Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Pursuit of Happiness July 4, 2013

Disappointment. In a word, that is apparently how thousands of people who attended the 3rd of July fireworks in my hometown felt in response to the highly anticipated event. It was gloomy, foggy and cooler than anticipated for the spectators, the majority of whom had been holding their spots for the fireworks show as long as a couple of days. And after all that time waiting, the show was much more a feast for the ears than the eyes.

Silly FaceTonight the noise carries on as people celebrate Independence Day all over America. It’s a day set aside to remember the sacrifices that have been made for our freedoms, and (in turn) pause to recognize the anniversary of the birth of our independence. The day is laden with traditions, most of which have always involved parades, picnics and fireworks. In a dog’s life, that means a day filled with treats, treats, and more treats. (Watermelon anyone?)

Though I have to admit I have never particularly cared for the loud bangs and booms that accompany fireworks, I do believe wholeheartedly in what they represent. They are bright, colorful and vibrant as they create a beautiful masterpiece in the sky. Aglow with radiating light, spectators smile and laugh and bond with family in these precious moments. Memories are created that last forever.

Unfortunately for the thousands of people who attended the fireworks in my hometown yesterday, the memories aren’t very positive. It was certainly a show they’ll never forget, but not in a good way. This got me thinking about what today is really about. Freedom. Liberty. Sacrifice. The pursuit of happiness.

None of these are found in fireworks. In fact, the fireworks gone awry remind me a bit of our best laid plans that tend to skid off track sometimes. It’s frustrating. No one likes or appreciates the detour (while it’s happening at least). And for good reason. Valuable time and effort goes into planning something so it is upsetting when things don’t turn out. And we do love and embrace our traditions. But things don’t always turn out.

Disappointment. Thousands of people felt it four about an hour straight yesterday. It is in these moments, when we’re about to let that demon of negativity into our hearts and minds, that it is most important for us to make our own fireworks. To be our own fireworks. To bring light and smiles to those around us and (in turn) to ourselves.  Let’s start ourselves a new tradition of sharing the fireworks of joy this year. That way no one will even notice if the actual fireworks are a gloomy haze of nothingness.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures December 28, 2012

Existentialism fascinates me. The philosophical theory that experiences define one’s existence was strongly influenced by German novelist Frank Kafka who said, “we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.” Well, that is the story of my year.

Good, bad or indifferent, 2012 was a year of firsts for me. I travelled to exciting new places, I earned the right to sleep in my parent’s room (instead of that blasted crate), and I had brushes with death that made me place a higher value on life. Its tough to pick just one “high” or “low” point, so I have chosen to review my most memorable moments as a means to recognize these existential moments that define my existence.

Memory lane 2012 began with me longing for the snow we saw at the start of 2011.

The great February blizzard of 2011 was very great indeed. I was disappointed by the lack of snow we saw this year, but the extra time exploring the great outdoors later in the year proved worth the wait…

In June, I took my first camping trip to Mirror Lake near Wisconsin Dells. I loved every second of it! All the new smells, sights, sounds….I know mom and dad were worried about me being quiet in the tent with them, but I was so exhausted after all our hiking on the trails that I paid little attention to the sounds of the night. Life lesson: Variety really is the spice of life.

In July, I got a haircut…while not my first, it was one of the shortest cuts I’ve ever had. I felt so free. Life lesson: “Beauty isn’t worth thinking about; what’s important is your mind. You don’t want a fifty-dollar haircut on a fifty-cent head” – Garrison Keillor.

In August, I met Diesel…one of my mom’s pals’ new puppy. I relished our moments together when I was bigger than him. He’s a chow/lab mix, so I knew he’d be bigger than me almost instantly. But I look forward to having him as a lifelong mate. Life lesson: “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down,” – Oprah Winfrey.

September was an especially exciting month. I went to my first race at Elkhart Lake. While I’m not sure I understand the point of the cars going around and around the track, it was my kind of day. I got to be somewhere new with my people in the gorgeous outdoors. The Friday night football game about a week later held a similar appeal – one of the little people in the family was playing in the game, so it was even more exciting to be there to root him on. Life lesson: I like race days and football. Simple as that.

In October, I travelled with my family way up north and impersonated president Lincoln on the World’s Largest Penny. It was also around this time that my mom finally convinced my dad to let me sleep in their bedroom with them instead of having me sleep in a crate in a room down the hall. It might seem silly, but that is a big deal to me. Life lesson: Appreciate the small things-they may not be as tiny as they seem.

Remember that though by Kafka about the bites and stings? November quite literally brought a few of those for me. It was uncharacteristically warm in Wisconsin, so I had a few teeny tiny little unwelcome visitors take shelter in my fur. Not one, not two, but three deer ticks I had to contend with this fall. Fortunately for me, my mom and dad pet me on such a regular basis that they found them all and removed them before it became a bigger problem.

Mid-month brought my biggest struggle. It was one of the first frigid days of the winter season, but I was still so excited to go to one of my most favorite places in this whole world: the dog park. Mom kept talking about how it was the last time of the year, so I prepared myself for some fun. It was disappointing to get there and have there only be two other dogs to play with, but I didn’t care. I ran right up on the picnic table to greet a breed I know to be called a pit bull and was unpleasantly surprised with the result. It’s hard for me to tell what happened next, because I kind of blacked out, but I’ve overheard my mom tell the story enough times to know it wasn’t pleasant. From what she’s said, that pit bull had me dangling four feet in the air by its teeth, while still atop that picnic table for a good minute before I fell to the ground with my tail between my legs. The next thing I can remember is my eye hurting and that nice lady at the vet telling me how lucky I was that the scratch in my eye wasn’t worse…I could have lost my sight. Life lesson: Seeing is believing.

But November also brought a high for me in all the extra time I got to spend with mom while she’s been on what I have now heard her call a leave of absence for recovery on her leg surgery. Life lesson: If you look for it, joy actually is all around.

Such became the stepping stone for my blog, which I would call December’s most memorable moment. And so it is…here we are at the end of December reflecting on the year. At its most basic application, existentialism claims one is defined by his or her experiences. And with that, I would agree that 2012 experiences have contributed to who I am – good, bad, or indifferent.