Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Right Questions February 14, 2014

It could be any number of things. A cell phone ringing. An unrelated conversation with someone else. A to-do list that would take longer to complete than there are hours in the day. As a professional observer of people, I am here to confirm there are so many things that distract us from things that really matter on a daily basis.

It wasn’t anything extraordinary for my forever people today. Dad had an especially trying day at that place called work. Mom struggled to console baby Carter through one of his most fussy days yet. But today I watched with love as they pushed both of these things aside. Today they celebrated Valentine’s Day. And in doing so they celebrated each other.

Love. From the ground up, I watched it unfold before my little doggie eyes as dad put together a surf and turf dinner for mom. I saw it in their eyes when they read the cards they got for each other. Yet there was something else, something more, that set the day apart. Something I realized could do a lot of people good.

Questions. Thoughtful directive emotional questions beyond the more common “how was your day” pleasantries. What have I done this past year that you’re most happy with, mom asked. What can I do to be a better husband, dad asked. And conversation abounded, regardless of the happenings of the prior eight hours. Distractions stepped aside in those precious moments and it was just them.

It was just two people falling in love with each other all over again. And it was beautiful. This is not to say they don’t love each other every day of the year. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. But today was different and I think it’s because they put aside everything else and asked the right questions.

You know the ones. They challenge us and build us up and make us think. They are capable of breathing fresh perspective into our relationships. These are the questions we should be asking each other frequently. It might not be as easy as an empty “how are you,” but I think that’s the point. Love, like the love being celebrated around the country today, should never be empty. It should never be distracted. It should be full and overwhelming to the point where no distraction is powerful enough to take away its attention to detail.

“Love is a force more formidable than any other,” suggests American author Barbara de Angelis. “It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.”

Love offers you more joy than any material possession ever could. But you have to reach out and take it. At least from what I can tell, one way to do this is to ask the right questions. Like what is love? It’s powerful. It can transform you. Love is joy. Love is life.

I Love You

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

 

Just Call Me Blessed September 2, 2013

Swell. Good. Great. Peachy. These are all common responses to what I think is likely the most frequently asked conversational question. How are you? As I am a believer in responding to this question with nothing but sincere honesty, I time to time find myself cooking up creative responses in my mind. Super duper. Splendid. Or (again in support of honesty)  crappy.

Perspective has taught me a lot about the power contained in identifying with such words, or putting labels and names on things. Words are powerful tools to begin with, but names take the conversation to another level.

This struck me today as I found myself feeling particularly happy. It is Labor Day in America, which (for some reason I don’t fully understand) means my people stayed home from that place called work. I’ve never been shy about my love for the weekends, so I suppose it’s not too far a stretch that a three-day weekend is in a land of happiness all its own. Especially since they spent the majority of the day with me at home.

In turn, I enjoyed an unordinary amount of time lounging outside (where I do some of my best thinking). Today as I contemplated these words with which we identify, I searched my memory for something and came up blank. Before I was Wiley (and briefly Zorro), I didn’t have a name. I was just another dog living out my life on the streets. Characters I came across while I was nameless either had given names I picked up or names I assigned them.Peaceful Gratitude

Like Tiger, the lab mix I once misjudged as manipulative and catty because he had a sneaky selfish way about him. It turned out Tiger was sly because he had to be. He was always stealing the best scraps before I could get to them because he was feeding his puppies, not because he was vindictive. But in addition to mystery, tigers are known for their strength and Tiger was one of the strongest dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

His name (the name I assigned him) was true to who he was. And I would say mine is true to who I am as well, though I know another name would not change my identity. So today as I let the breeze sweep over me and took in all the delicious smells of the neighborhood, I developed a new name for myself.

How am I? I’m blessed. Who am I? Just call me blessed. My days are not always perfect, but this simple truth remains. From the moment I wake to the moment my head hits the proverbial hay I am grateful to be alive. I am, indeed, blessed.

 

How Are You Really? July 30, 2013

I’m not proud to admit this but I sent Mrs. Prickles to the emergency room recently.

One minute I was nursing on her as usual, and the next minute I couldn’t keep myself from tearing the little white fluff balls out of her. Both are instinctual behaviors for me, yet I was surprised to find myself enjoying the task of removing fluff balls. Several of the other members who make up my comfort circle have similar holes in them that I leave alone. So why now did I find myself losing control?

Truth be told, I don’t know what happened. And I think that happens sometimes. We get so caught up in something it kind of takes over our motor functions until someone brings us back to reality. I didn’t want to hurt Mrs. Prickles. I didn’t mean to. But I did.

 

It makes me stop and think about how I see people interacting with one another. With everything going on in people’s lives it can be so easy to get caught up in things and not pay attention to what is happening around you. It brings to mind a commonplace people conversation I have overheard one too many times. Person one asks person two how they are. Person two responds with a generally generic answer like super, swell, good or (on occasion) terrible. Person two then turns the question back to person one. How are you? Sometimes the conversation continues, sometimes not.Thinking of You

What bothers me about this interaction is that it always seems to me to be on autopilot. Just like me and Mrs. Prickles. The people are (more often than not) just having the conversation to be polite and really neither person cares all that much about how the other person is doing. Not really. So why do we ask the question?

Why did I start uncontrollably taking fluff balls out of one of my favorite toys? It’s in our nature. Something in my nature (that I don’t particularly care to embrace or understand) encouraged me to rip Mrs. Prickles (who I happen to love) to pieces. Something in people nature makes them feel the need to start conversations in which their heart isn’t invested.

And I’m not saying these are bad things. Without our nature we wouldn’t be who we are, after all. But I am in the business of challenging what’s easy. Mrs. Prickles is all fixed now, no thanks to me. (I’m going to do what I can to keep it that way). I have, after all, also seen the polite “how are you” question develop into much deeper people conversations. So maybe its worth it to take life off autopilot every once in a while.