Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Adventure Becomes Us July 21, 2013

I knew as soon as we woke up that today would be special. There was a sense of adventure in the air. And, like most emotions, it’s contagious. The funny thing is, I don’t think my forever people were on to me. It was no secret they were excited about something, and as they hustled and bustled around the house I got excited too.

The dreaded suitcase made its way back out, and with it all the supplies for what I recognized as camping. Then mom said the magic word and confirmed my hopes and dreams for the day. Do you want to go camping, Wiley? (Silly mom, always asking me questions she already knows the answer to.) So I watched excitedly as mom and dad packed the car to the brim and off we went.

We drove to a beautiful campsite a few hours away, but as we approached the sense of adventure in the car morphed itself into a sense of impending doom. It was sunny where we came from, but it was dark where we were going. Storm clouds hovered directly over the destination, growing in intensity as we approached. Mom kept a positive attitude, saying over and over that it will be an adventure. Dad didn’t seem convinced.

I whined as I watched them struggle to assemble the tent in the downpour, wishing I could help somehow. It’s okay, mom kept saying to dad, it will be an adventure. Then came defeat. The tent that was to be our safe haven for the next few days contained within it a swimming pool of rain held up by unstable poles in the soggy sand. And down it went.

Something kind of magical happened as we all watched the tent collapse. Right there in the rain, sopping wet and frustrated, mom and dad broke out into the most ruckus laughter I’ve heard from them in a while. It was loud and it kept going and going, as they got more and more drenched. It seemed a little silly to me (I wish they could have enjoyed their laughter with me in the safety and dryness of the car), but it still made my day.

It all reminded me of the words of English novelist George Eliot who challenged that “adventure is not outside a man, it’s within.” That was us today. We were adventure.

When the giggles subsided, they packed up the tent, loaded up the car, and we headed back to the comforts of home. It rained the whole way, but I didn’t mind. I got to spend the entire day with my two favorite people in the whole world. It was among the longest car rides I’ve ever had in a single day. And I could tell they were disappointed, but in my humble opinion it was exactly what my mom wanted. It was an adventure that I’m certain none of us will forget any time soon.

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Money Can’t Buy Happiness January 12, 2013

Its just moneyThey say money doesn’t grow on trees. Seems pretty obvious to me.

If there is one thing I’ve heard a lot of people argue about its this money thing. There never seems to be enough of it. Then there’s this whole fiscal cliff thing that was going to happen, then didn’t happen, but people aren’t sure whether it still might happen or how it will affect them whether or not it happens. It all sounds like a bunch of hooey to me. My perception on the matter is that regardless of what happens, it ultimately will not affect the underlying problem that money does not buy happiness.

I think a very insightful lesson can be learned from a dog’s perspective on money. As one who has always been at the complete mercy of people with or without money to spend on me, I know I can’t fullyWhat would I spend this on? understand what this whole money debacle is all about. I’ve gone from scavenging for food on the streets, to eating the donated food at the shelter, to eating some pretty darned yummy stuff in my forever home. I know food isn’t free. I get lots of neat toys and chews and even bones that clean my teeth. Today my parents came home from the store with these surprisingly yummy things they kept calling joint vitamins shaped like little bones. I ate mine up as soon as I could. I know toys, chews and vitamins aren’t free. Everything costs something.

While nice to have, none of these things define happiness for me. The things are just things. Sure, the resulting smiles of mom and dad when we play with Mrs. Prickles or Flea are pretty great. Yes, its nice to have people like me just a little bit more because I don’t have the typical “dog breath” (which I’ve heard can be quite stinky). And (of course) its nice not to have to scavenge the streets for yummy food. But the thing is we could be playing with a blanket or a piece of cardboard and have just as good a time. I’d still get along well with people if I had stinky breath. And I could (probably) survive on most normal doggie diets sans joint vitamins.

Simple Abundance got me to thinking about this today, which is ironic since I noticed mom was counting some money on the bed (which I instantly viewed as a comfy new place to lay down), and I could tell by the look on her face that this money is pretty special. It is what she calls “adventure” money, hidden away in dad’s watch box. From what I can tell, this adventure money is used by mom and dad to go to exciting places with (or without) me like camping or this spa place mom likes called Sundara. But its still not this adventure money that buys happiness. Its the moments. Its the memories from the moments. Moments and memories that create “happy places” for mom and dad to reflect on when things seem otherwise gloomy.

It seems ironic to me that money – this thing that is supposed to provide all these amazing things in life – can be rightfully referred to by Breathnach as a “dark, menacing shadow” for people.

