Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

My American Dream July 7, 2014

It probably doesn’t look like anything you would think. Certainly it’s not nearly as shiny or adventurous or out of the ordinary as you might imagine. But it’s mine and I think it’s pretty great. The American Dream. From the ground up, it’s not that unlike joy. I know it looks different to different people, so today I pause to reflect on an article I read about a misconception regarding this otherwise innocent thing. Proud to be an American

Someone who shall remain unnamed and unreferenced (purely out of principal) put out an article in recent days that says it takes an average of $130,000 to live what is conceived as the American Dream. I’m not going to tell you the particulars as it pertains to my beloved family other than that is no where near reality for us.

Yet today as mom spent some time working at home over lunch I couldn’t help but pause to reflect on the beauty of the moment. There we were, together in my backyard paradise, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine. There we were, in the moment listening as a wide variety of songbirds chirped us a song. There we were as baby Carter napped peacefully inside my beloved forever home. And in that moment I felt like the richest little mutt of a doggie known to man.

“For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day;” suggested ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, “and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy.”

I know this to be truth in life. While there are many who could argue we live frugally and on the cheap, I would tell them I’m the richest doggie I know. I’m not ashamed to say it either. It doesn’t come encased in anything special. It’s not worth anything to anyone other than me. And I like it that way. Because to me, that is how joy (from the ground up) should look. I know it’s not anything like what you would think. It’s nothing special or shiny or adventurous like you might imagine. But to me it’s pretty great.

 

A Snow Globe Life December 17, 2013

At first I thought for sure it was the snowflakes. It snowed again yesterday and I found myself in awe of the glittery magic all around me. It was like being in a snow globe. The flakes fell from the sky so peacefully. Once they lay to rest, they create a blanket of sparkling diamonds in my backyard paradise. So I thought maybe if I could collect anything in the world it would be snowflakes.

But today as the snow melted ever so slightly I realized how silly that would be. There are no lasting remnants of the snow after it’s gone. By summertime it’s like it never even existed. That is, until winter rolls around again and brings with it the frozen particles of joy.

So maybe if I could collect anything, I would collect toys. In all of their various shapes, colors and sizes, they are vessels of happiness for me. And, as demonstrated by my impressive skills in the games of pickle in the middle and tug of war, they often bring happiness to my people as well. I refer to my current collection as my comfort circle, which contains about a dozen different characters. But that’s enough to overflow an entire basket in the living room. Maybe that’s enough. Maybe I don’t need more.

ContentmentMaybe I don’t need more. This is not to say anything against collections of things, but I realized today there is strength in accepting what we have been blessed with in life. In being grateful for it. Because ultimately it’s not the things we collect that matter. It’s the details. It’s the moments.

As breathtaking as a fresh snow globe perspective can be, it’s not so much the snowflakes as the joy they bring that I hold close to my heart. Its the moments I share with mom and dad playing around in the aftermath of a big snowstorm. In the extra attention I get when we come inside from playing together and I need to get all cleaned off. In the cuddles we enjoy together to warm up.

The same goes for the toys. It’s not so much about having dozens of characters in my comfort circle as it is about making the moments with the ones I have mean something. And whether it’s just me and Mrs. Prickles, or my people are involved, I am blessed.

Perhaps that’s the bigger lesson I was to take from my observation of my snow globe life yesterday. Sure, the snowflakes are a sight to be seen. And my toys are deeply loved and appreciated. If I could collect anything, it wouldn’t be these things. It would be moments. Because they have something very important in common. Joy. From the ground up, it’s not the things that bring the joy. It’s in the moments joy is present that we truly live.

 

Get Rich Quick November 29, 2013

Shopping isn’t for me. I’ve tried it a few times when mom was kind enough to let me accompany her to dog-friendly stores and farmer’s markets and pet fairs. While I very much enjoyed the company (and the attention I inevitably draw at these sorts of places), the actual concept of shopping doesn’t trip my proverbial trigger.

I enjoy new toys and treats and fresh bags of dog food as much as the next canine. But the actual process of hunting for it? Not so much. I get far too distracted by the people. So it sounds like I would have been very distracted today, on what my people call Black Friday. I’ve never cared much for black (also known as the color of darkness, sadness and death) and I can’t say I care much for this day either.

Talking MoneyYesterday people all over the country celebrated. They counted their blessings. They cherished time with their loved ones. Then as early as last night, all of that was abandoned for shopping. It doesn’t make any sense to me that people go out and spend so much money on things (that really are just things) so soon after celebrating what they already have. Especially when those little green bills known as money have the power to make people so blue.

