Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Dreams Are Dreams September 13, 2013

Some things just aren’t meant to be. It would take a miracle (for example) for me to fly. Or ride a roller coaster. Or walk on the moon. Just because all of these things happen frequently in my daydreams doesn’t make them real.

But let’s say (just for a minute) things that happen in our dreams really do come true. I could finally catch those elusive squirrels that taunt me in the backyard. I could whine my doggie guts out on The Whizzer at Six Flags (yes, the starter coaster – don’t judge). And perhaps one day us dogs will walk on the moon. How amazing would all of this be? Snarky Sparky

I think there’s general misconception about these things in our society. We have our dreamers who think anything is possible, we have our realists who keep the dreamers grounded, and we have our pessimists who don’t bother thinking outside the box. I (obviously) fall into the first category, but I have characters in my life who I know have given up on their dreams. They may not say so, or even admit it to themselves, but they’ve stopped reaching for those goals. And it breaks my heart.

I’ve said it before, but it seems even more relevant now. The journey can be half as much (if not more) fun as the destination if we only let it be. It’s one thing to drive across America to get from A to B. It’s something totally different to stop and see the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Kansas on your way to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. To take the scenic route through Minnesota instead of the highways. To hike through the mountains of Tennessee rather than drive. These are the moments that make a journey worth living.

There are two ways to look at things, and I think this dog Frankenstein is the perfect demonstration of both.

To our realists, it appears the prize is just out of reach. To our pessimists, the goal is simply unattainable. But to our optimists, our dreamers, it looks like he is (at the very least) having fun making his dreams come true no matter how stubborn and challenging they may be.

I think we can all take a lesson from Frankenstein. It’s one thing to respect that some things just aren’t meant to be. Let’s face it: the chances of me ever being able to fly, ride a roller coaster or walk on the moon are pretty slim. But dreams are dreams and I will still have fun trying.

 

I Believe I Can Fly June 26, 2013

It’s a sight to be seen. Sometimes when I see other dogs doing it I laugh a little inside. But it doesn’t change the pure unadulterated truth. We canines sure do love sticking our heads out the windows of cars. It doesn’t what we look like, generally with our eyes all squinty, fur all slicked back, and ears out like wings. We are flying high and nothing can get us down.

And as we are (in my neck of the woods) in the heat of a time of year when it is best for dogs to avoid car rides altogether, I find myself reflective on some of my best car ride moments. I’ve had so many its hard to choose just one, but the heat of the day today reminded me of a day at about the same time of year two summers ago.

Laughter so incredibly gut-wrenching it brought my mom to tears. That, my friends, is what I most vividly remember about one of the most memorable car rides of my little doggie life. My aunt Morgan had just recently become the proud owner of a Volkswagen convertible, which she was committed to keeping clean and spotless inside and out. She wasn’t necessarily thrilled when my mom pleaded to bring me along on whatever summer adventure they were about to embark upon, but she ultimately agreed to let me tag along. (I gave her “the look” – you know the one – and she couldn’t say no). I Believe

I don’t remember too many details about the adventures that unfolded other than the car ride to get there. It was yet another instance of life’s journeys being more exciting than the destinations. There I was, on my first ride in a convertible with its top down, and my mom and her sister could not stop laughing. Not just giggling. This was full-fledged, gut-busting, face-turning-purple, almost-peeing-your-pants laughter. I had no idea what they were laughing so hard about, but it didn’t matter. I was in car ride heaven.

I had more wind in my fur than ever before, my eyes were certainly not even open because of the squinting, and my ears were slicked back against my head. In that moment, I could fly. In the soundtrack of a dog’s life, R. Kelly’s lyrics to “I Believe I Could Fly” were blaring in my head. In that moment felt more free than I ever had before. (Which is ironic as I know some of my former pals from the streets would consider my station in life as a family pet to be restrictive and undesirable. Not for me.) In that moment, I felt free because I felt safe and loved and no one could take that away from me. Not to mention all that laughter in the car made my heart smile.

All right, all right, I will admit it. (I may be cute but I’m not stupid). I’m 99.99% certain that they were laughing at me, because (let’s face it) I know I looked absolutely ridiculous. It is a sight to be seen, after all, when us dogs stick our heads out car windows. But to us it doesn’t what we look like, generally with our eyes all squinty, fur all slicked back, and ears out like wings. We are flying high and nothing can get us down.

 

Progress Is Perfection May 26, 2013

Like so many things, words are what we make them. And in my humble opinion, there are far too many nouns in this world. Too many words that mean something instead of do something. That changes today.

If a noun is lazy, breathe life into it. Make it a verb. Take the word journey, for example. Whether it was career-related, a physical trip somewhere, or purely emotion, we’ve all been on a number of journeys in life. How did the paths lead? What do you remember? What was the destination? Have you reached it yet?

Progress is PerfectionMerriam-Webster and Bing both cite “journey” first as a noun and then as a verb. To me, it should be the other way around. We ought journey onward rather than simply be on a journey. Sure, it might sound like semantics to some, but let me explain.

The progress along the way, the scenery if you will, is often the highlight of the journey itself. And in a world encompassed by the constant pressure-cooker of perfection, progress is a pretty important part of every journey. Yet commercials showcasing the next revolutionary skincare regime, magazines with their airbrushed models, and high standards at school, work, and even at play, I’d say perfection is at a premium in modern society.

Meanwhile, great transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson challenged that “a man is what he thinks about all day long.” Well then, it’s no wonder to me why progress has become synonymous with failure to so many in today’s world of bigger, better, brighter and faster. Instead, we need to recognize progress rather than focusing so much on destination perfection. We may as well give up on perfection without first finding joy in progress.

“Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection,” Lebanese-American writer and poet Khalil Gabrin said. Rightly so, advancing is the verb and perfection is the noun synonymous with the destination at the end of a long journey.

Like I said, words are what we make them. And (at least to me) there are far too many words that mean something instead of do something. That changes today. If a noun in your life is being lazy, breathe life into it. Make it a verb. Don’t simply go on a journey. Journey through life with courage enough to do more than seek happiness, joy, and fulfillment. Don’t seek these things. Seek progress by instead being these things. By being happiness, joy, and fulfillment and you’ve already reached your destination.