Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Mr. Fancypants December 9, 2014

Some things in life really are unnecessary. Like pants (at least in my case). Yet I hear this phrase Mr. Fancypants thrown around and it gets me to thinking.

It happened again tonight when mom and dad had the television on as dear baby Carter ran around (you read that right, a few weeks into walking and he’s already starting to gallop). There was some show on about Hollywood people that was featuring their extravagant mansions. It  was barely a whisper, but I heard dad mutter under his breath something or another about hating those people for having what they have. Standing Strong

Mom must have heard it to, because she stopped what she was doing in the kitchen and asked him why. It’s a question he couldn’t really answer other than to admit there is a great deal of farce behind the jealousy that’s all to easy to fall into.

He talks frequently about winning the lottery, too. Like that will solve all of life’s problems. I know he means well, and I also know this is coming from me, one who does less than nothing to contribute to the bottom line around here, but I think it’s all a little ridiculous. And those mansions? Who needs 56,000 square feet on a 30-acre lot anyway? That’s just silliness.

I also know money doesn’t grow on trees. I know it’s hard-earned. But I realized something today as I thought about all of the unnecessary things in life. Even if I were to come into a fortune of some kind, what on Earth would I do with it? I don’t think I could ever pass as a Mr. Fancypants (or pull off pants in the first place). And I don’t know that I would want to. Instead, I feel like I would find ways to help show my gratitude to my forever family for giving me the best life a dog could ask for.

Beyond that, I think it’s important that no matter where a person falls on the fancypants ladder, there will always be someone with more and someone with less than you. Perspective. From the ground up, it’s a pretty powerful thing. Especially when it comes to this scary thing called greed.

“Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction,” suggested German social psychologist Erich Fromm. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather feel satisfied. I’d rather avoid being in a bottomless pit. I’d rather feel alive.


The Value of Happiness August 16, 2014

It happens all the time. And it has definitely intensified since the arrival of my dear puppy brother otherwise known as Carter. From time to time, I am overcome with the most terrifying reality that I am, by all intent and purpose, completely and utterly broke. I have nothing of value to my name other than my collection of collars, and even that isn’t (technically) mine. And in rare moments it bothers me.

Not at all because I need anything. My needs have nothing to do with it. I have all I really need in the love of my forever people. It’s their needs that get to me every now and then. There has been a general tightening of the proverbial purse strings around here lately, especially since Carter was born and mom scaled back her wages in exchange for being a bit more present in his (and by proxy my) life. Things are not dire by any means, but they are certainly not lush either.Backyard Happiness

And it’s tough from time to time. I might be your resident doggie optimist, but I have a very soft spot for a crying forever mom who says she feels like she can’t catch a break.

But almost as frequently as I long to have money enough to buy whatever my people want (let alone need), something happens to remind me it’s not all about that. I’ve said before that money can’t buy happiness. Well, today those words came to life right before my little doggie eyes.

Sure, money is tight. Grocery shopping has been scaled back from pricey markets to the bargain stores. Money has been borrowed from family members. Carter’s clothes are gently used instead of new. But there are moments every day that remind me it’s all more than okay.

Like today, when my beloved people brought home a swing that I think was borrowed from a friend of the family. This little piece of plastic didn’t cost anything at all, but you won’t believe what happened next. Dad hung it from a branch in one of the trees in my backyard paradise and magic happened. He strapped my dear puppy brother in nice and tight and what happened next was music to everyone’s ears. Laughter. From the ground up, I don’t know if there is anything more contagious than a baby’s laughter. It made mom laugh. It made dad laugh. Heck, if I could laugh I would have been giggling right along with them.

It brought into focus this thing about money I’ve always known but needed a reminder of today. Because it happens all the time. I find myself feeling terribly guilty that I can’t contribute more to the bottom line around here. I am, indeed, as broke as they come. But, like most things in life, it’s not really about that. Money is money. It’s not happiness. I’m broke but I’m happy. And I wouldn’t even call what happened today a silver lining because in reality this happiness in its purest form is more priceless than gold.

Want to see Carter’s first swing experience?




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.”


A Shower of Gold October 9, 2013

Sometimes I want it. Badly. Other times I’m overcome with relief that I never really have to worry about it. This thing called money offers me a variety of emotional responses. Lately I’ve been struggling with the realization that while I am blessed not to have to worry about it, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Instead my people worry about it. A lot.

Money, money money. It used to come up occasionally, but the frequency has increased lately as preparations continue for my new little person. And its never really a happy conversation. Not that there is arguing or fighting, but us canines have a sense for things like stress and tension.Its just money

It happened again today. I overheard them talking about it and I was overcome with longing. I wanted money. I wanted to buy them all the nice things for the little person they keep talking about like a travel system (whatever that is) and a mobile for the crib. I wanted to give them everything they think they want.

But that’s just it. Wants are not always needs. And needs are not always wants. It sure would be nice if I somehow had all kinds of money to spend on these things. But that’s all they are – things. Just things. Things don’t create happiness, no matter how necessary they seem. Moments of real joy begin in the heart, not the mind.

