Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

No Place I’d Rather Be January 23, 2015

I don’t have this problem very often. While not always the most succinctly, I can usually find a way to describe most things. Yet today I struggle. Because where I come from there are no right words to describe this sound.

It was different than it was in those first few months when dear baby Carter would cry. Though it had a way of tearing at mom’s heart, we all came to understand it was simply his only means of communication then. Over time, he has developed a myriad of other ways to tell us all what’s going on in that curious little mind of his. So now when the crying happens, we know it’s really something bad. Wiles and Carter

Especially when it’s more than your ordinary run-of-the-mill sleepy or hungry cry that does occasionally still happen. This was in a realm all its own. It was piercing. His little face was turning purple. And nothing (and I mean nothing) seemed to help. Except being in the arms of my dear forever mom, but even then the screaming continued.

Until it happened. Mom thought to cue up a familiar song on the music player and when those thoughtful notes entered the room I could almost see Carter’s body relax. He was still pretty upset about who knows what (mom thinks it was gas or something), but the crying was noticeably mitigated when the music started.

“Someday I wish I upon a star, wake up where the clouds are far behind me…where trouble melts like lemon drops high above the chimney top that’s where you’ll find me,” sings Hawaiian musician Isreal Kamakawiwo’Ole in a way only he could. “Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly. And the dreams that you dare to…really do come true.”

It’s our song, mom whispered into Carter’s ear as he snuggled his bright red, tear-soaked face into her chest. And I know it’s going to sound crazy, but I knew in that moment something it is hard to put into words. A mother’s love. From the ground up, it’s about as unconditional as it gets.

I knew it when the crying first started. I knew it even as the crying ramped back up a bit as mom fiddled with the gadget to get the song to play again. I knew it when it quieted down. And when he snuggled his mommy. There is no place either of them would rather be.

 

Game of Direwolves May 23, 2014

It’s kind of like those so-called “smart” phones. Or those newfangled fancy video gaming systems. Or any other kind of technology that discourages actual person-to-person contact. Otherwise known as one of those people things I kind of wish were never invented.

I feel this way about a lot of people technology, including the aforementioned devices. But every now and then I retract my opinion.

Like when there is a fun commercial of that includes a dog on the moving picture window in the living room (otherwise known a TV). Or when a message from one of moms gal pals on her smart phone makes her giggle. Or when dad defeats a level in a video game. All of these things seem to bring the people I love a sense of joy.

As does this show my people have been watching lately. I don’t get it. But, like so many people things in life, I suppose I don’t have to. Because they do. And it seems to bring them joy, or happiness, or at least theatrical enjoyment for the time being.
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Game of Thrones. Apparently it is some sort of phenomenon. Anyone who’s been with me for a while could probably guess what I take from it. It’s probably not what most people take from it, which is something about power and the scary things it can do to people.

Instead I side with the direwolves. I should probably mention my people are not all the way through the series, and therefore I don’t know whether this remains true. But at least from what I can tell in the middle of the second season I know this is my truth.

The direwolves are my heroes. They are strong and fearless and loyal. I think the loyalty might be what I most respect. Above all, they protect their people.

It doesn’t always bring me the sincerest of joy when my people chose to watch them (and the rest of the Game of Thrones cast) on a Friday night, but I was reminded when it happened tonight that it is not about me.

If I am to live as those I respect and idolize, like the direwolves, nothing is really about me. (Gasp, this is tough to digest in some ways). But that’s okay. Because I have so much in my life to be thankful for it’s ridiculous.

Like today when I was outside with my people as they cared for the lawn. Carter was asleep in his room and they were happy in a way they used to be before the little person was in the picture. Mom even took a few minutes of alone time in her hammock in my backyard paradise.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I am not that big a fan of technology. Because (at least in my humble opinion) it takes precious time away from personal interaction.

Like those so-called “smart” phones. Or those newfangled fancy video gaming systems. Or any other kind of technology that discourages actual person-to-person contact. But every now and then these things surprise me with their very own silver lining. Like tonight when all the work was done outside and my people came inside to watch an episode of this “Game of Thrones.”

It was bloody and gory and depressing to me. But those direwolves brought to life for me what I would like to think viewers get from the show. They live and breathe loyalty and life. I’m not sure what else you can ask for when it comes to confusing people television.

 

Daily Dose of Nonsense April 10, 2014

Human communication never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes not saying anything at all says more than words. Other times words themselves bring conversation to a halt. Not to mention the nonverbal communication. And the emotions behind it all.

Me and My BuddySo I have to admit that it has been pretty interesting watching my little person develop a sense of language. Starting before he was born when he would kick my forever mom in the ribs. I think he was saying he wanted out. Then, for the first few months of his life, he has primarily cried to communicate all things.

That stopped today. Well, not exactly. The crying is still in the repertoire, but the vocabulary seems to be expanding. It’s been happening more frequently over a span of the last few weeks. But today I am sure of it. Dear baby Carter was, in his 3-month-old baby way, talking. To mom. He was looking her in the eyes and speaking. To which she would respond and he would respond and so on. Sure, mom’s words were coherent (and his were not), but that’s no matter.

Nonsense. From the ground up, that was my source of joy today. Which got me to thinking how nice it would be to find some sort of incoherent nonsense in all of our days. Some sort of absolute silliness that makes no sense at all other than that it is our daily dose of nonsense.

Suddenly I believed the words of Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein who said that “if people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.”

Because those precious moments made mom cry those same tears I used to lick off her face when she was pregnant. Tears of joy. My favorite kind. I much prefer those tears to the ones little Carter makes sometimes. I’ve even been known to hide under the bed sometimes when he cries.

