Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

To Have Faith April 1, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:29 pm
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It’s one of those things when you don’t even know what to say. All roads point to everything not good. There is nothing positive. No silver lining. And there is nothing anyone can do about it. Crisis. From the ground up, it’s not my strong suit. Think with the Heart

Tonight it’s happening to a close friend of the family. Someone close to my heart is struggling with a very emotionally challenging situation that is making her question everything. Which makes my heart ache. Because I wish I could intervene. I wish I could step in and make it all better somehow. Yet I know I can’t. In fact, if watching people as long as I have has taught me anything, usually you make it worse when you try.

So I do what I can do. I listen. I love. And I pray. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

“The world is a crazy, beautiful, ugly complicated place, and it keeps moving on from crisis to strangeness to beauty to weirdness to tragedy,” suggested American journalist David Remnick.

Most days I believe in the dichotomy of the world around us, though I simultaneously choose to embrace joy and cast aside negativity. Yet I also know and respect that is not always how life is. There are ups and downs and good times and bad times, but I think that’s where the grey area stops and black and white begins.

Because you can’t have one without the other. Life balances out, naturally, often without any thanks to what we do or don’t do. God works it out, just as He intended, and just as He planned.

I know this knowledge may not help in the moment. Not in the crazy awful grizzly moments when you don’t know what to say. It may seem like all roads point to everything not good and there is nothing positive and no silver lining. But it’s not up to us in those cases to find any of that. It will find us.

Because it’s in these moments, in the midst of crisis, when it’s most important to have faith.

So tonight I pray.

 

 

Forgive and Forget January 5, 2015

It was worse than I thought. Way worse. True to form, it seems to me that negativity spread like wildfire today as it has a way of doing if we let it. I’m sure it didn’t help that we are experiencing record low temperatures around here (with wind chills in the -30 degree range, whatever that means). And I think that thing called work had a lot to do with it as well.

Regardless of the reason, it seems to me like today is a day where more than one person I care about just wants to put behind them. Individual circumstances vary, but I get the impression that tomorrow can’t come soon enough.

Dear aunt Morgan’s car wouldn’t start. My grandma slipped on some ice getting her mail and hurt her knee. My mom’s friend Mel had an abnormally challenging day. Work was generally impossible for everyone I encountered.

Around here, dad had a generally awful day. And mom spent a lot of time on the phone while trying to simultaneously tend to a very whiny dear baby Carter. I knew it was worse than usual when she lost her temper and shouted at him to shut up. It isn’t like her to yell at him like that, and the tone of her voice sent even me into a panic as I ran off into the nearest corner.

The breaking point. From the ground up, it looks different for everyone. I saw mom’s today and it wasn’t pretty. But something tells me she wasn’t alone. She isn’t alone. It happens to everyone from time to time for a variety of reasons.

And today I think I found the antidote. Because it was worse than I thought. Going back to reality wasn’t just tough for my dad as I feared it would be, but for a lot of people I care about. So when it happened later this afternoon, I felt my heart leap out of my chest with joy.

He forgave her. Even though the look in his eyes when mom hollered at him was one of surprised terror, when Carter woke up from his afternoon nap a couple hours later, all was forgiven and forgotten. I knew it for sure because when she went to get him out of his crib, he was even happier to see her than usual. He was standing there to greet her, and when she opened the door he literally giggled with glee to the point where his smile was making him shake with happiness. Mom hasn’t laughed so hard in days.

It reminded me it is possible to forgive and forget more than just people. Days are awful sometimes. And they happen to all of us. But there is always tomorrow, so why not forgive today?

 

Never Give Up March 19, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:35 pm
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It’s happened pretty frequently throughout the last few months. My people haven’t been sleeping. I haven’t been sleeping. Sometimes my tummy even gets upset. Like today when I threw up on the bed in the guest room and dad was really mad. But he didn’t yell at me.

I knew he was upset, but he didn’t yell at me. It was the opposite of what it was like when I lived with Jo and the man with the leather belt. He always yelled at me (and worse). Even when I did nothing wrong. Obviously my forever home is a much better place to be. But I wouldn’t know the value of the present without respect for the past. Bring Me That Horizon

I realize this as lately it’s been kind of dreary in my neck of the woods as we wait for winter to evolve into the beauty that is spring. Lately it’s been kind of a reminder that we are currently in transition in a variety of ways. And so I found my rainbow.

Because sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I come close to throwing up my little doggie paws and walking away from the computer. But then I remember you. My people. My cyber family. And I love you. So I thought – if nothing else – it might be fun to relive the last year of blog entries as part of my ongoing journey through life.

I know not everyone hopped on the Wiley train since the beginning. And I also know a lot of what happened in my past influences my future. So why not relive some of that with you, my valuable and priceless reader? Especially at a time when I don’t want to lose contact but also recognize the impact lack of sleep can have on my productivity. Let’s face it (it’s no secret), I was pretty used to all kinds of alone time napping before this whole baby journey started. Now I’m lucky to sneak away at some point or another in the day for my life formerly known as nap time.

