Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Dog’s Purpose September 26, 2013

It’s a big deal. I don’t know why anyone would say it isn’t. But a pressure exists in our society to figure it out sooner rather than later and I can’t say I agree with that. What are you going to be when you grow up? We ask it of our little people, who (more often than not) respond with some pretty big ideas. They want to be a lawyer. Or a writer. Or (better yet) a balloon maker (this was my mom’s dream job at the tender age of four).Fear to Purpose

Then they start school, and the ideas change. The dreams continue to evolve, but the question doesn’t go away. What do you want to be when you grow up? A lawyer? A writer? (At this point you have matured enough to rule out balloon maker as a profession).

Then comes college where the pressure sounds the worst. What are you going to be when you grow up? Law school sure is expensive. And there sure is a lot of competition to become a writer. How about psychology? Or communications? Or financial planning?

Obviously us canines don’t really go through this whole debacle as we rely on our people to struggle through it on our behalf. (All so they can go to that place called work instead of play with us all the time – a concept I’ll never fully understand). Perhaps because I don’t personally deal with the distraction of the daily grind, I’ve noticed that regardless of where along the line a person ultimately comes upon their answer to this very big question, it has something very significant in common.

None of this matters without purpose. Without passion. I may not have a career, but I’m no stranger to thoughts on what makes up a purpose-filled life. I remember the first time I questioned my purpose right after I was separated from my birth mom and brothers. I feared I would never feel what it’s like to be a family again. I thought I found my purpose in protecting Jo from the man with the leather belt, but he didn’t like that purpose very much and solved that problem by leaving me on the side of the road. I feared I would never know home again. So I spent the majority of my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society questioning my purpose in life. I feared I wouldn’t know love again.

But I have found that fear (especially in our darkest moments) ultimately brings purpose to those who let it. My fears led me to purpose in becoming a valued part of a family in my forever home. I know now with complete certainty that I am fulfilling my purpose in something as simple as that.

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being,” analytical psychologist Carl Jung suggested.

It is a big deal to find one’s purpose. To kindle the light. I don’t know why anyone would say it isn’t. What do I want to be when I grow up? Besides the fact I’ve committed to never actually growing up, I have found what matters. My purpose in life is to be a valued part of my family in my forever home. My purpose is to share joy from the ground up with whomever will take it. My purpose is to live, and bring fear to purpose for me and anyone who knows me. I know my purpose. What’s yours?

 

Dreaming to Wake April 19, 2013

I woke up this morning and I didn’t feel like myself. I felt taller. I felt stronger. Best of all, one of my most insane dreams in life came to life. I could speak human. I looked in the mirror and it all came together. I was my forever dad. Maybe I dreamed too much last night about my forever parents switching places. Maybe this too is a dream. Or is it?

While I would usually sleep my way through the majority of the morning, today the alarm woke me up. I got in the shower (the shower!) and washed myself, which is something I’ve only ever done with my tongue. Not to mention my dislike for the shower, in addition to being awake so early. I got dressed in something other than my doggie Packer jersey and drove the car to that place they call work. What an experience that was! While I’m not that big a fan of being dressed (or wearing shoes!), I do love car rides and somehow the driving came pretty naturally.

At this point in the day I was pretty darned hyped up to be living this new life. I was finally able to tell my forever mom how much I loved her before I left, drive a car (which is one of my biggest doggie wishes) and now I was discovering what this place called work was like! It must be exciting for my dad to be gone at this place for five days a week. I met all the people I’ve heard him talk about, and only my dad’s friend Kyle mentioned that I’d forgotten to zip up my pants. (Can you blame me, if I’ve never worn pants before?)

That’s when things took a turn for the worst. I went to my dad’s desk where there were two computer screens looking at me. I kind of remember mom saying something about him being some sort of engineer and wondering what that meant. Well, not only do I know absolutely nothing about engineering, I had no idea what to say to the computers. I’ve obviously done my fair share of blogging, but this was definitely new to me. The minutes ticked by, turning into hours, and I couldn’t believe how long the day felt. And here I’d thought my days of naps were so long because I wasn’t with my people? This was far worse. I found myself wondering how long this bizarre situation would last. Would I ever be me again? Fast AsleepFeeling Sleepy

Indeed, I would be me again. In fact, I was me all along. The rustling of the mailman coming by with the mail this afternoon woke me from what might have been one of the deepest sleeps I’ve had recently. it seems I was somehow dreaming within a dream.