So today when he chose to use what will one day become his primary source of communication, I too felt a small bit of relief. And pride. And joy. From the ground up, it didn’t matter that it was complete and utter nonsense. It was joy embodied in screeches and babbles. It was another example of the wonder of human communication. It was life.

For a sample of the new little conversationalist: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=573841715697&l=3886000390073174814

 

The Right Questions February 14, 2014

It could be any number of things. A cell phone ringing. An unrelated conversation with someone else. A to-do list that would take longer to complete than there are hours in the day. As a professional observer of people, I am here to confirm there are so many things that distract us from things that really matter on a daily basis.

It wasn’t anything extraordinary for my forever people today. Dad had an especially trying day at that place called work. Mom struggled to console baby Carter through one of his most fussy days yet. But today I watched with love as they pushed both of these things aside. Today they celebrated Valentine’s Day. And in doing so they celebrated each other.

Love. From the ground up, I watched it unfold before my little doggie eyes as dad put together a surf and turf dinner for mom. I saw it in their eyes when they read the cards they got for each other. Yet there was something else, something more, that set the day apart. Something I realized could do a lot of people good.

Questions. Thoughtful directive emotional questions beyond the more common “how was your day” pleasantries. What have I done this past year that you’re most happy with, mom asked. What can I do to be a better husband, dad asked. And conversation abounded, regardless of the happenings of the prior eight hours. Distractions stepped aside in those precious moments and it was just them.

It was just two people falling in love with each other all over again. And it was beautiful. This is not to say they don’t love each other every day of the year. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. But today was different and I think it’s because they put aside everything else and asked the right questions.

You know the ones. They challenge us and build us up and make us think. They are capable of breathing fresh perspective into our relationships. These are the questions we should be asking each other frequently. It might not be as easy as an empty “how are you,” but I think that’s the point. Love, like the love being celebrated around the country today, should never be empty. It should never be distracted. It should be full and overwhelming to the point where no distraction is powerful enough to take away its attention to detail.

“Love is a force more formidable than any other,” suggests American author Barbara de Angelis. “It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.”

Love offers you more joy than any material possession ever could. But you have to reach out and take it. At least from what I can tell, one way to do this is to ask the right questions. Like what is love? It’s powerful. It can transform you. Love is joy. Love is life.

I Love You

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

 

Walk the Walk November 19, 2013

It doesn’t matter whether you have two legs or four. Body language says a lot. I know it is often referred to as nonverbal communication, but my time as a ground-level observer of people has taught me how loudly silence speaks. And if I’m going to talk the talk, I had best walk the walk.

Take today, for example. There I was, soaking in the sun in my (albeit chilly) backyard paradise when my lead (the one that functions primarily as a deterrent to my own canine version of attention deficit disorder) snapped.

It wasn’t my doing – the material simply died of old age. And in those few seconds the world seemed to come to a complete halt around me. My heart raced. This was my moment. If I wanted, I could take off. Explore the world. I could find my way back, right? Body language

That’s when it happened. I closed my eyes for a second and relived the beautiful exchange between my forever people a few days ago when dad finally felt the little person kicking. “Hey there little guy,” he said to mom’s tummy, “I can’t wait to meet you.” Life. From the ground up, it was embodied in the body language of that moment. From the look on their faces to that little person kicking away, so much was said with no words at all.

Body language has been speaking up around here lately. So today I decided to join the conversation. I took a stand today, in doing what I hope made a very important point to my people. They are my people and I never want to risk losing them for something as silly as an adventure outside my backyard paradise.

Instead, I wandered myself to the back door like nothing had happened, business as usual. Mom wasn’t home from that place called work yet, but dad was. And when he saw me standing there, severed from my lead and patiently waiting to be let back into my forever home, it happened again. Joy. From the ground up, I felt it coming from my forever dad. And the best part was he didn’t have to say a word.

 

No Words November 14, 2013

I don’t have a choice. All I get is my eyes, my tail, and the occasional strategic placement of my head or paws. Any other methods of communication are hard to come by when you have four legs. So I have to admit, days like today take a toll on my emotions.

We canines may not be able to see the entirety of the color spectrum, but I know with certainty that I saw my fair share of blue today. Mom is feeling blue, which is apparently a people term used to explain her emotionally cloudy forecast. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that little person inside her is somehow bringing down her morale. No Words

Because she’s been talking a whole lot about worry. She’s worried about the baby’s health. And being a good parent. And labor. And the money. Especially the money. Last I checked, money is green so I don’t know how it could be making her feel so blue. I stand, sit or lay idly by, all-the-while wishing there would be something – anything – I could say to make it better.

Then I hear dad say exactly what I would be saying and suddenly I don’t mind being silent. He tells her to calm down. Relax. Everything will work out. These are the things I would be telling her, too, if I could. But this is not the first time (and certainly won’t be the last) that there are no words. As I observed from dad’s attempt, it’s sometimes better not to say anything than to complicate the situation by throwing words in the mix. Sometimes a person just needs a hug.

I don’t have a choice. All I have is my eyes, my tail, and the strategic placement of my head or paws to communicate. And maybe that’s not so bad after all. Because as much words can help, they can also complicate things. Especially when it’s more a matter of faith than anything else. Faith takes no words. Faith is simply believing in the power that is contained in something so much more than words.

So tonight I keep quiet and instead silently pray for resolutions to come to some of mom’s worries. That peace come to her overwhelmed heart. But I can’t pray with my eyes, tail and paws any more than I can pray with words. Instead tonight I pray with my heart. “Prayer is not asking,” Mahatma Gandhi reflected, “It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of  one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”