Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

If It Wasn’t This July 31, 2013

I don’t get it. Car rides are joyous occasions. More often than not, the journey leads to exciting destinations. Not today.

Today I witnessed something terrible from my perch in the passenger seat. Today I witnessed death. There I was, safe and secure in my one of my happiest places, and there it was. I counted three mangled cars, and watched in horror as two people and a little person were carried away in beds with wheels. There was a Disney Princesses backpack in the road. Everything about the scene broke my little doggie heart.

As we pulled away, I listened as mom said a prayer for all those involved as well as their families. And we didn’t make it to the dog park. It took five times the normal amount of time to get there because of the accident (and no, it wasn’t just my perception of time moving at a snail’s pace) and mom had to get home to fix dinner.

Drive safely

I didn’t mind going home. I don’t recall ever seeing something like that before, and I was truthfully a little shook by it all. “It really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it Wiley?” mom said to me as she filled my bowl with kibble later. “Had I gotten home from work a few minutes sooner, that could have been us.”

It all reminded me of a line from a favorite flick of mine called Elizabethtown. “If it wasn’t this, it would be something else.” Talk about perspective. It’s so easy for me to think the world is coming to an end when I can’t remember where I “buried” Mrs. Prickles for the night. Or when mom comes home an hour or two later than usual. But really it’s not. Really it could be so much worse.

And it was worse – a lot worse – for that little person whose backpack I saw in the street. Mom followed the news of the crash and told dad the whole story over dinner. The little girl died. She will never wear her Disney Princesses backpack again. It makes me want to cry people tears just thinking about it.

Instead I will remember that if it wasn’t this, it would be something else. Mom was incredibly frustrated when she got home from that place called work later than usual. But I’m happy it happened. If it wasn’t this it would be something else. I could have been in a car crash today. A few minutes earlier and I would have been. And my mom would have been too. I shudder to think of what could have happened.

I realize now that it isn’t (always) the destinations that make car rides such a happy thing for me. I don’t even mind waiting patiently in the car while mom runs errands (which sounds exhausting to me anyway). My people are my world, and when they take me with them on people adventures I get the impression the feeling is mutual.  Car rides are joyous for me because of who I’m with, not where I’m going. Today I’m grateful for this and nothing else.


Life Before Me May 9, 2013

I was thinking today about the trees that make up a forest. There are so many possible applications of the idea it makes my little doggie head hurt. But (as usual) my heart tells me to stop complaining and start doing something about it.

The other day when mom was fixing dinner, I heard something I recognized from a favorite movie of mine called “Elizabethtown.” I thought nothing of it at first, but then mom said something to dad about it being a song at their wedding. “Remember sweetie, this was on our wedding CD?” she said.

Happy CamperAlas, I was getting a glimpse into the lives of my people before they were my people. I wish I’d been at their wedding, but I digress. In that moment I realized the music mom had been listening to while cooking was (in fact) the infamous wedding CD I’ve heard my dear aunt Morgan talk about in the past. It was a unique yet impressionable image of my parents when they were most happy and in love.

At their wedding was also a familiar Bible passage from Corinthians, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Indeed love perseveres. From what I understand, the year that followed the marriage of my parents was not an easy one. My mom, who was studying clinical psychology while working for a local newspaper, lost her job the following May. Two weeks later, her dad died suddenly. And for six months after that, she worked with her mom (my beloved grandmother) to ensure she would be okay after this was all behind us.

If there is something I’ve heard her say more than once in reference to that time in her life, it is simplicity at its finest. Those tough times define who she was then and who she is now. I saw it the other day when she was fixing dinner. I heard something I recognized that night from her life before me. But tonight I realized that isn’t such a bad thing. Like I said last night, it’s not all about me. (Heaven forbid). But that is the first in many steps to making a bigger impact on the world. That is my bigger goal in life. That is bigger than me.

Just like that forest of trees I was pondering today. Each and every moment we live is like a tree in our own personal forest of memories. Every person we meet, and every experience we have builds our surroundings into a better place. I’m not happy those things happened to my mom (and by proxy my dad) and her family, but let’s face it: some trees aren’t quite as pretty as others. But they all make up our forest, and for that we should be grateful.


Feeling Freebird Freedom May 3, 2013

Sometimes I wonder about this phrase I’ve heard people say that it isn’t too good to be true, it’s too good to be free. It seems a bit obvious to me as I understand that we generally get what we pay for both literally and figuratively speaking. But the more I thought about it, I can’t say I appreciate the negative connotation in either piece of commentary.

I will admit: even the optimist in me sometimes contemplates the impossible. The glass half empty, if you will. Then I remember the words scrawled on a banner above the band that played “Freebird” at the funeral of Mitch Baylor in Elizabethtown: If it wasn’t this, it would be something else.

I would bet the average person’s mind would flip toward the negative when they think about that phrase, as well as the earlier thoughts on the reality of the cost of things. But what if we challenged our brains to see even the negative implications of these words on through the lenses of a more positive outlook?

