Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Look No Further August 1, 2013

I enjoyed a paradise for the senses tonight. The birds were singing in beautiful harmonious surround sound, accompanied by the faint chiming of wind chimes. The sun warmed my soul just enough as I inhaled the smell of people food on nearby grills through the cool breeze. If summer could be captured in a moment, I had it in the palm of my paw today.Joy

It was the very antithesis of misery. That’s the word my mom uses when nothing seems to be cooperating. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it happens it throws both dad and I for a loop. I’m not sure whether to steer clear or offer my sincerest of condolences, and I can tell dad feels the same.

It happened just the other day, when mom woke up with a terrible headache (which I’ve never experienced but I gather is quite painful), and nothing went right from the moment she got out of bed. She cut herself in the shower (heaven knows how), burned herself with the hair iron, spilled lotion all over the place, and then ripped the shorts she intended to wear to a family gathering that afternoon. And that’s when the crying started. It lasted longer than usual, and dad didn’t know what to say. (He usually doesn’t, poor guy, so I often find myself wishing he would just follow my lead).

I stayed my distance at first, but cuddling my condolences seemed the preferred method of recovery for this particular instance of misery. It passed as it always does, and I didn’t think anything of it. Until tonight, that is. I found myself reflecting on this thing called misery in a moment of pure summer perfection, when everything seemed to align into a happy harmony.

I’ve seen it happen far too many times – simple things (like lotion on the floor, hair iron burns, and ripped shorts) can really bring the spirit down when they all happen at once. But one of life’s most precious gifts is that of balance. Fortunately for us that means the same can be said of the positive impact of simple things (like birds singing, wind chimes clinking and people food grilling). Joy. Sometimes we need to look no further than our own backyards to find it. Whoever said good things come in small packages sure nailed it on the head.


Mirror, Mirror April 17, 2013

I had an interesting conversation with myself today. I know all dogs react differently to mirrors, and I know that I generally avoid the mirrors in my forever home. It’s not for any good reason, I just don’t see any value in making adjustments to my general appearance as I have come to accept my look as part of who I am.

But today I realized it’s not the avoidance I should be afraid of, and instead the lessons I’m missing that lay behind that special kind of glass. I’ve said before I don’t like how my mom looks at herself in the mirror, so today I thought I’d give these mirrors some extra attention to see what on Earth their problem is. At first I wasn’t sure how much I gained from the experiment, as the reflection staring back at me looked just as I thought it would. It looked just like I see myself in my head.A Wiley Portrait

That’s when it clicked. My mom doesn’t see herself in her head like I see her. Heck, she doesn’t even see herself in her head like the world at large sees her. Obviously, I see her through the eyes of complete and unconditional love, and I wish nothing more than for her to see herself that same way. And I know all those who love her see the same beautiful person I do.

But I’ve also heard this theory that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While I think there might be some truth to it, I can’t say I totally agree with that theory. I’ve mentioned before I’m not that big a fan of the emotions I see all over my mom’s face when she sees her reflection in the mirror. So today I wondered, am I the beholder in that case, or is she?

“Everything has beauty,” ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “but not everyone sees it.” I make it a point to see beauty in all things, but I know that’s not always the case, especially with the women in my life. As a lover of life and all the beauty in it, it didn’t used to make any sense to me why my mom didn’t see how beautiful she is.

But I had an interesting conversation with myself in the mirror today. I tried to imagine what it is like to be her, pressured with all the run of the mill standards of society, and it made sense. Women are their worst beauty critics, as demonstrated in a recent study done by Dove.

All the more reason for us canines in their lives to show them how much they are loved. It might seem silly to some, since we can’t actually say how beautiful they are to us, but at least through our love we can hopefully demonstrate how special they are. As the great American poet Emily Dickenson once said, “beauty is not caused, it is.” It’s just up to us to see it in all the right places.