Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Color Blue December 2, 2013

There is usually crying. And some yelling. And some choice words. It’s not a pleasant thing to witness, and yet I am at the mercy of those engaged it the middle of it all. I have no choice but to stand by and observe. Arguments.

They doesn’t happen often in the Schmidt home, but when they do they definitely fall into a category of conversations I would prefer to never have heard. Yet I remain by both mom and dad (a tricky place to be in such situations), steadfast and true. I love them both with equal halves of my heart and never take sides.Listen Here

Except for once. I remember because it was a dreary early winter day like today a few years ago. The grey mood of the sky was directly reflective of the emotional context of my forever family. Mom had been blue for a while. And not blue like the color. She was sad. I think I knew it before dad because us canines have a way of sensing these things. She was tired a lot. She wasn’t as responsive to my attempts to engage in chase or pickle in the middle. It seems that place called work was among the things that had worn her down into a shell-like version of herself.

So I sided with dad the day he confronted her about it. I hated seeing her that way, and she needed to hear everything he had to say. It wasn’t comfortable for any of us, yet I know that was a day we will not soon forget. It will stick with us for all of the right reasons and none of the wrong. And it wasn’t fun.

Crying, yelling and choice words were among the key players. I remember wishing I could be somewhere (anywhere) else but in that room. But then I remember the color blue mom was then and see how happy she is now and I realize how important those conversations can be.

“The character of a man is known from his conversations,” suggested Ancient Greek dramatist Menander. In that case, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that sometimes the toughest conversations are the most important ones to have. They show love, not hate. They show concern, not contempt. And ultimately they lead to joy, even if it doesn’t seem that way in the moment.

 

How Are You Really? July 30, 2013

I’m not proud to admit this but I sent Mrs. Prickles to the emergency room recently.

One minute I was nursing on her as usual, and the next minute I couldn’t keep myself from tearing the little white fluff balls out of her. Both are instinctual behaviors for me, yet I was surprised to find myself enjoying the task of removing fluff balls. Several of the other members who make up my comfort circle have similar holes in them that I leave alone. So why now did I find myself losing control?

Truth be told, I don’t know what happened. And I think that happens sometimes. We get so caught up in something it kind of takes over our motor functions until someone brings us back to reality. I didn’t want to hurt Mrs. Prickles. I didn’t mean to. But I did.

 

It makes me stop and think about how I see people interacting with one another. With everything going on in people’s lives it can be so easy to get caught up in things and not pay attention to what is happening around you. It brings to mind a commonplace people conversation I have overheard one too many times. Person one asks person two how they are. Person two responds with a generally generic answer like super, swell, good or (on occasion) terrible. Person two then turns the question back to person one. How are you? Sometimes the conversation continues, sometimes not.Thinking of You

What bothers me about this interaction is that it always seems to me to be on autopilot. Just like me and Mrs. Prickles. The people are (more often than not) just having the conversation to be polite and really neither person cares all that much about how the other person is doing. Not really. So why do we ask the question?

Why did I start uncontrollably taking fluff balls out of one of my favorite toys? It’s in our nature. Something in my nature (that I don’t particularly care to embrace or understand) encouraged me to rip Mrs. Prickles (who I happen to love) to pieces. Something in people nature makes them feel the need to start conversations in which their heart isn’t invested.

And I’m not saying these are bad things. Without our nature we wouldn’t be who we are, after all. But I am in the business of challenging what’s easy. Mrs. Prickles is all fixed now, no thanks to me. (I’m going to do what I can to keep it that way). I have, after all, also seen the polite “how are you” question develop into much deeper people conversations. So maybe its worth it to take life off autopilot every once in a while.