Man, have I got it good. Perhaps a dog’s way is one of the best ways to look at money…as a special (above the ordinary) gift…even if it doesn’t grow on trees. While I’ve never quite made sense of the money on trees concept, there is one frame of mind I firmly believe can be derived from life. Money can’t buy happiness. Simple as that.Doesn't Buy Happiness


Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures December 28, 2012

Existentialism fascinates me. The philosophical theory that experiences define one’s existence was strongly influenced by German novelist Frank Kafka who said, “we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.” Well, that is the story of my year.

Good, bad or indifferent, 2012 was a year of firsts for me. I travelled to exciting new places, I earned the right to sleep in my parent’s room (instead of that blasted crate), and I had brushes with death that made me place a higher value on life. Its tough to pick just one “high” or “low” point, so I have chosen to review my most memorable moments as a means to recognize these existential moments that define my existence.

Memory lane 2012 began with me longing for the snow we saw at the start of 2011.

The great February blizzard of 2011 was very great indeed. I was disappointed by the lack of snow we saw this year, but the extra time exploring the great outdoors later in the year proved worth the wait…

In June, I took my first camping trip to Mirror Lake near Wisconsin Dells. I loved every second of it! All the new smells, sights, sounds….I know mom and dad were worried about me being quiet in the tent with them, but I was so exhausted after all our hiking on the trails that I paid little attention to the sounds of the night. Life lesson: Variety really is the spice of life.

In July, I got a haircut…while not my first, it was one of the shortest cuts I’ve ever had. I felt so free. Life lesson: “Beauty isn’t worth thinking about; what’s important is your mind. You don’t want a fifty-dollar haircut on a fifty-cent head” – Garrison Keillor.

In August, I met Diesel…one of my mom’s pals’ new puppy. I relished our moments together when I was bigger than him. He’s a chow/lab mix, so I knew he’d be bigger than me almost instantly. But I look forward to having him as a lifelong mate. Life lesson: “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down,” – Oprah Winfrey.

September was an especially exciting month. I went to my first race at Elkhart Lake. While I’m not sure I understand the point of the cars going around and around the track, it was my kind of day. I got to be somewhere new with my people in the gorgeous outdoors. The Friday night football game about a week later held a similar appeal – one of the little people in the family was playing in the game, so it was even more exciting to be there to root him on. Life lesson: I like race days and football. Simple as that.

In October, I travelled with my family way up north and impersonated president Lincoln on the World’s Largest Penny. It was also around this time that my mom finally convinced my dad to let me sleep in their bedroom with them instead of having me sleep in a crate in a room down the hall. It might seem silly, but that is a big deal to me. Life lesson: Appreciate the small things-they may not be as tiny as they seem.

Remember that though by Kafka about the bites and stings? November quite literally brought a few of those for me. It was uncharacteristically warm in Wisconsin, so I had a few teeny tiny little unwelcome visitors take shelter in my fur. Not one, not two, but three deer ticks I had to contend with this fall. Fortunately for me, my mom and dad pet me on such a regular basis that they found them all and removed them before it became a bigger problem.

Mid-month brought my biggest struggle. It was one of the first frigid days of the winter season, but I was still so excited to go to one of my most favorite places in this whole world: the dog park. Mom kept talking about how it was the last time of the year, so I prepared myself for some fun. It was disappointing to get there and have there only be two other dogs to play with, but I didn’t care. I ran right up on the picnic table to greet a breed I know to be called a pit bull and was unpleasantly surprised with the result. It’s hard for me to tell what happened next, because I kind of blacked out, but I’ve overheard my mom tell the story enough times to know it wasn’t pleasant. From what she’s said, that pit bull had me dangling four feet in the air by its teeth, while still atop that picnic table for a good minute before I fell to the ground with my tail between my legs. The next thing I can remember is my eye hurting and that nice lady at the vet telling me how lucky I was that the scratch in my eye wasn’t worse…I could have lost my sight. Life lesson: Seeing is believing.

But November also brought a high for me in all the extra time I got to spend with mom while she’s been on what I have now heard her call a leave of absence for recovery on her leg surgery. Life lesson: If you look for it, joy actually is all around.

Such became the stepping stone for my blog, which I would call December’s most memorable moment. And so it is…here we are at the end of December reflecting on the year. At its most basic application, existentialism claims one is defined by his or her experiences. And with that, I would agree that 2012 experiences have contributed to who I am – good, bad, or indifferent.