So today I begin reliving the past as a way to appreciate the present while looking forward to the future. And let me tell you, it all looks pretty bright right now. Because I’m starting at the beginning. I’m starting where I first knew I had found joy in its purest form. From the ground up, its origin may always be changing. But it’s impact forever remains the same.

Relive Wiley’s Wisdom from the beginning: http://wileyschmidt.com/2012/12/21/joy-from-the-ground-up/

 

Defeat Meets Victory December 9, 2013

I looked into the eyes of evil today. It wasn’t pretty. There I was, face to face, nose to nose, with my arch nemesis otherwise known as Demon Dog. I could feel his breath on my face as his terrifying bark tore through the air. Worst of all, I could see the look in his eyes. It chilled me to my core. (Or maybe that was the frigid -10 degree wind chill).

What do you think?I’m not sure how it happened actually. One minute I was on my lead (which generally separates us by at least 20 feet) and the next I was not. So I seized the opportunity and ran myself right back to that fence. I don’t know what took over me. It’s like I lost all sense of self control. I shamelessly ignored the voices in my heart that cautioned me to stay. Instead I got close. I looked danger in the eye and gave it a good talking to.

It lasted only about as long as it took dad to run barefoot through the snow to grab me and haul me back inside. Boy was I in trouble. Not just because dad and mom were upset with me for putting myself in danger like that, but because I have what I have determined to be a pretty serious problem. And I’m not sure what to do about it.

I realized it tonight as I saw the darkness in those eyes. I got up close and personal with evil and I didn’t like what I saw. Defeat. On both our parts. On his, from whatever made him into such a monster. Everyone has a story and I’ve wanted nothing more than to give him the benefit of the doubt. And on mine, because I realized I don’t think I can save him. Your resident doggie optimist is throwing in the proverbial optimistic towel on this one.

And I don’t like it. Not one bit. I don’t give up – it’s not in my nature. I see the good in all people, places and things. I find the silver lining. But sometimes there is maturity in recognizing there are some things we simply cannot control. Some problems can’t be fixed. I find peace in knowing this itself is the silver lining.

“Defeat is not the worst of failures,” suggested American literary critic and poet George Edward Woodbury. “Not to have tried is the true failure.” I tried. That’s what matters. In this case my defeat can be my victory.

 

No Backspace Button October 20, 2013

I stick my foot in my mouth all the time. Literally. It’s part of my daily grooming routine. A nibble here and there is as second nature to me as scratching an itchy ear with my foot or licking a sore paw. But I’m no dummy.

Keyboard of LifeI know the same can not be said of people, who have the luxury of hands to do a lot of these types of things. Also, I think it would be pretty challenging (albeit funny) to see them try. Literally. I think it would be a struggle.

And yet it apparently happens all the time. Figuratively. As a professional people watcher, I have picked a few things up over the years and this is one of the most interesting to me. People say really stupid things. Whether its something they don’t really mean said in an argument or a random comment out of the blue, it happens all the time. And for as often that I wish I could speak, I glory in my silence when I happen to overhear these moments of ignorance.

That’s just it. Ignorance. And let me tell you, from what I’ve seen of it, ignorance is not bliss. Nor does it excuse the behavior of saying things you don’t mean. I think that’s the challenging part. More often than not, regret follows this note of ignorance. But the moment has passed and the words were said and they cannot be taken back. Words are powerful tools, and when they get used as weapons context gives way to emotion. It makes for a very messy situation.

It brings to mind the wise words of Audrey Hepburn who suggested that “for beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness. And for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

I’ve thought about it and now it’s time to speak up. I might look silly nibbling on my back paw from time to time, but it turns out people do it all the time too. And it hurts. But it isn’t the end of the world either. It happens. A lot. And while that doesn’t excuse anything, it does make us very familiar with the practice of moving on. I’ve always said everything is worthwhile if a lesson is learned. Well, in this case I think the lesson is crystal clear. Think before you speak. Because you can’t take it back. There is no backspace button on the keyboard of life.

 

More or Less August 12, 2013

I don’t think dogs are wired to understand the people concept that less is more. I’m sure I don’t speak for all of us, but I certainly don’t leave spare kibbles in my bowl. Not a single scrap of people food hits the floor that I don’t scoop up. One toy is just never enough. But I suppose this all makes sense because we live with our whole honest selves. We wear our hearts on our proverbial sleeves. And we love with all our hearts.

2013-06-28 21.17.47I was reminded of this today when I heard a familiar phrase on television. “Amateurs built the ark; experts built the Titanic.” I’m not certain of the origin of this philosophical commentary, but I’m drawn to it for obvious reasons. Not only does it challenge us to try something new, to challenge conventional wisdom, but it aligns with another truth I hold dear about judging a book by its cover.

Don’t do it. Easy as that.

It is in contradictions such as these that I find myself pondering things on a more philosophical level. In general more is more to me, yet I believe in extracting joy from the simple things in life. I believe in giving that book with a seemingly boring cover a read simply out of principal. I believe in second chances. These are not declarations of someone who doesn’t understand how less can possibly be more.

Maybe that’s the amateur in me. It’s the same part of me that can’t leave any food and prefers the company of all my entire comfort circle of toys rather than a simple representation. But just because I don’t understand something doesn’t mean I push an idea aside. Quite the opposite, in fact, to the point that I want to learn something from everything. I would much rather build something on faith and understanding than on vanity and luxury anyway.

