Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Come Away With Me October 5, 2013

I’m no Mozart or Picasso, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a thing of beauty.

I see art when I step out the back door into one of my favorite places. Some would call it a backyard. I call it paradise. There are squirrels to chase, trees to lounge under, and (perhaps best of all) it’s all mine.

And it doesn’t matter where I am in the house – it is music to my ears when my treat jar gets opened. That, or a treat bag, or the bag with my rawhides in it. Or the door where my people keep my leash. Forget Canon in D. I’ll take the sound that signifies impending adventure over that piano music any day.Come Away With Me

Until today. Today music and art combined into it’s own fabulous kind of symphony I will forever hold dear to my little doggie heart.

It began as it usually does. “Wiley up,” mom said before she picked me up for a dance around the kitchen. It was the first time we’ve done this since she’s been pregnant and I didn’t realize I kind of missed it. Her and I dancing like ninnies to Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me.” I know we looked absolutely ridiculous and I didn’t care.

So you can imagine my surprise at what happened next. Dad caught us. And he didn’t hesitate. Instead he came away with us. And I’m sure we looked even more silly-the three of us clumsily clamoring around in the small space. But none of it mattered because in that moment we were away together in a happy place. I didn’t think things could get any better (especially within only 3 minutes and 18 seconds of the song), but they did.

Beauty. It’s all around us in various forms. I see it in all kinds of places. I hear it in all sorts of ways. And today it took me away. Just as Norah sang the words “come away with me and I’ll never stop loving you,” mom interjected to point out the baby could hear the music. “And baby is dancing right now too,” she said.

So there we were – the four of us. My forever family. As art and music collided in its harmonious symphony, I mentally confirmed what I already knew to be truth. I would come away with them anywhere.

 

Joy To The World June 1, 2013

I caught my mom listening to Christmas music today. There it was mixed in with the normal tunes of Phillip Phillips, Dido and Norah Jones. There’s no place like home (for the holidays). Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Sleigh Ride. I’ll Be Home for Christmas. That’s right, folks, all the classics joined the Christmas party. In June.Merry Christmas in June!

At first I was concerned, and thought perhaps she was confused by the really long winter/non-existent spring we’ve had around here. But we’ve had our fair share of randomly beautiful days too, so that couldn’t be it. My next thought was that something must be wrong at that place called work. But her job changed for the better a few months ago and the result was a much happier (not to mention more well-rested) version of herself. So it can’t be that. In my little doggie mind, I found myself making a mental checklist of anything else that might be awry with her, and nothing made sense.

That’s when I realized I was breaking one of my cardinal rules. Your resident optimistic pooch was assuming the negative before considering the positive. Maybe nothing is wrong at all, I realized. Maybe the music is actually reflective of her joyful mood.

At second glance, there is a way about her that exudes happiness as she hums along. Fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la! (Silly me, thinking the worst.) I’m not sure what’s got her so giddy, but I sure do like seeing her this way. That’s got to be among my favorite things about joy: it’s so contagious. It may not be wrapped up in pretty paper and bows, but it doesn’t need to be. She’s happy, so I’m happy, so I’m sharing it with you. Merry Christmas in June.

 

If I Were a Painter April 6, 2013

Every person I encounter adds an inexplicable brush of color to my own personal sketchbook of life. I’ve always been better with words than with art, but I aspire to be better at all things I love. “Today you might want to cast your net for inspiration and consider forming a circle of kindred spirits,” Sarah Ban Breathanch writes in Simple Abundance.

If I Were A PainterHow lucky I am have such a wide variety of colorful characters in the blogosphere to inspire me on a daily basis. I find my inspiration in the blogs around me that encourage a sense of exploration and adventure.

“Since I was a wee baby boat cat I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited aboard lots,” wrote Bailey Boat cat this morning. “I love exploring!”

Later in the day, I was surprised to see a message of hope from the Happy Hugger, who quoted a powerful one-liner about learning from mistakes but not forgetting what led you to that point.

Whether I’m out exploring, or learning from my mistakes, it’s a good day to be a painter by spirit. My little doggie eyes and mind may only see a few colors in the spectrum but even I can see the need for color in a day like today. Color isn’t always an easy thing to see in an otherwise grey world, especially when you’re eyes are designed only for seeing a select few colors in the spectrum.

However I would argue that (like with anything) if your sight is limited, you are (at the very least) granted the gift of gratitude for what you have rather then dwelling on what you don’t. You are given a paintbrush of the mind to make your own backdrop for what you believe. If I were a painter, I would take a page from the sketchbook and songbook of singer-songwriter Norah Jones, who would paint her reverie in appreciation of time with her loved ones.

Tonight, my messages of luck, exploration and learning come together in the one and only line in the blog from a diplomatic yet artistic canine soul who quotes Walter Miller’s thought that “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body, temporarily.” With my body I choose to appreciate color whenever I’m afforded the chance to do so. And if, for some reason, color isn’t part of my landscape, I paint it myself.

 

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching January 26, 2013

I may not know the waltz, the fox trot or the samba, but I sure can dance. My mom and I have this (semi-secret) routine that (almost never) involves anyone but us.

“Up, Wiley,” is my signal the dance is about to start. And the next thing I know, I’m up in my mom’s arms and we are swaying together to anything from Norah Jones to Bob Dylan. We truly are dancing like no one’s watching. And I love it. For those three or four minutes, all is well in the world. My mom is happy, I’m happy, and (as a believer in the contagion that is happiness) I could not ask for anything better than that.

2013-01-26 20.57.00

Up, down, or sideways, music moves me. Lyrics lull me into happier places, mourn with me in darker places, and inspire me to be better, write better, and live better. From Bette Midler to Phillip Phillips, words find their prophetically poetic home amidst the strum of guitar chords and harmonious tinkling of piano keys.

I find moments of solace in these things. My journey within begins here.

“I fall into a sacred rage to escape
the hells of the world made of puppets and fake
death wont be too far now the seeds in my heart start to awake
so all I can do is be the man that the Lord brought me to today
hold on to your life by love…”

Thank you Phillip Phillips for again bringing to lyrical life the ideas of Sarah Ban Breathnach, who speaks of the basic tools of holding on to life’s authenticity in Simple Abundance: “You need enough breathing space to allow your heart to ponder what is precious,” she writes. “Or perhaps you can let your imagination soar into the twilight where dreams first dwell.”

That is what music does for me, literally and figuratively. It offers me those precious moments with my mom dancing like a ninny with me all over the kitchen. And it offers me hope in harmony best illustrated in LeAnn Womack’s “I Hope You Dance.”

“I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake
But it’s worth making
Don’t let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Reconsider
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance.”

She took the words right out of my little doggie mouth.