Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Stranger Danger October 5, 2014

I’ve never been sure whether to take it as a compliment or a criticism. I’ve heard mom say it a bunch when she’s trying to wrangle me in at the end of a visit to the dog park. I’ve heard her say it when we’re walking around the neighborhood. And, I’m not too proud to say, I’ve heard her say it when I’ve run away. I’m a fickle dog. I’d go home with anyone.

Truth be told, I’ve always thought she was right. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I fear it has become one of those things that may or may not have been true that I have come to believe as truth because of how many times I’ve heard it.

That all changed today. I was on the floor with dear baby Carter. We were playing around with his big huge box my beloved people recently crafted into a discover fort. There are circles and triangles and squares and he loves it so much when he sees me through one of the “windows” even though I think he’s pretty silly since I’ve obviously been there all along. Deep thinking Wiles

But today as I enjoyed play time with him, I thought about him meeting strangers. And I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the idea of him going home with another doggie at the dog park. I didn’t like the thought of him living in some other forever home in my neighborhood. And I certainly don’t like thinking about what would happen to him (let alone my people) if he ever ran away.

So I guess you could say the tables have turned. I used to think maybe I could go home with anyone, just like mom always said. I never was sure whether to think of it as a compliment or a criticism. And I certainly love many, just as I always say I do. But while I may have thought all of these things were possible from myself, I learned an important lesson from Carter today. I find that’s been happening lately. Whether I like it or not, this little person who screeches and pulls my fur and says “doggie” now has started teaching me things. Who would have thought.

I learned to more carefully live the philosophy I’ve proclaimed as mine. Love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe. Unless it’s with my forever family. I’d paddle them to wherever they want to go. Because there are things that make us uniquely us. There is a language that is uniquely ours. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

 

 

Same In Any Language February 10, 2014

It happens at least a couple dozen times a day. I wish I could speak human. And, usually within a minute or two, something reminds me it’s okay I can’t. It’s an endless emotional game I play. Lately it’s gotten worse. The strangest thing about it? There aren’t even words involved.

It’s all tears. Baby Carter cries for everything. When he’s hungry (which is a lot). When he wants to be held (which is a lot). When he’s gone to the bathroom (which is a lot). When he’s sleepy (which is a lot). Frankly, he cries. A lot. No more than the average baby (or so mom tells me). I’ve gotten better at tuning most of it out.My BuddyCrying

But today I realized something pretty important. It’s his language. It’s all he has right now. All I have is nonverbal communication. All he has is tears. So (when I’m not napping through it) I’ve been attempting to interpret the cries right along with my people. It’s been an interesting check of perspective, as I realize what its like to be so easily misunderstood.

And I wish (right along with my people) on a daily basis that I could translate. Or (better yet) that I could speak baby. But there was a moment today when I realized it’s okay that I can’t. Mom, Carter and I were cuddled up together in a cozy chair with the sun shining on us and I felt it. Love. From the ground up, I felt it through our snuggles. No words (or tears) necessary. And it happened without a translator. Because love is the same in any language.

 

No Words November 14, 2013

I don’t have a choice. All I get is my eyes, my tail, and the occasional strategic placement of my head or paws. Any other methods of communication are hard to come by when you have four legs. So I have to admit, days like today take a toll on my emotions.

We canines may not be able to see the entirety of the color spectrum, but I know with certainty that I saw my fair share of blue today. Mom is feeling blue, which is apparently a people term used to explain her emotionally cloudy forecast. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that little person inside her is somehow bringing down her morale. No Words

Because she’s been talking a whole lot about worry. She’s worried about the baby’s health. And being a good parent. And labor. And the money. Especially the money. Last I checked, money is green so I don’t know how it could be making her feel so blue. I stand, sit or lay idly by, all-the-while wishing there would be something – anything – I could say to make it better.

Then I hear dad say exactly what I would be saying and suddenly I don’t mind being silent. He tells her to calm down. Relax. Everything will work out. These are the things I would be telling her, too, if I could. But this is not the first time (and certainly won’t be the last) that there are no words. As I observed from dad’s attempt, it’s sometimes better not to say anything than to complicate the situation by throwing words in the mix. Sometimes a person just needs a hug.

I don’t have a choice. All I have is my eyes, my tail, and the strategic placement of my head or paws to communicate. And maybe that’s not so bad after all. Because as much words can help, they can also complicate things. Especially when it’s more a matter of faith than anything else. Faith takes no words. Faith is simply believing in the power that is contained in something so much more than words.

So tonight I keep quiet and instead silently pray for resolutions to come to some of mom’s worries. That peace come to her overwhelmed heart. But I can’t pray with my eyes, tail and paws any more than I can pray with words. Instead tonight I pray with my heart. “Prayer is not asking,” Mahatma Gandhi reflected, “It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of  one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

 

From the Ground Up October 28, 2013

Scientists claim us canines can understand somewhere between 100 and 200 people words. I say that’s hogwash. What these calculations can’t account for is our keen awareness of human emotion, which so frequently is hard to encapsulate into a word.Gaining Perspective

Treat. Outside. Dog park. These are words a dog comes to know. Sit, lay down, roll over. These are tricks of the canine trade. But love, faith, forgiveness and loyalty? These are words to live by. In a constantly evolving language, these words remain steadfast.

I have never been a big supporter of the “less is more” philosophy, but perhaps there is some insight to be gained from it in the case of conversation. Sometimes less really is more, given the understanding is there to aid in translation. My favorite Lebanese thinker Khalil Gibran challenged that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be?

I know mine certainly wouldn’t be treats, outside, dog park, sit, laydown and rollover. Mine would be the foundations from which all other language could be understood. Forgiveness. Compassion. Loyalty. Love. Laughter. Faith. Joy. From the ground up, these would be my seven words of choice because these are words us canines know inside and out.

We don’t hold grudges. We know when to be still and listen. We pause (in all our overwhelmed excitement) to welcome our loved ones home whether they’ve been gone five minutes or five days. We love unconditionally – and find creative ways to show it. We know how to bring fun to the party. We know who we are – and embrace it. We have faith in ourselves, which enables us to have faith in others. And, through it all, we know how to bring the light of joy into the darkest of situations.

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life,” Gibran suggested, “not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

Scientists have their theories. And maybe they’re right. But they didn’t account for the unique perspective we canines bring to human emotion. Literally and figuratively, there’s this thing about the attitude I chose to bring to life. When you see life from the ground up as I do, you are already on the ground. Regardless of how you got there, you are at ground zero. And there is no where to go but up.