Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Building a Mystery November 5, 2013

Mystery solved. Today, amidst a shared moment of joy from the ground up, I figured it out. Which came first – the chicken or the egg?

The epiphany happened during a game I invented to bring laughter into the Schmidt house at any given moment. The best part is my people never see it coming. If you’ve ever seen a dog initiate play with another dog, you’ll be able to picture it. The game begins with me with my butt in the air, tail wagging. Then mom or dad pretend to grab something out of thin air and hide it under a pillow or a blanket or even the kangaroo pocket on what they call a sweatshirt. Joy

And I always take the bait. I chase the invisible prize wherever it goes – under the pillows, through the blankets, inside the sweatshirt, I stop at nothing to claim victory. By the end, my people are as out of breath from laughing as I am from chasing.  It’s really quite the ruse.

I’m convinced my beloved people think this is all their idea. That they came up with this game, and that I must not realize its only air I’m chasing. And I can’t say I’d ever want them to think otherwise.

Because victory isn’t the invisible prize. No sir. It’s the laughter, the contagious joy, that happens in these precious silly moments. Tonight the moment lasted a good 10 minutes, which allowed me time to reflect on the mystery of the joy contagion.

“Joy is not in things,” German musician Richard Wagner suggested, “it is in us.”

It is oddly reflective of the chicken and the egg debacle. Which comes first, my happiness or the joy of my people? I solved the mystery tonight. Today, amidst a shared moment of joy from the ground up, I figured it out. Which comes first – the chicken or the egg? It doesn’t really matter. “Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others,” beloved American first lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” Mystery solved.


Little Big Things September 19, 2013

The sky is crying tonight. And it’s not whimpering in a corner. It is throwing an all-out temper tantrum complete with bright flashes of light and loud bangs that echo through the walls of my forever home. I don’t particularly care for thunderstorms, but I’m grateful I they don’t frighten me as I know they do some dogs.

Little Big ThingsInstead, I find myself cuddling a little closer to my people and bearing down until the tantrum is over. It sounds like a little thing, but it’s pretty big to me. That’s the funny thing about perspective. What might seem small to you can make or break another person’s day, week or month. Just as I am a believer in the importance of remembering the person behind the people, I appreciate when people place value on the little things.

Like when my groomer Mary stops to pet me and tell me she thinks I’m handsome while she’s got me in that terrible bath. Or I get an extra treat from Bonnie at the Starbucks drive through. Or (best yet) when anyone I come across smiles from the heart. None of these take much effort from the giver, but they the capability of having a profound impact on the receiver.

“For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed,” suggested my favorite Lebanese philosopher Khalil Gibran. That’s why I call them little big things; they are incredibly valuable no matter what your perspective in life may be. Because let’s face it. Life gets stormy sometimes.

We can’t control when it happens, but sometimes the world seems to roar and shake around our feet. It is these moments, amidst these bright flashes of light and loud bangs that echo in our hearts, that the little things matter most. Like snuggling close to my forever people when its raining cats and dogs outside. Or offering a helping hand to someone who needs it. Or paying someone a hard-earned compliment. They might seem like little things to you, but sometimes the littlest things have the power to calm the biggest storms.