Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Peace on Earth December 24, 2014

It is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. It is not the absence of war, (but rather) a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice. It begins with a smile.

Peace. From the ground up, minds filled with a lot more wisdom than mind have a few things to say about it. Like civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. And Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza. And Catholic visionary Mother Theresa.20141224_170645

Like joy, I know peace takes many forms. It looks different to everyone depending on his or her life experiences and overall perspective on the world around them. It’s Christmas Eve around here, and though we don’t have any snow (an incredibly unusual occurrence in Wisconsin this time of year) on the ground, celebrations are in high gear.

But I can’t help but think about what happens in a couple days. After all the ribbons and bows are torn from their presents. After the holly jolly music has fled the airwaves. After the turkeys and hams and other holiday goodies are all long gone. Trees and decorations get put away, and a big empty hole can stand in its place.

It all brings to mind the words of Buddha, who suggested “peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

I hear it in the stillness of snowflakes falling around me in my backyard paradise. I feel it in my heart when my forever family is together and happy. I see it in smiles and laughter. I find peace all around me, and I know it is because it starts in my heart.

This may seem to many like a time of year for embracing all things worldly, but to me it’s just as important to remember where it all starts. The reason for the season. The love and joy and peace and all things holly and jolly. The life this season is capable of breathing into our souls is like no other.

Like the thinkers who are wiser than me suggested, it is how we arrive at a goal. It is a state of mind that can present itself in something as simple as a smile. And, as Mahatma Gandhi said, it “is its own reward.”

So from my little family to yours, I wish you a very Merry (and peaceful) Christmas.

 

All the Small Things April 28, 2013

I figured it out! I know what we have to do. World peace is at our fingertips people! All we have to do is hug one another. All right, all right, I know I’m likely not the first one to throw this theory on the table, but please hear me out. The power is in the numbers.

Today I enjoyed 76 different petting sessions, made close to 20 people smile at least once, and spent more time being hugged and played with than by myself. That, my friends, is a good day. I’m certain I didn’t make anyone’s problems disappear, but peace was in the air in my favorite kind of way today.Small Smiles Make A Big Difference

All kidding aside, my experience today led me to wonder what the world would be like if we all committed to the theory to kill our enemies with kindness rather than violence. Perhaps one of the reasons the world is in the state it’s in is that people have stopped caring for each other. Something as small as a smile can make the day of the stranger on the street or a hug to somehow that just lived through an embarrassing moment. But not everyone chooses to engage in such the small things that make the world go round. It makes me squirm sometimes when people miss opportunities to bring light to the lives of others.

Again, I turn my simple mind to the simplicity of the minds of the little people in my life, who never cease to educate me. The best kinds of children’s entertainment are put together by people as wise as the little people they inspire. American writer Shel Silverstein is no exception to this rule, with his powerful poetry that speaks to the heart as well as the mind.

“I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war,” Silverstein wrote. “Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.”

In retrospect, I won some pretty easy battles today. I was surrounded by family who have a culture drenched in love for each other. The same isn’t always true in an average day, and those are the days to make it count. Hugs and smiles probably won’t solve the problems of the world, but all the small things aren’t so small to me. So today I share my 76 petting sessions, more than 20 smiles and all of my hugs with the world in hopes that my small contribution makes a difference.

“Be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies,” Mother Theresa once said. It’s our world…why not make it shine?