Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Once In A Lullaby November 18, 2014

I’ve noticed it since the beginning. And I’m sure it’s probably nothing special or unique to babies. But since day one I’ve observed that my dear baby Carter has a profoundly noticeable appreciation for music. When he was really tiny, mom used to hum to him or rock him in his room with his favorite CD of soothing music. It has a way of calming him pretty well most of the time.

Ever since he started pulling his little self up on things to stand, he does this little jig when a song he likes or recognizes comes on the television or radio. And now that he’s started toddling around, I can’t wait to see what comes next.How you doin?

So I suppose I shouldn’t necessarily have been surprised when it happened this morning. Magic. From the ground up, it has a way of coming to life when the right song comes into the walls of our forever home. Today it happened in the spirited words of a familiar and beloved song.

“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.”

My forever mom has always loved this song, and I know she’s heard it since dear Carter was born, but something happened today that could only be described as an unforgettable moment. The first few chords hit the air and she swooped him up out of his highchair and they danced together like no one was watching. She snuggled him and kissed his chubby little cheeks and told him she loved him and wants him to always remember this as their song. And she cried. A lot.

While I never like to see her cry, I know these were good tears. Healing tears. Loving tears. Heck, if I could I would have been crying right along with her. Because it was really something special between a mother and her son.

It’s not a moment he’ll remember, no matter how much he may grow to appreciate music in his lifetime. But it was special to mom. And it was special to me.

All I could do in that moment was soak it up and think to myself “what a wonderful world.”

 

For A Moment May 7, 2014

It’s probably not the coolest thing for a little boy to do. I’m sure playing baseball or driving imaginary cars is way more trendy. But he’s way too young for that yet anyway. So instead we danced. And it was another one of those special moments you wish you could somehow bottle up for a rainy day. Another Moment that Happened Today

Every other time I can remember the dancing, it was mom who started it. “Wiley, up” is the signal that its about to start. And this time it was dad saying it instead of mom. I guess it made sense since mom was holding baby Carter. So there we were – the four of us – dancing together like a bunch of goofs. The song choice this time around was 100 years by “Five for Fighting,” which is an important detail because of what happened next.

Moments after the scene came together, mom paused to go grab her camera phone in an attempt to capture the moment. It’s probably pretty hard to believe, but the picture taking has gotten way more frequent since my little person came into the world. I’m talking hundreds and hundreds of pictures, mostly of Carter, with the occasional ones of me or other family members scattered in the mix. Sometimes I wonder about this, since in a dog’s world you live the moment. You don’t take pictures of it. Not to mention sometimes she gets so caught up taking the picture to remember the moment that she misses the moment itself.

Clearly I’m not alone in my opinion, because in that moment mom got scolded. “Put the phone down and enjoy the now,” dad said. If I could have I would have given him a high paw. But alas I was in his arms so this was impossible. Instead I (happily) stayed where I was and dancing like ninnies resumed without further incident.

I found the whole thing ironic given the point of the song is to find joy in the moment regardless of what phase of life your living. The point is you’re in the moment. And you’re living. So today there is no picture. At least not of the dancing. In the moment, that is what mattered. And we don’t need proof. It will live on forever in our hearts. Maybe that’s better anyway, since I don’t know how cool dancing is in the confusing world of little people.

 

 

All I Want for Christmas December 11, 2013

It’s pretty ridiculous. I might even get in trouble with mom for sharing the details. But it brings me joy and, as I am in the business of sharing joy, I can no longer keep this particular holiday ritual a secret.

Every time Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” comes on the radio is go time. It’s like a trigger for silliness. There is dancing (the kind that doesn’t particularly follow the beat) and galloping around the house. And joy. Lots of joy. It doesn’t matter where they are or who they are with, because it’s a family tradition. It’s as simple as that.All I Want

Apparently it started in my mom’s family a few years back when her dad was still alive. He had about as much rhythm as a broom but that didn’t stop him from joining in the fun. It’s my understanding he even took the lead every now and then.

It’s a memory that seems to bring about bittersweet emotions for my mom at least once during the holiday season. I know she misses him. He passed away suddenly in June 2009 and she never got to say goodbye. And now she grieves the loss in knowing our future little person will never know his grandpa.

The circle of life is funny that way – it finds ways to help us remember things we would sometimes rather push aside. And in this case grief is brought to life in joy, which is especially perplexing. But I suppose that makes sense because loss itself is a confusing thing. It isn’t easy regardless of how it happens. And everyone deals with it differently. But regardless of the circumstances, it evolves.

“Grief is in two parts,” suggested American writer Anne Roiphe. “The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.”

The second is the remaking of life. I think that’s what happens every time that song comes on the radio. A little part of what was broken is mended. And we all are reminded to cherish the most important gift we have – each other. I’m with Mariah on this one. All I want for Christmas is my people. So I say bring on the silliness. Bring on the dancing and stomping and galloping around the house. Bring on the joy. Because sometimes there is no better way to grieve than to live.

 

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching January 26, 2013

I may not know the waltz, the fox trot or the samba, but I sure can dance. My mom and I have this (semi-secret) routine that (almost never) involves anyone but us.

“Up, Wiley,” is my signal the dance is about to start. And the next thing I know, I’m up in my mom’s arms and we are swaying together to anything from Norah Jones to Bob Dylan. We truly are dancing like no one’s watching. And I love it. For those three or four minutes, all is well in the world. My mom is happy, I’m happy, and (as a believer in the contagion that is happiness) I could not ask for anything better than that.

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Up, down, or sideways, music moves me. Lyrics lull me into happier places, mourn with me in darker places, and inspire me to be better, write better, and live better. From Bette Midler to Phillip Phillips, words find their prophetically poetic home amidst the strum of guitar chords and harmonious tinkling of piano keys.

I find moments of solace in these things. My journey within begins here.

“I fall into a sacred rage to escape
the hells of the world made of puppets and fake
death wont be too far now the seeds in my heart start to awake
so all I can do is be the man that the Lord brought me to today
hold on to your life by love…”

Thank you Phillip Phillips for again bringing to lyrical life the ideas of Sarah Ban Breathnach, who speaks of the basic tools of holding on to life’s authenticity in Simple Abundance: “You need enough breathing space to allow your heart to ponder what is precious,” she writes. “Or perhaps you can let your imagination soar into the twilight where dreams first dwell.”

That is what music does for me, literally and figuratively. It offers me those precious moments with my mom dancing like a ninny with me all over the kitchen. And it offers me hope in harmony best illustrated in LeAnn Womack’s “I Hope You Dance.”

“I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake
But it’s worth making
Don’t let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Reconsider
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance.”

She took the words right out of my little doggie mouth.