Today made me realize there’s this thing about dreams. Regardless of when they happen (awake or asleep), they teach us something about what we’re really thinking. Best known for his thoughts on personality theories and psychological archetypes, psychologist Carl Jung laid foundations for what would become analytical psychology. I may not be that big a fan of this particular facet of thinking, but I do agree with his thought that he “who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

I can’t say for sure whether I was looking outside or inside in my dream. What I do know is that I have a newfound respect for my dad and his place called work. I now know it’s nothing I could do every day, but I respect him that much more for what he does. Somehow for me, my dreams have woke me up to a whole new world of perspective and appreciation for my blessings in life.

 

Singing in the Rainbows February 27, 2013

Singing in the RainbowsTwenty. That is the magic number of beliefs Darren Hayes of Savage Garden rattles off in “Affirmation.” I can’t say I agree with all twenty thoughts, but I know what is true to me. “I don’t believe. I know,” as analytical psychologist Carl Jung said.

Why is it then that some days it isn’t easy to know or believe? You know the ones. Those “one of those days” kind of days, when literally everything that can go wrong actually does. I remember one particularly awful day in the house I lived in before my forever family found me. It was spring, and there was a really big storm that clambered on all night. Sharing that home with three other dogs and two cats made me realize how well I do in thunderstorms compared to other dogs. Burt, the seven-year-old black lab mix, howled all night long.

The alarm didn’t go off the next morning because I’m convinced Burt broke the power with all his howling. Barbara and Jim woke up late, irritable and exhausted. Barbara got a run in her nylons, burned her forehead with her curling iron, and spilled coffee on her coat as she ran out the door. James forgot to feed us before he left for work. None of the animals got along that day. That was the day I realized negativity is unfortunately just as contagious as optimism.

But much like the storm that came before it, the day came to a close and we were all reminded that even “those days” will pass. And that’s when rainbows happen.

Regardless of what you choose to believe, I am finding the spiritual awakening in Simple Abundance to be as real as the rainbows that follow storms. “With each day of the journey, you have become more open to the mystery, the magic and the majesty of the Master Plan because you are committed to your spiritual awakening,” Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests. “You don’t have to just believe anymore because you know.”

Sure, it is sometimes easier to throw up my paws and believe the world has turned its back on me. Sometimes it is easier not to believe or know anything for certain. But I’ve never been one to do things the easy way.

 

Learning to Live February 10, 2013

Influential psychotherapist Carl Jung would have classified me as an extrovert for sure. Known best for his personality theories, Jung’s works dug to the core of the human psyche to piece together its innermost workings.

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings,” Jung wrote. “The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”Learning to Live

I was thinking today about how far I’ve come since my adoptive parents rescued me from the humane society two and a half years ago. The clearance dog that I was, I know my doggie adoption profile featured me as one of those difficult fixer-upper kind of dogs. There were a lot of references to me being a “really loving boy who really just needs some tender loving care” or something like that. Which (let’s face it) basically meant my new owners would have their hands full.

I was sent home from the shelter with what they called a “care package” that primarily included little doggie diapers because apparently I had such a potty problem in my previous adoptive home. My new adoptive parents were required to take me to see an animal behaviorist prior to adopting me because I was such a “problem” dog. The only trick I knew then was sit. So you can imagine my internal victory when the behaviorist told them some magical news that day. “He’s really smart,” she said. “I don’t know why the folks at the shelter would think he needs to see a behaviorist.” Halleluiah! A human who saw something in me, believed in me.

It’s amazing what a little faith in character can do for a relationship. I knew at first sight I could trust my forever mom and dad, for example. And as much as I hopelessly long to speak people, my adoptive mom and I communicate pretty well with each other. I would argue this is because the Jungian warmth we gain from our mutual affection.

“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists,” said great American author John Steinbeck. “Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”

I know I’m incredibly biased, but I see my mom as one heck of an artist in the tapestry of my life. She has patiently (and tirelessly) taught me numerous tricks (with a little help from treats), like lay down, rollover, play dead, and (my own personal favorite) high five. I’ve never once needed my doggie diapers since I’ve been living in my forever home. And first visit to the behaviorist was also my last.

But by no means does that mean I’ve stopped learning. It is a rare occasion, but today I shall disagree with fellow transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau in his thought that “it is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know.”

Rather, living is learning. I rarely go a day without experiencing something new, which I welcome into my life as part of my personality. Perhaps it’s the extrovert in me, but (on this one at least) I side with stoic Roman philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca, who said “as long as you live, keep learning how to live.”