This is why I chose to invest differently. Not in things, but in people. My biggest fears were realized in a doggie nightmare I had last night when suddenly, for no rational reason, my people were gone. It was just me, back in a cage, somewhere I didn’t recognize. No other cages surrounded me. I was completely alone. Thank heavens mom woke me up from that particular nightmare. Reality never looked so beautiful.

I know I have it pretty good. I am blessed, as my mom would say. But I know why I’m so rich with blessings – my fortune is not in those little green bills or in the Christmas presents that (at the very least) do seem to bring as much joy to the giver as the receiver. No sir. My fortune is in the people who make my life special. You can go shopping for a lot of things, but you can’t shop for those people. For friends. Or family. These are the true riches in my little doggie life.

 

Such A Loney Word August 4, 2013

I think it’s called nesting. And apparently it’s normal. But I have to admit, the way my people are acting this weekend has thrown me for a loop. It reminds me of that Saturday a couple of months ago when they moved around all the furniture. Except now instead of moving things around, they can’t stop talking about all this new stuff.

Crib, changing table, pack and play…I’ve never heard of any of these things before recently. Yet I’ve managed to gather that a crib is like my doggie bed, changing table is like outside, and a pack and play sounds like a place I can’t wait to investigate. Not to mention the conversations about all of these things seem to get mom and dad pretty excited. I can hear it in their voices, see it in their eyes and even feel it in their heartbeats. They are thrilled, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it all. Dont Worry, Be Happy

So I didn’t care much for the direction of the conversation today when they got back from a place called Babies ‘R Us. All of the excitement had been replaced with fear and apprehension. About being good parents. About giving the baby everything. About money. Whether our forever home is big enough. They weren’t exactly fighting, but the conversation still made me uncomfortable.

As usual, I wished I could interrupt to remind them of how blessed we are to have each other. To have a roof over our heads. To be alive.

They got there on their own eventually but it felt like it took forever. It’s all relative, dad said. The more you make, the more you pay for things. It goes both ways. And jealousy never does anyone any good. It’s a very lonely word that doesn’t merit any emotional energy. Not when we’re blessed with so much already.

“It is not love that is blind, but jealousy,” British novelist and poet Lawrence Durrell suggested. Well, fortunately for all of us the cloud of blindness has been lifted as the conversation returned to things like cribs, changing tables and pack and plays. I guess it’s called nesting. And (even though it all sounds a bit like a foreign language to me right now) it’s music to my little doggie ears.

 

The Family Fortune May 20, 2013

It was an absolutely beautiful day in Wisconsin today. The sun was shining its warmth on us and there was a solid breeze from the south to keep things feeling toasty. Literally. Today brought a warmth to the soul that breeds joy from the heart. That is, until I realized how awful a hand of weather was being dealt a few states to our south.

Tornadoes tore through Kansas and Oklahoma today, leaving whole neighborhoods in their wake. The latest reports are confirming casualties at an elementary school in Oklahoma City. Precious little people who were going about their day learning their multiplication tables and how to write haiku poetry. Gone. Lives are changed forever, ripped apart by mother nature. All of this on a day that seemed pretty close to perfect in my little part of the world.

I generally make a point of avoiding disturbing news, but today I find value in a moment’s paws to reflect. The physical devastation left behind by these tornadoes is apparent, but what’s less visible is the emotional wounds that have yet to seem real to those affected. Houses can be rebuilt, streets reconstructed, building facades altered, but you can’t bring back the precious lives lost today. This is where real devastation resides.

While I don’t condone living in constant fear of the unknown, my reflections today have led me to count my blessings. Among them are many valuables that can be easily replaced, as well as two that are absolutely priceless to me. My forever mom and dad. My family. Losing one of them would be like trying to function without the ability to see or hear or taste. I know when a sense is lost, the others generally pick up the slack, but I don’t think my increased love for the one left behind would ever be enough. Together they are ultimately more special to me than everything we have, including the roof over our heads and the endless supply of dog food in my doggie bowl.

The tally of precious lives lost today has not even been finalized yet. And it goes without saying that while the sun was shining in Wisconsin today, a cloud of grief remains. Today was not such a beautiful day for a lot of people. And no insurance policy can bring them back. But I know in my little doggie heart those lost will live on through their loved ones. I remembered this today as I counted my blessings, and among them was a fortune not made up of dollars and cents. My family is my fortune. No tornado can take that away.

Heavenly Reflections