Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Keepers of the Light January 27, 2014

Leadership. It’s a big word that means a lot of things to a lot of people. Ask 100 people to define a leader and you’ll get at least 60 different responses. Words like strength, courage, integrity, honesty, and loyalty all come to mind. Ask a dog, and the response is pretty simple. Leader of the Pack

For us, its almost instinctual. We have a pack mentality, therefore there will always be a pack leader. And there will always be a pack leader because of our pack mentality. It is that simple. We look to our leader for everything, and do not mind doing so because we prefer to know where we stand. And if no pack leader steps forward, we will assert ourselves as the leader. Whether or not that is the best option is left for interpretation.

I’m not saying one way of thinking is better than another, but I do think there is something to be learned from especially the similarities between the two. At least from what I can tell, there is something almost instinctual about a person’s definition of leadership as well. It is personal, usually aligned in some way with one’s subjective experiences. Good leaders have a way of asserting their leadership in a way that guides rather than forces followers. A way of making them feel at home with their place in life while at the same time in control of it.

Late great American basketball coach John Wooden had a few things to say about leadership, one of them being that leaders make decisions while followers make suggestions. Because let’s face it. It’s pretty easy to make a blanket statement about something bothersome. It’s something completely different to actually do something about it.

That’s the thing about leadership. It means different things to different people. But in a way that is also the glue that binds its meaning together. Whether you have two legs or four, one thing in particular seems to ring true. The best leaders are those whose followers become leaders themselves.

So I guess I fall somewhere in the middle of the canine and the people way of thought. The way I see it, leaders are keepers of the light. They shine brightly for those in the darkness. They guide gently with even the smallest flickering flame. They help people see the way. And (perhaps most importantly) they pass the torch along so there is never a moment of darkness.

 

A Simply Spiritual Sanctuary February 21, 2013

I’m no stranger to feeling like an outcast. To feeling neglected and misunderstood. My misfit memories bring back visions of loneliness and hopelessness I often try to forget. But today is a day to remember. Today is a day to reflect and paw it forward to my fellow outcasts and misfits.

Today is the day because of a dream I had last night that I was gifted a plot of land and endless resources to do with it what I pleased. I know it sounds silly to afford a terrier like myself with such a gift, but I did not hesitate. The choice was simple. I had heard about a foundation that was raising money not just to provide a sanctuary for outcasts like I once was, but to offer them a second chance at emotional freedom from rejection.

“Through the art of compassion, the continuously devastating issue of bullying in our country could be approached in an intensely impactful manner that encourages healthy relationships,” the ISF web site reads. “We will bring the bruised together as a family to learn just how unique–and just very the same–we all are…and how if we unite…we are NOT the outcast, we ARE the UNSTOPPABLE. We believe in the understanding that all living creatures deserve dignity, love, compassion and the right to life.”

Bing defines sanctuary as “a safe place, especially for (those) being persecuted.” I was lucky. I found my refuge when my adoptive parents brought me into my forever home. I find my refuge every day when I have food, water, and the love that ties it all together. Not a day goes my that I don’t wish that for all of my brothers and sisters who have yet to find it.

It was that easy in my dream. I wished for my land to become the ISF sanctuary and it happened. I was there with them somehow, and we were all happy together, united in our misfit and outcast spirits. The grass was a beautiful green, the birds were singing and all was well with the world. I can’t remember the last time I was so disappointed to wake up.

I don’t know how it was that the sanctuary came to life in my dream. I wished the it to be and it was. It was that simple in my dream. If only it could be that simple in real life.