Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Day in “Our Town” January 10, 2013

I do a lot of thinking about my future. Where I want to go, who I want to meet, what I want to accomplish.

Among my most exciting destinations are the warm sandy beaches of North Carolina and the rocky river trails in Tennessee. I’d really love to pick the brains of doggie stars like the ones in the Ceasar dog food and Traveler’s life insurance commercials. And I aspire to have my words touch the hearts and minds of canines and people all over the world.

But today I was reminded that could all be taken away from me in the blink of an eye.

“Dogs’ lives are too short,” turn-of-the century American writer Agnes Sligh Turnbull said. “Their only fault, really.”

While I appreciate Turnbull’s sentiment, its a stark reminder that our time on Earth is limited. We should live each day as if it were our last and all that. Most importantly, we are to notice the little things about even the most seemingly unimportant of days and cherish every moment before its gone…a lesson learned from Thorton Wilder‘s character Emily in “Our Town.The Blink of An Eye

After dying in childbirth, Emily longs for even the most mundane parts of what was so boringly familiar to her in life. She has an epiphany when she finds joy in the moments she used to take for granted. I’ve always found the story a bit depressing, like a snapshot of something too painful to think about.

Thinking it over today made me realize its important to occasionally think about the painful things. Its not easy for me, so for inspiration I turn to a singer-songwriter starlet from whom I am not to embarrassed to say I have received a great deal of emotional education – the dearly beloved Bette Midler.

“I always try to balance the light with the heavy,” she said, “a few tears of human spirit in with the sequins and the fringes.” I know I can’t see color, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate sequins and fringes. Tears, on the other hand, I avoid at all costs. It’s Bette’s kind of balance I need.

All of my time spent in the future is keeping me from enjoying parts of the present and almost completely suppressing the past. As it turns out, that’s no way to get to the future after all.