Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Fifty Shades of Grey March 25, 2014

Please excuse my French. The whole cliché about us canines being colorblind? It’s bullshit. It’s simply not true. It is true that we are limited in terms of the color spectrum. We only see a fraction of the colors humans see. But we do see color. We see differences in color. And today I saw the value of life in a world that isn’t black and white.Sunshine

It occurred to me as I sat patiently by mom’s feet as she rocked baby Carter to sleep. It was dark in the room, but I wouldn’t call it black. I would call it grey. Grey, like one of those in between colors open for interpretation. Grey, like a color that means something instead of nothing. Grey. From the ground up, it looks pretty nice to me.

Yet it seems to be one of those colors that is frequently misunderstood. It’s one of those dreary colors that brings people down instead of lifting them up. It’s a symbol of uncertainty. Of confusion. Of feeling lost.

Fortunately it’s also one of the colors I see. Because (like most things) that whole cliché about canines being colorblind is only as true as we let it be. It was another grey and frigid winter day in Wisconsin today. And it hit some people pretty hard. Because I speak for a lot of the two-legged philosophers in my life when I say they have had had enough grey. They just want it to be colorful again.

Not only can we canines see more color than we are given credit for, but we interpret color in everything around us. And, at least according to me, the colors of life are open for interpretation by anyone on any given day. A few days ago it rained. But today I found it. My rainbow. Today, as I sat in my own version of grey, I was reminded life is not black and white. It’s not about waiting for something good or bad to happen. Instead we should make it happen. Instead we should make our own rainbow. Even if it is a little grey every now and then.

 

Turn On The Light October 29, 2013

It’s like an on/off switch. It happens in a fraction of a second. The blink of an eye. And it fascinates me. Except when there’s crying involved. Then I’m not sure what to do with myself.

I spent some time with baby Alexis again tonight and I am stunned by the emotional roller coaster she wears on her adorable little face. First she’s smiling her contagious toothless grin then bam! The grin morphs into a grimace, but only for a millisecond. Then she’s happy again. It’s exhausting for me as an observer who invests a good deal in bringing joy from the ground up into the lives of others.

Happiness begets HappinessAs disturbing as it may be to observe, it made me wonder what happens along one’s life journey that keeps this from being something common in adults. Sure, I’ve seen adults go from happy to sad pretty instantaneously. (Let’s face it, bad things happen to good people all the time). But it’s the second part of the equation that interests me. That’s the part that seems to be blocked by some sort of adult-only emotional hurdle. How do you efficiently talk yourself back to the happy place?

It happens in an instant for Alexis. I think life too frequently gets in the way of that being possible for adults. But I did observe something else about this emotional dichotomy. When my mom smiled back at her, the switch to the dark side seemed to happen less frequently (if at all). Instead, there they were smiling at each other like a couple of ninnies. Like somehow the reciprocation of happiness inverted the cycle somehow.

There’s a thought. The concept is one that mirrors the idea of Greek philosopher Sophocles, who suggested “kindness begets kindness.” Smiles beget smiles. Joy begets joy. I know it’s probably something different for everyone. But I think that little person who once switch back and forth between sad and happy so frequently is still inside us all. We just have to reprogram our hearts to cooperate better with our minds to recognize the triggers. We’ve got to find our own switch.

Because life turns the lights out on us every now and then. It can happen in a fraction of a second. In the blink of an eye, everything can change. And change can be scary. That is, unless you find a way to turn that light back on.