I was reminded of this tonight as mom and I took a quick walk around the neighborhood right as the sun was setting. It made for a beautiful scene, with the sun shining through the trees as the leaves fell peacefully along our path. And I realized in those precious moments there is this thing about beauty – its completely free. And (even better) it often buys happiness. And joy. And gratitude.

“Here we are sitting in a shower of gold,” observed Australian writer Christia Stead, “with nothing to hold up but a pitchfork.”

It seems I’ve gotten it all wrong. I don’t want money. I want my people’s worry to go away. I want them to see the beauty in all things like I do and feel the sense of emotional richness that brings. I want them to be happy. These wants are really needs in my book. So today I renew my vow to do my small part to highlight these things in our lives, starting with my people. Because I know my heart contains within it its very own shower of gold.


Such A Loney Word August 4, 2013

I think it’s called nesting. And apparently it’s normal. But I have to admit, the way my people are acting this weekend has thrown me for a loop. It reminds me of that Saturday a couple of months ago when they moved around all the furniture. Except now instead of moving things around, they can’t stop talking about all this new stuff.

Crib, changing table, pack and play…I’ve never heard of any of these things before recently. Yet I’ve managed to gather that a crib is like my doggie bed, changing table is like outside, and a pack and play sounds like a place I can’t wait to investigate. Not to mention the conversations about all of these things seem to get mom and dad pretty excited. I can hear it in their voices, see it in their eyes and even feel it in their heartbeats. They are thrilled, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it all. Dont Worry, Be Happy

So I didn’t care much for the direction of the conversation today when they got back from a place called Babies ‘R Us. All of the excitement had been replaced with fear and apprehension. About being good parents. About giving the baby everything. About money. Whether our forever home is big enough. They weren’t exactly fighting, but the conversation still made me uncomfortable.

As usual, I wished I could interrupt to remind them of how blessed we are to have each other. To have a roof over our heads. To be alive.

They got there on their own eventually but it felt like it took forever. It’s all relative, dad said. The more you make, the more you pay for things. It goes both ways. And jealousy never does anyone any good. It’s a very lonely word that doesn’t merit any emotional energy. Not when we’re blessed with so much already.

“It is not love that is blind, but jealousy,” British novelist and poet Lawrence Durrell suggested. Well, fortunately for all of us the cloud of blindness has been lifted as the conversation returned to things like cribs, changing tables and pack and plays. I guess it’s called nesting. And (even though it all sounds a bit like a foreign language to me right now) it’s music to my little doggie ears.


Money Can’t Buy Happiness January 12, 2013

Its just moneyThey say money doesn’t grow on trees. Seems pretty obvious to me.

If there is one thing I’ve heard a lot of people argue about its this money thing. There never seems to be enough of it. Then there’s this whole fiscal cliff thing that was going to happen, then didn’t happen, but people aren’t sure whether it still might happen or how it will affect them whether or not it happens. It all sounds like a bunch of hooey to me. My perception on the matter is that regardless of what happens, it ultimately will not affect the underlying problem that money does not buy happiness.

I think a very insightful lesson can be learned from a dog’s perspective on money. As one who has always been at the complete mercy of people with or without money to spend on me, I know I can’t fullyWhat would I spend this on? understand what this whole money debacle is all about. I’ve gone from scavenging for food on the streets, to eating the donated food at the shelter, to eating some pretty darned yummy stuff in my forever home. I know food isn’t free. I get lots of neat toys and chews and even bones that clean my teeth. Today my parents came home from the store with these surprisingly yummy things they kept calling joint vitamins shaped like little bones. I ate mine up as soon as I could. I know toys, chews and vitamins aren’t free. Everything costs something.

While nice to have, none of these things define happiness for me. The things are just things. Sure, the resulting smiles of mom and dad when we play with Mrs. Prickles or Flea are pretty great. Yes, its nice to have people like me just a little bit more because I don’t have the typical “dog breath” (which I’ve heard can be quite stinky). And (of course) its nice not to have to scavenge the streets for yummy food. But the thing is we could be playing with a blanket or a piece of cardboard and have just as good a time. I’d still get along well with people if I had stinky breath. And I could (probably) survive on most normal doggie diets sans joint vitamins.

Simple Abundance got me to thinking about this today, which is ironic since I noticed mom was counting some money on the bed (which I instantly viewed as a comfy new place to lay down), and I could tell by the look on her face that this money is pretty special. It is what she calls “adventure” money, hidden away in dad’s watch box. From what I can tell, this adventure money is used by mom and dad to go to exciting places with (or without) me like camping or this spa place mom likes called Sundara. But its still not this adventure money that buys happiness. Its the moments. Its the memories from the moments. Moments and memories that create “happy places” for mom and dad to reflect on when things seem otherwise gloomy.

It seems ironic to me that money – this thing that is supposed to provide all these amazing things in life – can be rightfully referred to by Breathnach as a “dark, menacing shadow” for people.

Man, have I got it good. Perhaps a dog’s way is one of the best ways to look at money…as a special (above the ordinary) gift…even if it doesn’t grow on trees. While I’ve never quite made sense of the money on trees concept, there is one frame of mind I firmly believe can be derived from life. Money can’t buy happiness. Simple as that.Doesn't Buy Happiness