Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

If At First You Don’t Succeed January 27, 2015

Persistence. Determination. Strength. From the ground up, these are some big-picture words in my world. They get you through the valleys and up to the mountains. They push you to the limit. I’ve always been a believer in the British writer W. E. Hickson’s words “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

It’s a simple thought. And I think it applies to a lot of challenging situations. We all encounter hurdles on our journey through life, and we all fall from time to time. In the short-term, it might be the best thing to do. Happiness.

But in the long-term, I wonder sometimes if it’s really always best to try, try again. Life happens in ways we can’t anticipate sometimes, and I think there can be hurdles that seem to multiply before our eyes.

That was the case for my dear forever mom today. In itself, there was nothing that out of the ordinary that happened. After an incredibly productive morning, her presentation for work this afternoon went off without a hitch. She managed to keep a group of more than 60 middle school students entertained for a half hour immediately following their lunch break. I’d say that is a feat in itself. Everything was great.

Then it happened. Somewhere between answering her work phone for the nineteenth time in a row while finishing up the story she was working on and keeping an eye on the mashed potatoes on the stovetop and trying not to overcook the pork roast in the oven and cleaning up after Carter as he decorated the kitchen floor with pots, pans, lids and tupperware containers and ultimately carrying Carter as she danced around the kitchen because he simply could not stand to be on the floor one more second, she lost it.

Not because of any one thing in particular. The snuggle time from Carter was actually kind of nice. But the sum of the parts got to her in a way I know it wouldn’t have if she weren’t 20 weeks pregnant. She’s firing full speed ahead as if nothing were different, but the truth is it’s starting to catch up with her.

And that’s okay.

It was okay to let that one last phone call go to voicemail. It was okay to save that story to finish for tomorrow. It was okay that dad ran to get takeout because the potatoes somehow got overcooked and the pork was undercooked. It was okay that (for once) the kitchen and rest of the house were a complete mess when dad got home from that place called work. It was okay.

Because persistence, determination and strength can only take us so far sometimes. Limits are real, and need to be respected for a reason. If at first you don’t succeed, it’s okay to try again tomorrow instead of today. In some cases it’s better.

Like today, when dad finally convinced mom to just stop. To take a breath. And sit down. And snuggle dear Carter. And tomorrow we will try, try again.

 

Never Gonna Keep Me Down November 29, 2014

It started so very small. A couple of baby steps a few weeks ago was all it took to get the proverbial ball rolling. Each day since then, the steps have gotten bigger and gone farther, as they tend to do with practice. Meanwhile, I stand by and watch it all unfold.

It can only be described as persistence. Or maybe stubbornness. What I’ve been witnessing around here is truly a study in little person behavior. It’s nothing new, as I know it happens to most babies. But it’s new to me, and what I’m learning from watching it all unfold is surprisingly insightful.Feeling Thoughtful

What stands out to me most prominently is how much trial and error is involved in the process of dear baby Carter learning how to walk. He has these unmistakable bursts of energy when all he does is walk. And fall. And walk. And fall. The process is one that has involved as many falls as it has steps, which I’d like to say are getting easier for all of us to see. But really it’s still hard to stand on the sidelines, fully capable of walking, and watch this dear little being struggle so desperately.

Especially today, when the poor little guy just couldn’t catch a break. Sure, he walked farther than he did yesterday. But he fell too. A lot. And he kept bumping his little head on things as he did it. Nothing scary enough to worry about, but I’m not going to lie to you. It was pretty tough to see.

What there is to be learned from all of this, though, is no small feat. First of all, starting small and building slowly is a recipe for both short- and long-term success in my book. Beyond that, persistence is virtue. He gets knocked down, he falls out of balance, he stumbles. We all do. But he gets back up every single time. No matter what. And he keeps going.

Life has a way of tripping us up from time to time. Making us lose our footing. Maybe even causing us to call into questions choices or decisions we’ve made. The way I see it, none of this happens without a cause. A good one. Perseverance. From the ground up, that is the word I would use to summarize what I’ve been witnessing around here.

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish,” said American president John Quincy Adams. While I have mixed feelings about patience, I do believe in the power of perseverance. That’s why I know in my heart Carter will soon be walking without an issue. Challenges will never stop getting in the way, but with enough passion and drive they don’t stand a chance.

 

To Be Loved October 23, 2014

It took a the better part of a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal. And patience, lots and lots of patience. Oh, and I guess there was some laying on the ground involved, too (though that doesn’t sound so bad to me). After all of this, a dog named Cricket now knows how it feels to be loved.

About a week ago, I shared a story of a hero of mine named Emily, who took a good deal of time out of her life to rescue two stray dogs in her neighborhood in Dallas, Texas. A patriot for rescue dogs, she over the span of a couple of weeks personally took on the emotionally tasking job of reeling in the dogs, who she named Dallas and Cricket. It wasn’t easy for Emily or the dogs, as she worked diligently to earn their trust.Feeling thoughtful

It was easier for Dallas, who only took a few days before he recognized her as the hero she is. Cricket was a bit more stubborn. Because of my own personal experiences with the man with the leather belt, I know all too well some possible reasons for her hesitation. I don’t blame her one bit.

But I also know the love of a person. I know how warm my heart feels when I snuggle with my forever family. I know joy, from the ground up. I live these things each and every day because someone like Emily took the time to do the same for me.

So it is with the sincerest sense of glee that I report the good news. It took four Chicken McNuggets. And patience. And even some time laying on the pavement (which apparently is something people don’t usually do). But dear Emily earned Cricket’s trust a few days after she did the same for Dallas. And now both are together again at a fabulous place called ARROW Dog Rescue, on the path to being adopted into forever homes.

Persistence is a very powerful thing on its own. Combine it with passion? You’ve got a recipe for success. Or, at least in this case, you’ve got a recipe for a fresh start for two very fortunate dogs. Especially in the technological age of all things text message and Snapchat, it is so important to reach out to others because you never know who will reach back. And to me, it’s a lesson not only in selflessness, but in the importance of staying true to your beliefs. Staying true to yourself. Fighting for what’s important. It’s a lesson in not just living life, but making it a better place to be.