Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

I Can See The Birds March 4, 2015

They’re back. The winged beauties that fill the branches of trees throughout my backyard paradise during the spring, summer and fall months have arrived. I heard their chirps echo through the air this morning as I basked in a balmy 23-degree sunlight for a few minutes while I was outside. Pausing to smell the snowflakes

Perspective is a funny thing when it comes to weather around here. Though most people would consider 23-degrees far from balmy (and even Wisconsinites have been known to reach for the winter coats, hats and mittens when it first happens in October or November), it feels warm after another frigid winter like the one we’ve had. (Forget the winter coats, because it feels like spring!)

So my first thought when I heard the familiar banter between the sparrows and and finches was that it seems too early for them to be back. It may have been 23 degrees today, but it’s supposed to be mighty chilly again tomorrow. Not to mention the lingering inches of snow that still cover the ground.

But the second the those thoughts crossed my mind, I pushed them aside. Because in spite of my concern for their safety and well being, they are a sight for sore eyes. They are one of the first signs that spring is coming. Relief and renewal and rejuvenation are on their way. Soon the air will be warmer again, and dear baby Carter and I will resume our playtime silliness in the green grass of the backyard.

Only I know this year will be different. This year, spring means we are getting even closer to the arrival of little person no. 2, who is set to arrive in early June.

I’m not sure how that will change things for my outdoor plans, but I’m hopeful the bit of extra time mom will have at home with the new baby will mean a bit of extra time for all of us to enjoy the sunshine together.

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush,” suggested Wisconsin columnist Doug Larson. I don’t know much about wearing shoes. And I can’t whistle.

But I can see the birds. And I think that’s a pretty good sign of things to come.

 

Up With The Birds July 14, 2014

It happens at the exact same time every day. 4:11 a.m. Whether there is a downpour of rain or the sun is shining, they are always there. Even when the snow flies, a few stick around. Birds. From the ground up, they are always there. At times I side with my mom and find them incredibly annoying. Like when they wake dear baby Carter up earlier than usual. Or my forever mom and dad for that matter. But, like most things, it’s which side of the coin you want to land on.Joy

Because at times, I side with my mom (she can’t make up her mind either) and find them incredibly calming. Peaceful even. I think that’s one of the reasons she has a newfound interest in bird watching in my backyard paradise. In addition to a bird bath or two, there are more feeders out than usual. And, unlike summers past, she has been diligent about keeping them filled to the brim with delicious concoctions of seed, including sunflower seeds that I occasionally snag from the ground by my favorite feeder in the far corner.

Today she was working from home over her lunch hour when it happened. It wasn’t anything that out of the ordinary. Yet there she sat on her favorite patio chair, typing away on that laptop of hers, shaded slightly by her happy orange umbrella (as she calls it) soaking up the sun with a mug of hot tea in hand. Carter was napping inside and I was curled in the shade up at her feet. It wasn’t much. A stranger would have missed it. But not me. She spotted the cardinal duo (male and female) that visits every day around the same time and sighed a big ole happy sigh that made my heart smile.

Sure, we as a family collectively curse those birds outside the windows when dear baby Carter wakes up before his normal time. Or when the chirping alone wakes my parents. But today I was reminded of what beauty is signified in the routine these dear birds have. It happens at the same time every day. 4.11 a.m. The weather doesn’t matter. The storms that rolled through yesterday are a thing of the past. Today is a new day. A fresh start. And that brings the sincerest sense of peace to my heart.

 

A Bird’s Eye View June 10, 2014

I find it’s more likely to happen when the skies are grey like a rain storm is coming. Then when it doesn’t I breathe a sigh of relief since I (like most dogs) don’t particularly care for the thunderstorms that occasionally accompany our summer days in my neck of the woods. They are loud and obnoxious and sometimes the thunder hurts my ears.

Dreaming a little dreamDays like today are interesting in their own kind of way because they remind me the slightest bit of the freezing cold doldrums of winter in the Midwest United States. Except in addition to the warmer temperatures, there is something present now that is not around in those times.

Birds. The more I observe them, the more I know it to be true. There is not much I envy about their lives other than this one thing. They can fly. I know that unless I ever travel a far enough distance with my forever people on an airplane, I will mostly likely never know what it’s like to fly. Sure, I hold my head out the window of a driving car with the best of them. And I’ve been known to clear three or four feet in a horizontal jump. But this is not the same as flying.

I thought of this today as my dear Aunt Morgan is on her way home from a far away place. As I type, she is waiting on a delayed flight out of Denver, Colorado, with no cell phone and no charger. At first I wondered what she would do with herself since she (like my dear forever mom) is terribly attached to that so-called Smartphone of hers. But that’s okay. I don’t need to talk to her to know what’s happening.

It’s a favorite past time of mine in fact. People watching. From the ground up, a lot can be learned from this tradition I’ve perfected over the years. I think I’ve learned more from observing people than people would even like to know.

One such lesson I’ve learned to take note of when the skies are grey and a rain storm is coming. Sure, when it comes to flight, it’s all relative. I say this both figuratively and literally, as I believe English humorist Douglas Adams may have said it himself.

“Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss,” he said. My perspective doesn’t need to be a bird’s eye view for me to know this as truth.

 

Bring Me That Horizon February 25, 2013

There are a lot of things in a dog’s life that are uncertain. What we eat, when we eat it, when we go to the bathroom, and when we go for walks are circumstances mostly controlled by our people. We are at the mercy of our people for so many things that I’ve come to see my people as my constants in life. They are everything to me. And, as it is my life’s mission to bring optimism to life, I find there is wisdom in uncertainty.

I’m convinced this is a lesson lost on the birds in my backyard. I heard them talking incessantly to each other this morning in the tree outside my bedroom window. They were arguing about the weather, which is expected to fluctuate in extremes again from sunny and warm today to snowy and frigid tomorrow. In my experience the only way to silence them is to scare them away. Off they flew as soon as I got outside this morning, leaving me alone again to contemplate existence in peace.

As I watched them scatter into the morning horizon, it was almost as if an old medieval proverb came to life before my eyes. I’ve never cared to understand it before, so it took me by surprise to find myself reflecting on the meaning of “a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.” Though it is thought of as cliché to some people, the idea behind the phrase is that it is better to embrace certainty than take a chance and lose everything in the process.

I’m not certain of a lot of things, but I find an odd solace in that truth. Sarah Ban Breathnach recently reminded me in Simple Abundance to give thanks for truths like this. “You know what you need to do today, not tomorrow,” she writes. “Take another look at your life. Give thanks. Accept your circumstances. Give thanks. Count your blessings. Give thanks. Above all, have faith in yourself and Divine Change.”

That faith may not come easily, but I would rather take a chance on faith than embrace certainty.

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time,” French writer Andre Gide advised.Bring Me That Horizon

Well then, I say bring me that horizon.

There isn’t much in terms of physical risks to take in a dog’s life, so I chose to risk what I can control: my perspective. The fruits of my heart and mind are certain to me.