Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Simple Things December 3, 2013

It’s pretty simple. Fairly basic. And entirely necessary. The act of breathing is such a foundational function of life that most of us don’t even think about it. It just comes naturally. To most of us.

It’s not so easy for my great grandma who – at the age of 83 – is healthy as a horse if not for her asthma. It’s a daily struggle for my friend with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). And most recently my mom was challenged with an unbelievable shortness of breath because my future little person was comfortably lodged into her ribs. Like many things in life, the act of breathing seems to be one of those things that can be easy to overlook. We just assume that we will go on breathing, no questions asked. It’s not always that simple.

Just BreatheSo you can imagine my surprise the other day when mom held dad’s hand to her belly and had dad feel the baby breathing. I thought it was absurd. But sure enough, dad confirmed the rhythmic movements and the three of us sat there in awe for a moment. I’m not sure I understand it, but I can’t imagine it’s very easy for the baby to be doing this practice breathing. Yet it’s possible.

I know the biblical phrase is usually thought of to be “all things are possible to those who believe.” Today I got to thinking about how that applies to those who breathe. Albeit challenging for some, taking a moment to pause and recognize the miracle of breath can change a person’s entire perspective.

It certainly did for my mom the other day as we all bore witness to those miraculous baby practice breaths. In those same moments mom realized something. She too could breathe. The baby must have shifted off of her ribs in a way that made it easier for her to breathe again. So there we were, one blessed family, sitting together in silence. But it was more than that because in those moments I was reminded to be grateful for something simple. Something basic. Something that comes pretty naturally. Breath. It might sound silly, but I love when life reminds us to celebrate the simple things.

 

Wonder of Wonders November 23, 2013

Grunting. Groaning. Grimacing. Mom has been doing a whole lot of these things lately. “Don’t mock me,” she said tonight (when dad started teasing her about the proceeding grunt), “I’m growing a person here.”

Apparently that person is making basic things-like breathing-very challenging these days. And something has caused the ribs on her right side to be in a great deal of pain. Her doctor person has said this “popped rib” could be caused by a myriad of things relating to the pregnancy, including (but not limited to) the fact that baby Schmidt is currently sideways. My future little person is sideways and kicking on mom’s ribs from the inside.

JoyIt all sounds so awful. And it is painful to watch. Again dad and I stand by, longing to help somehow, but knowing there is nothing we can do. Until today. Today we were all reminded what is happening (albeit it uncomfortable right now) is a pretty spectacular miracle.

A banner told me so. “A Little Miracle,” it read. It was part of the decorations at grandma’s house for the baby shower, which I now know is different from the shower in the bathroom where my people clean themselves. (I was in quite the quandary the last time my people left to go to a shower).

But I’ve since learned my lesson. This is a different kind of shower. This is a type of showering of love on a person (or people) celebrating something special. This is a baby shower. And this time I even got to participate! It was very different than my last baby shower experience, when I relied only on the stories my people shared with each other afterward to understand the happenings of the day. This time I witnessed games and presents and (most importantly) joy. From the ground up, it was everywhere today.

It didn’t take long for me to realize today was about more than the bundle of joy. It was a celebration of the miracle of life. I know it hasn’t felt much like a miracle lately with all the grunting, groaning and grimacing going on. But it’s not about that. It’s about the miracle. The life. My mom is indeed eight months into growing a person. And from what I can tell as an observer it’s not an easy job. American author Norah Ephron went as far as to suggest “if pregnancy were a book they would cut the last two chapters.”

I may not be the one going through it (watching it is painful enough for me), but I can honestly say I can’t even consider cutting the last two chapters. Because it’s a miracle. It’s life. The end is the beginning. And I can’t wait for it to start.

 

Let’s Start With Forever June 29, 2013

It has been suggested that a canine’s greatest fault is our short lifespans. At an alarming rate that runs roughly seven times faster than people time, I can’t say I entirely disagree. Man’s best friend shouldn’t get taken away from man any sooner than both parties are ready. But would we really ever be ready?

I wondered this today as I caught my mom indulging in what she admits is guilty pleasure entertainment. From witches and warlocks to dragons and vampires, all things supernatural have become very popular lately in literature, television, and movies. And while my mom tends to side with vampires (more often than not) on their seemingly endless mythical feud with werewolves, I can’t say I agree. This may not come as a surprise as I am obviously a (very distant) canine relative of sorts, but that is not my only rationale. Sure, vampires have immortality on their side, but from what I can tell living forever has its fair share of cons. I Choose Life

Artistic interpretations of vampire life continue to evolve over time, but the basics remain. And while it’s not always the case, many interpretations paint vivid portrayals of vampires who long for a chance to be human and live a normal human life. This leads me to believe immortality might not be all its cracked up to be. In contrast, werewolf life somehow strikes the perfect balance between natural and supernatural, allowing for a normal human life and (along with that) a susceptibility to death.

To me, death is just as important as life because it is our constant reminder to cherish what we have. I believe in the gift of each morning, living each day like it could be my last, and dancing like no one is watching. I believe in James Dean’s suggestion to “dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” None of that would remain a priority if I were miraculously granted immortality. And if it did, I can honestly say it would never be the same.

While I don’t necessarily disagree that a canine’s greatest fault is our short lifespan, I also can’t say I would change that if I was ever afforded the option. The truth is I don’t think anyone is ever really ready to lose a loved one. It doesn’t matter whether someone dies unexpectedly or inevitably loses a hard-fought battle with terminal illness. You’re never really ready. And neither way is easier on those left behind. But just as it is for people loved ones, the relationship between a person and his or her dog is priceless even after the dog moves on to doggie heaven. Just ask someone who has lost their best canine friend – those paw prints remain embedded on their heart forever. I’ll take that over immortality any day. That is my kind of forever.