Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Best Kind of Way December 28, 2014

A year ago today I had absolutely no idea what I had in store. I was going about my business keeping mom’s spot on the bed warm as she wrapped a couple of last-minute Christmas gifts for an after-Christmas holiday party. Everything about the scene was as I’ve seen it dozens of times: her traditional Christmas movies played in the background as she sampled from a tray of goodies she only lets herself eat once a year while she wraps presents.

But this time something was different. At nine months pregnant, it was an issue for her to walk comfortably, let alone wrap an attractive present. I was getting frustrated even watching it happening, but she stayed calm. She took her time and ended up wrapping those two presents just as beautifully as the first round she’d completed days ago. So what if it took her an hour? Dad was out running errands. All said and done, it was a pretty typical day.

Hi Carter

Hi Carter

What happened a few days later when they brought home dear baby Carter for the first time was life changing. I knew it would be, but I don’t think anything could really have prepared me to the extent to which everything I knew in life would change. From the daily (and for those first few months nightly) routine I’d come to appreciate to the constant effort that is baby-proofing to the presence of this new little person, my forever home would never be the same.

I remember being a bit resentful after the initial excitement wore off. As much as my instincts told me to protect this tiny screaming bundle of “joy,” I couldn’t help but notice how much time and attention dear baby Carter was taking away from me. So I kept my distance and slowly re-integrated myself into a comfortable rhythm in this new life.

I thought I might regret that decision, but now I realize it was the smartest thing I could have done. It allowed me to do one of the things I do best – observe. I listened as Carter’s cries morphed into various forms of happy babbling and have since started to resemble words and sentences. I watched as rolling turned into crawling. I stood by as walking turned into running.

And I’ve learned so much. Life has changed a ton since that quiet moment with my mom all of those months ago. Through all of it, I’ve learned about perseverance and how to survive the ultimate form of sleep deprivation. I’ve learned the value of relationships as I’ve seen almost all of those in my circle come closer together. I’ve learned what it means to adapt and be flexible and understand that sometimes there are days that things just don’t get done.

That is why I can say with confidence this year has indeed been life-changing in the best kind of way.

 

Obedience School Drop Out June 28, 2013

I’ve been called a lot of not-so-nice things in my relatively short doggie life. Obedience school drop out. Behaviorally challenged. Approved for homes with children ages 12 and above. Yet I find in life’s greatest contradictions lie some of the most intricate sources of wisdom.

Its true of animals and people alike if you ask me. If you hear something enough times, you start to believe it as truth. In a dog’s life, words like stupid, naughty, and troubled haunted my puppyhood. In a person’s life, overuse of words like stupid, disabled, or challenged as a child can impact a person for the rest of their adult life. Truth becomes us. But can we become truth?

Becoming Truth

I’ve often wondered this as I think nostalgically back on my time before my people brought me into my forever home. I encountered a variety of characters in a myriad of settings who each taught me invaluable lessons along my journey. So how could I be so stupid? Why do they keep calling me naughty? What did the folks at the humane society say to my mom that almost made her give up fighting to adopt me?

Then it happened. The tides changed, and with them my life changed forever. Two distinctly similar moments come to mind when I think of the brilliance of contradictory wisdom. My first night at the humane society when I thought the world was coming to an end, Rusty the golden retriever showed me the light. Much like my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rusty believed we are not products of what the world tells us, but rather of what we tell ourselves. We are what we think, so of course if we believe the negative things that are said about us we indeed may become them.

The bookend to my understanding of this occurred only a few short months later, when my forever family took me to see an animal behaviorist for my alleged behavioral problems. (This was required by the humane society as a condition of my adoption.) I’ll never forget the first two sentences Jenny said when we began our session. “He’s got to be one of the most unique looking dogs I’ve ever met,” she said, “and so smart!”

It was the first time anyone had ever used the word smart to describe me. And in that moment I was both overwhelmed with joy and humbled. Rusty changed my interpretation of the world around me by changing my interpretation of myself, and here I was being praised for simply being me. I know it sounds contradictory, but in that moment I realized true wisdom is found through admission there is much yet to learn.

It is because of my personal admission of humility that I can say I honestly wouldn’t mind being called those negative names anymore. Sure, if we hear something repeated enough times we begin to believe it. But let us learn from the variety of characters life offers us. Let us choose to contradict the negative things with our positive thoughts. Let us become our own truth.