Freedom itself certainly isn’t cheap. I thank my lucky stars for living in a country where we are blessed by the heroes of our past who have fought to protect the freedom of all of the people in my life. A lot of animals know a thing or two about what life looks like without freedom and let me tell you: I’d take this life over that one any day. In respect to freedom, we sure have gotten what was paid for it, especially in our freedom to express our thoughts, beliefs and values.

It’s no secret that I am a lover of music and today as I have gratitude for all that isn’t free in life, I find myself turning to the classic rock anthem “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The song makes a meaningful appearance in a favorite movie of mine “Elizabethtown,” as a ballroom of people celebrate the life of the recently deceased father figure Mitch Baylor.

“If I leave here tomorrow Would you still remember me? For I must be traveling on, now, ‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see. But, if I stayed here with you, girl, Things just couldn’t be the same,” the band roars. “I’m as free as a bird now, And this bird you can not change. Oh… oh… oh… oh… oh… And the bird you cannot change. And this bird you cannot change. Lord knows I can’t change.”

Holding true to the themes of the movie, the lyrics of the song radiate through the ballroom as the band plays under a banner reading “if it wasn’t this, it would be something else.” Again, it would be way too easy to view this thought through the lenses of negativity, and I refuse to do that today.

Instead, I hold up my freedom to express my beliefs, and (I’m not going to lie), doing so makes me feel free as a bird. Some might think me ignorant for shining some positive sunlight on thoughts others may view negatively, but what can I say? This bird you cannot change.


You’ve Gotta Have Faith February 8, 2013

I would say I have a pretty eclectic taste in movies. Among my personal favorites are Homeward Bound, Elizabethtown and All Dogs Go to Heaven (obviously).

A less obvious choice is a 1995 movie about a man, his regrets, and his attempts to make things right. In “Fluke,” it takes dying in a car crash for the workaholic main character to realize what he had been taking for granted. He comes back to life as a lovable (albeit clumsy) dog who finds a way to love the family he left behind, perhaps even more than he did when he was human. As one who has been (and in my opinion always will be) a dog all my life, I can’t say I’m a believer in reincarnation, but I most definitely have faith in second chances.Praying :)

I know God looks different to everyone, but faith looks the same. That’s one of the things I love most about it. Faith in its most basic essence is humility. Trust. Truth. “Faith is to believe what you do not see,” said Saint Augustine, “the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”

Belief takes faith to the next level. It is because I have faith enough to see light in the darkness that I want to share the light with others. Regardless of what you believe, take time to share your faith with someone who needs it today. Paw it forward, if you will.

“God enters by a private door into every individual,” said great transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson. In my family, God is an omnipresent, omniscient loving being who sent his Son to die on the cross so people can go to heaven regardless of their sins.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a pretty simple dog. I love my mom and dad and the home we have together. I find joy in unusual things and seek inspiration in the overlooked. I believe in the golden rule. But fundamentally, I am nothing without faith. I know this means a lot of different things to a lot of people, but regardless of its origin faith is no fluke.


Daily Prompt: Apply Yourself Turning Fiasco into Fortune January 19, 2013

“No true fiasco ever began as a quest for mere adequacy. A motto of the British Special Air Force is: ‘Those who risk, win.’ A single green vine shoot is able to grow through cement. The Pacific Northwestern salmon beats itself bloody on it’s quest to travel hundreds of miles upstream against the current, with a single purpose, sex of course, but also… life.” This philosophical (yet comedic) end to the movie “Elizabethtown” is the foundation for my reflection today.

I don’t know if its the gritty storyline following the passing of the lead character’s father, or the fabulous score that weaves the story together, but the offbeat comedy is one of my favorite people movies. The story begins with epic failure, loss and sense of personal defeat, yet somehow (in spite of it all), the emotional journey of Drew Baylor ends in joy. Life, amidst constant challenge. He re-wrote the ending to his life story.

That’s a pretty powerful concept if you ask me. “What if you learn to stop the dramas and started to trust the flow of life and the goodness of Spirit,” Breathnach challenges in Simple Abundance. “Isn’t it possible that you could write new chapters in your life with happy endings?

I wasn’t always a believer in happy endings. The first two years of my life were filled with challenges to my spirit. It would have been easy to give up. It was much harder to try. To believe. To live. So I did as today’s daily prompt suggests: I applied myself.


Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you.

I made one of the toughest decisions that ended up changing my life forever. I decided to see the best in all things. It wasn’t easy at first. It was especially challenging when I was adopted by a family I immediately loved wholeheartedly, just to be ignored amidst the household of three other dogs, and ultimately returned to the humane society. As an instinctive lover of people, I will admit their rejection sent me into some pretty dark days. But I refused to write myself into a tragedy.

I hardly think it is a coincidence that a mere two weeks later I met my mom and dad and a week after that they took me to my forever home.

I’ve lived fiasco, but that was not the end to my story. Joy is my victory and my fortune.