So perhaps I’ve been going about this whole less is more concept the wrong way. It’s not one way or the highway. When we love with our whole selves, down to our core, whether we have more or less of something doesn’t matter.

 

We Are What We Think May 10, 2013

If joy has four legs and a tail, I would be it. I have a roof over my head, clean water to drink and yummy food to eat. I have more toys, chews, and rawhides than one dog really needs. I spend the majority of my days (awake or asleep) dreaming big.

But all of that doesn’t stop my little doggie mind from running on with questions I wish I could answer about my past. I don’t think its a coincidence that the one I hear the most from strangers and loved ones in my life is the among the ones to which I most wish I had the answer.

A lot of people think I’m a puppy. Even more people think I’m a girl. (I blame my floofy tail). But beyond the commentary, the most common question I’ve heard in my (soon-to-be) five people years of life is by far what kind of dog I am. Oh, how I wish I knew the answer to that question. Care to harbor any guesses?

West Highland Terrier? But where did I get my tail from? Shiba Inu? But my face is fuller and I’m taller than that. Carin Terrier? Possible, but my height is again the wild card gene.Big Thinker

It is my understanding that while genetics in people over time have remained fairly alike, the genes involved in dog breeding have continued to grow more and more complex. What I know for sure is that I am not the product of a breeder. I am the product of a mother who loved me more than life itself and a male scoundrel who didn’t love her enough to stick around. I call it a fortunate accident with which I intend to do as much as paw-sibble. But all the optimism in the world doesn’t answer the question, and alas I am back at square one.

Identity. In a world where hackers and street-walking thieves alike have made identity theft a commonality, what does it even mean anymore. Here’s what I don’t understand about it. Identity is more than the contents of a purse or wallet. It’s more than someone’s name and picture on pieces of plastic. Please don’t misunderstand, I am not condoning identity theft. But I think there is an important lesson to be learned from the concept.

While the impact of identity theft is devastating in a multitude of ways, it doesn’t change the true identity of the victim. The life challenge may even make some fighting hearts stronger, and certainly encourage them to hang on tight to what’s on the inside (as well as the outside) that makes them who they are.

All of this makes my silly little question about what breed I seem pretty small in the grand scheme of things. It really doesn’t matter which breed gave me my pointy ears, fluffy tail and slightly-taller (than most terrier breeds) stature. American existential psychologist Rollo May said it best.

“Joy, rather than happiness, is the goal of life, for joy is the emotion which accompanies our fulfilling our natures as human beings,” he said. “It is based on the experience of one’s identity as a being of worth and dignity.”

I have the basic necessities (and more than a few luxuries) in a full life in a forever home with people who love me. And I love them. I am who I am because of the joy in my heart not because of what breed mixture of DNA my birth parents had. If joy has four unusually tall legs, a fluffy tail and pointy ears, I’m your dog. It’s that simple.

 

More People Have Gone to Hell on Their Buts… December 27, 2012

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I… I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” These very famous words penned by Robert Frost in the 1920s’ “The Road Not Taken” took me on a trip down memory lane today. It started during my afternoon nap…a memory of a warm summer day a few months ago when mom took me on a special walk. I remember I was so excited because we went for a car ride too. Oh, how I love exploring the world! I do my best thinking while I’m out in the great outdoors with the wind in my fur and the world at my paws.IMG_20110504_154627

Padding along that trail, I found myself thinking of Frost and his decision to take the road less travelled. Granted, I do not make many decisions in life (thank goodness I have my parents for that), but I see the value in making the right ones. But therein lies the question…how do you know if a choice is the “right” one?

It seems to me that taking the occasional risk in life would be exciting (albeit challenging). I bear witness to my parents discussing things on such a regular basis, and I’ve got to say – there are a lot of buts in their lives. “I would do that, but…” or “Let’s go there someday, but…”

If I could, I would remind them of a funny thing I heard mom’s grandma say when she was over one time: “more people go to hell on their buts.” All right, I’ll admit it – as the occasional sniffer of canine butts, I found some humor in her commentary. But that kind of ironically philosophical wisdom is hard for me to pass up. What I take from those silly (yet brilliant) words is that it is a waste of life not to take chances, not to take the occasional left turn instead of going the same old “right” way.

It reminds me a bit of the paradox involving a very wise cat. Devised by Erwin Schrodinger in 1935 (not so long after Frost commented on the value of novelty in life), the thought experiment known by physicists as “Schrodinger’s cat” presented a feline who was placed in a box with a vile of poison. In theory the cat could be considered both dead and alive and only through opening the box could one would discover the cat’s fate. Like Frost’s challenge to take the road less travelled, Schrodinger’s experiment challenged scientific thoughts of the time. By implying that the cat is simultaneously dead and alive, the experiment brought into question that the cat cannot actually be both at the same time. Ahead of their time, Frost and Schrodinger alike offered reflections on the value in taking chances.

So let us take that road less travelled. Let us open that box to find out what’s inside. Let us not go to hell on our buts.