Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Key to the Future May 24, 2014

It’s Memorial Day weekend around here. Which means a few things for me. First (and foremost) it means we pause to recognize the heroes who have put their own lives aside to serve and protect the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis. Selfishly, I think my most favorite thing about these freedoms might be the extra day away from work my beloved forever people get to observe the holiday.

Because this means my people are home together for three whole days. This has always been a luxury due to the necessity of that stuff called money and its direct relationship to that place called work. Sure, mom has been home a little more frequently than before because of her new job, but my favorite is the time when we are all together. Like the family we are.In the yard

Being part of this family for almost four years now, I’ve come to expect certain things on this weekend. Tradition. From the ground up, it took over my day today. My people spent the day planting as they always do around this same Saturday every year. And so my backyard paradise has been restored. There are flowers and bird feeders and a garden and the whole bit of it makes my people so happy. Therefore I am happy.

As I found myself a place in the shade to observe the action this afternoon, it occurred to me how blessed I am to have such a home with a yard and all that space to run through and enjoy. More than that, I thought of this being the third time I’ve observed this day. As I thought back through the todays past my heart filled with more joy.

That’s the thing about memories. While (yes) they are capable of doing some very bad things to joy sometimes, they become better with age.

“Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future,” suggested Dutch thinker Corrie Ten Boom. I feel these words came to life for me today as I watched Memorial Day tradition unfold around me. So, as I usually do, I embraced the past right along with the present on my journey to the future.

 

Don’t Worry, Be Happy June 18, 2013

It’s kind of like hitting your hind legs on the footboard jumping up on the bed. Or getting your leash wrapped around the tree in the backyard when the sky is crying. Or being left at home alone for the majority of a weekend day.

Each of these things can make me feel emotionally handicapped in the most bizarre way. I know everything will be all right – the shooting pain in my hind legs is sure to pass, my fur will dry from the rain, and my parents will return from their so-called errands – but there is something unsettling about when these bumps in the road happen.

As I soaked up some sun in my backyard this afternoon, I questioned why these occasional stumbles (physical or otherwise) have such a power to bring down my otherwise optimistic spirit. Stuff happens. Life moves on. Or does it? I remember thinking my life was over when I first was separated from my mom and brothers. And again when I lost Rusty to doggie heaven. And again when that family returned me to the humane society citing my alleged behavioral problems.

SimplifySuddenly it made sense to me. These stumbling blocks seem to have a way of bringing my past into my present. At the root of all my stumbles is the same useless emotion: worry. I know it’s not a four-letter word in people language but it is in my world. Worry is the handicap!

Yet I worry my parents got a higher bed so I wouldn’t jump on it anymore. (Don’t they like our cuddle time?) I worry maybe my forever parents will take a book from previous chapters of my life and forget about me outside, leaving me in the rain to shiver and fend for myself. (Don’t they love me anymore?) I worry that maybe they’ll never come back from wherever they go when they run errands. (Will anyone else ever love me like they do?)

Worry, worry, worry. It’s a nasty little habit for a practicing optimist to conquer. It’s one I don’t frequently even address out of sheer embarrassment that people won’t take me (and my joy) seriously if I admit to my weaknesses. But there is strength in admitting to our shortcomings, not only in the truth of the admission itself but in what it means for the future. It’s easy to push aside being a worrier. To hide it away in a place in my heart I don’t want anyone to know about.

But I’ve never been one to take the easy road, especially in matters of the heart. So worry be gone. I cast you away like the bad habit you are. Starting today, I will make an effort to see life’s stumbling blocks not as triggers for worry. “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow,” Dutch Christian activist Corrie Ten Boom once said. “It empties today of its strength.” I’d much rather seek strength in knowing everything will be all right than add any unnecessary sorrow to my days.