Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

At Face Value November 13, 2014

It’s a long way away, but I have decided what I would like to dress up as for Halloween next year. It’s something honorable, something I wish I could be in real life sometimes. Plus, it involves black and white stripes, which is a bonus for me (as long as it doesn’t involve jail). For Halloween next year I would like to be a referee.

I say this because it would bring to light something I’ve often felt about the beloved people in my life. I spend a lot of time observing what happens around me, so over the course of my life I have come to know a few distinct truths about human interaction.

It’s messy. And complicated. And sometimes I think it would do better if there was someone to step in, intervene, and bring focus back to a conversation that veered so far off track that occasionally people can’t even remember why they started fighting in the first place. If I was a referee, I would do just that. I would remind people that whatever they are disagreeing about must not be as big a deal as it’s being construed as or they wouldn’t have all but forgotten it. I would remind to take words at face value rather than blowing things unnecessarily out of proportion. I would remind them they love each other.Alone with My Thoughts

Because it is indeed messy and complicated. But it’s also beautiful. I just wish it looked more like doggie communication sometimes. We love with our whole selves, no questions asked. Our world literally revolves around our people. They are number one, and we take everything they do at face value just as we deliver our love in its purest form.

But alas, I cannot speak. I can’t call a foul or push pause when I see a conversation go off track. At least not until I’m wearing my referee costume next Halloween. That’s when the magic is going to happen.

 

Seeing Through the Fog December 4, 2013

I can’t see a thing. This has been among my first thoughts of the day for three days in a row now. The days have begun like any other, except for when mom lets me outside in the morning. It’s been so unbelievably foggy, I feel completely blind. It’s a good thing I know my way around my backyard paradise so well.Seeing Through the Fog

Being encompassed by a dense fog like this reminds me of what it feels like to be overwhelmed. The fog can seem to close in from every direction. And you can’t see. You’re blinded by the realm of possibility. It doesn’t happen to me often as I’m fortunate enough to have a pretty simple life. From (albeit dreaded) regular visits to the veterinarian to the food in my bowl every day, my parents take really good care of me. There is no reason to feel overwhelmed.

Thank goodness for that because I don’t think I’m much of a fighter. I’ve always thought of myself as more a peacekeeper than anything else. But when I think of the fighters I’ve known in my life, one face comes to mind every time. Tiger. Now he was a fighter. I remember watching in disgust as he violently fought with other dogs for anything from a bone to a loaf of bread. He was always one step ahead of me when it came to finding the best food scraps in the neighborhood and I hated him for it.

That was, until I found out what he was really fighting for. He was providing for a small litter of puppies after the family lost their birth mom. Just like I had lost mine, only my deadbeat dad had left long before I was born. Tiger wasn’t like that. He stood by his family and fought for them in every sense of the word.

He was away hunting for food one day when the fog closed in on me. He’d left me to watch over the little ones before, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. But it was. That was the day one of the dogs Tiger had made an enemy decided to seek revenge. I’ve never felt so overwhelmed in my life. I was blinded by all the devastating ways I knew the story could end. But I couldn’t let that stop me. I needed to see through the fog. I needed to persevere.

So I used the only weapons I knew I had in my arsenal capable of defeating this strange dog with the crazy eyes. My brain and my heart. And (with a little help of a feline friend of mine), I won that particular battle. The puppies were safe. I was safe. Looking back I know it is because I decided to see through the fog to the heart of the matter. Maybe I’m more of a fighter than I thought I was.

 

The Color Blue December 2, 2013

There is usually crying. And some yelling. And some choice words. It’s not a pleasant thing to witness, and yet I am at the mercy of those engaged it the middle of it all. I have no choice but to stand by and observe. Arguments.

They doesn’t happen often in the Schmidt home, but when they do they definitely fall into a category of conversations I would prefer to never have heard. Yet I remain by both mom and dad (a tricky place to be in such situations), steadfast and true. I love them both with equal halves of my heart and never take sides.Listen Here

Except for once. I remember because it was a dreary early winter day like today a few years ago. The grey mood of the sky was directly reflective of the emotional context of my forever family. Mom had been blue for a while. And not blue like the color. She was sad. I think I knew it before dad because us canines have a way of sensing these things. She was tired a lot. She wasn’t as responsive to my attempts to engage in chase or pickle in the middle. It seems that place called work was among the things that had worn her down into a shell-like version of herself.

So I sided with dad the day he confronted her about it. I hated seeing her that way, and she needed to hear everything he had to say. It wasn’t comfortable for any of us, yet I know that was a day we will not soon forget. It will stick with us for all of the right reasons and none of the wrong. And it wasn’t fun.

Crying, yelling and choice words were among the key players. I remember wishing I could be somewhere (anywhere) else but in that room. But then I remember the color blue mom was then and see how happy she is now and I realize how important those conversations can be.

“The character of a man is known from his conversations,” suggested Ancient Greek dramatist Menander. In that case, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that sometimes the toughest conversations are the most important ones to have. They show love, not hate. They show concern, not contempt. And ultimately they lead to joy, even if it doesn’t seem that way in the moment.