Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

More People Have Gone to Hell on Their Buts… December 27, 2012

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I… I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” These very famous words penned by Robert Frost in the 1920s’ “The Road Not Taken” took me on a trip down memory lane today. It started during my afternoon nap…a memory of a warm summer day a few months ago when mom took me on a special walk. I remember I was so excited because we went for a car ride too. Oh, how I love exploring the world! I do my best thinking while I’m out in the great outdoors with the wind in my fur and the world at my paws.IMG_20110504_154627

Padding along that trail, I found myself thinking of Frost and his decision to take the road less travelled. Granted, I do not make many decisions in life (thank goodness I have my parents for that), but I see the value in making the right ones. But therein lies the question…how do you know if a choice is the “right” one?

It seems to me that taking the occasional risk in life would be exciting (albeit challenging). I bear witness to my parents discussing things on such a regular basis, and I’ve got to say – there are a lot of buts in their lives. “I would do that, but…” or “Let’s go there someday, but…”

If I could, I would remind them of a funny thing I heard mom’s grandma say when she was over one time: “more people go to hell on their buts.” All right, I’ll admit it – as the occasional sniffer of canine butts, I found some humor in her commentary. But that kind of ironically philosophical wisdom is hard for me to pass up. What I take from those silly (yet brilliant) words is that it is a waste of life not to take chances, not to take the occasional left turn instead of going the same old “right” way.

It reminds me a bit of the paradox involving a very wise cat. Devised by Erwin Schrodinger in 1935 (not so long after Frost commented on the value of novelty in life), the thought experiment known by physicists as “Schrodinger’s cat” presented a feline who was placed in a box with a vile of poison. In theory the cat could be considered both dead and alive and only through opening the box could one would discover the cat’s fate. Like Frost’s challenge to take the road less travelled, Schrodinger’s experiment challenged scientific thoughts of the time. By implying that the cat is simultaneously dead and alive, the experiment brought into question that the cat cannot actually be both at the same time. Ahead of their time, Frost and Schrodinger alike offered reflections on the value in taking chances.

So let us take that road less travelled. Let us open that box to find out what’s inside. Let us not go to hell on our buts.


Meet Mrs. Prickles December 26, 2012

Some thought of Kahil Gibran as a prophet, a poet ahead of his time. While I would not completely disagree, it is my opinion that some of Gibran’s theories are simply elementary. He once wrote of joy and sorrow as a tango of emotional experience, symmetrical and reliant on each other for survival in one’s emotional journey. “Joy and sorrow are inseparable,” he wrote, “together they come and when one sits alone with you…remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”

2012-12-21 09.45.28Meet Mrs. Prickles. Sorrow and joy in one fabulously plush little package. She is my go-to stress reliever…a source of playful fun with my people and a source of relaxation after a long day.

My adoptive parents have seen to it that she’s not the first of her kind…there has also been a Mr. Prickles, and most recently Flea, but I think Mrs. Prickles might be my favorite so far. She is not the only toy in my toy basket, but she is the first one I reach for to entice dad into a game of fetch and the last one I play with each day.

For that reason, she is also the toy I choose to unconsciously suck on for hours at a time…my mom hypothesizes that I associate Mrs. Prickles with fun time with my people, so I calm myself by “nursing” on her plush little body. I know this sounds crazy, so its a good thing she has a master’s degree in psychology. Sure, its not doggie psychology (is that a thing?), but I know she understands me like no other human does – through both loving eyes and a thoughtful mind.

In fact, I vividly remember her reaction the first time I started nursing on Mr. Prickles…it was a blustery winter day a couple months after I had settled into my new home. I started sucking on Mr. Prickles, mom pet me, I moaned, and she seemed so worried. She immediately pulled out a much smaller version of the moving picture window in the living room (I believe she calls it a laptop…) and started typing furiously. The most common result of her search was that I was most likely weaned away from my birth mother too early or I had been abused. I’d rather not relive either of those memories, but I wish there was a way I could tell my mom she is right that both are part of my past.

I was about two years old when I met my adoptive parents for the first time, and there are a lot of things that happened in those first two years I would rather not remember…I have my reasons for scavenging for any and every food scrap that falls to the floor during a meal, and its no secret that I have a noticeable aversion to leather belts, power tools, and vacuum cleaners. But those painful memories of the past serve as a constant reminder to cherish the present….and so it is. Prophetic or otherwise, Gilbran was on to something simply complex…there would be no true joy without sorrow.


Reflections on Christmas: All dogs go to heaven, right? December 25, 2012

2012-12-24 23.04.57I woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed. All that tossing and turning mom did in her sleep last night kept me awake. I woke up feeling tired, crabby, and unmotivated. I could tell mom felt the same way because she was snippy with dad over what they should have for lunch of all things.

Then they left for a while to go to a place called church and they came back completely different people. Happy and jovial even. They turned on songs like “Joy to the World” and “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” and started dancing and singing along. I wanted nothing to do with it.

I overheard their conversation about this place called church and the message they heard about peace on Earth….and this got me to thinking…what peace? Where is it? I’ve heard a good deal of stories on the moving picture window lately of shootings at schools with small children, terrifying storms that force people from their homes, and people in third world countries who probably don’t eat as well as I do. Where in the world is this peace? Perhaps I was blinded by my lack of sleep, but I just don’t see it. How is it that mom and dad do? How is it that they believe?

That’s when the reflective conversation mom and dad were having hit a chord with me. Mom told dad a story of something called confirmation she experienced when she was younger. She said the passage the pastor referenced in church today was her confirmation verse.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you,” reads John 14:27. “I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, its so easy to lose sight of peace at the time we need it most, mom said.

That’s when it hit me…this peace they found at church is some pretty powerful stuff. Its a different kind of peace – not of this world, not something bought or borrowed, or something packaged up into an extravagantly wrapped box. Its the peace of hearts that have been reminded that each day is a gift. Its the peace behind this day called Christmas Eve. This place called church sparked Christmas spirit that has caught fire in my heart.

If that’s not a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


Joy: From the ground up December 21, 2012

Playing in the snowEnglish novelist Terry Pratchet once wrote that “joy is to fun what the deep sea is to a puddle…It’s a feeling inside that can hardly be contained.”

I never knew joy that special until a balmy summer afternoon about two and a half years ago when I met the people who would bring me into my forever home. Other dogs I know think the whole love at first sight thing is ridiculous, but when I saw them smile as they approached my designated area at that place called the humane society, I just knew…they would be my people. Since then, I have been privileged enough to experience moments of overwhelming joy on such a regular basis. I have come to learn that joy like I have in my heart holds its greatest value to me when I share it with others.

And so begins my quest to experience life to the fullest by sharing my ground-level perspective with the world.

Today was a day to glory in one of the very smallest sources of happiness I have come across – the wonder that is snow and all it brings with it. It never ceases to amaze me how something as small as a snowflake can bring so much merriment. It is one of the best examples I can think of to demonstrate how joy is best when shared, since snowfall like we had today often leads to two of my favorite things – extra cuddle time with my people and playtime in the snow. I wonder if my mom realizes how blessed I feel when she runs around like a ninny with me outside. I know she must be cold because she usually is so excited to get outside with me that she doesn’t put on a sensible coat. But we play and she laughs and I can’t tell whether my tail wagging or her laughter came first. Joy. In a moment, there it is.