not stand to be on the floor one more second, she lost it.

Not because of any one thing in particular. The snuggle time from Carter was actually kind of nice. But the sum of the parts got to her in a way I know it wouldn’t have if she weren’t 20 weeks pregnant. She’s firing full speed ahead as if nothing were different, but the truth is it’s starting to catch up with her.

And that’s okay.

It was okay to let that one last phone call go to voicemail. It was okay to save that story to finish for tomorrow. It was okay that dad ran to get takeout because the potatoes somehow got overcooked and the pork was undercooked. It was okay that (for once) the kitchen and rest of the house were a complete mess when dad got home from that place called work. It was okay.

Because persistence, determination and strength can only take us so far sometimes. Limits are real, and need to be respected for a reason. If at first you don’t succeed, it’s okay to try again tomorrow instead of today. In some cases it’s better.

Like today, when dad finally convinced mom to just stop. To take a breath. And sit down. And snuggle dear Carter. And tomorrow we will try, try again.

 

The Truth About Neediness January 6, 2015

I think it’s supposed to be an insult. Or maybe something akin to a bad thing. But I refuse to see it that way. Not today. Not ever.

To me me there is never a bad time for snuggles, cuddles and pets. All things hug-related are more than welcome in my world any time. But there are certain times when it’s not just welcome. It’s almost like a need. Hence the nickname I (proudly) earned today.

Needy. From the ground up, it’s no insult to me. I heard it a bunch today, because I wouldn’t leave mom alone. I pushed and shoved and strategically placed myself in all kinds of compromising positions to be near her today. I climbed up onto her lap. I snuggled into her legs. I needed her, because I think she needed me. Feeling Blue

Call it doggie instinct, but something is definitely up with her recently. She seems distracted and nervous about something I can’t quite put my paw on. So to me I am simply fulfilling my doggie duty to her by being this so-called “needy.” For me it’s one of the only ways I can show how much I care.

And in truth, I think we all need to be a little needy from time to time. Whatever the reason, life happens and it’s not always pretty. Like yesterday when everyone I know seemed to be having a bad day. Or today, when lives are turned upside down by car accidents and car troubles due to the extremely frigid weather. Bad days happen.

And when they do, it’s okay to be needy. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to find a shoulder to cry on. It’s okay not to be perfect. And if you are blessed enough to have people to rely on, now is the time. Not tomorrow or the next day.

So they call me needy. That’s okay. Because I am a firm believer in the words of Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who suggested “life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” If my experience is a needy one, so be it. It simply means I’m doing my part in life.