Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Best Laid Plans July 19, 2013

I don’t care for flies. I don’t like when I can’t catch them buzzing around the walls of my forever home. I don’t like them when I do catch them and they buzz around in my tummy. The way I see it, they are useful in one (and only one) way. Metaphorically speaking, flies on the wall get all the great information before it hits the public presses. Granted, I see this as a gross exaggeration of their microscopic brain capacity, but the theory is sound.

Dog on the WallI would argue instead that dogs are the ultimate flies on the wall. We see and hear things. But more importantly we understand things. We’re man’s best friend, after all. So when it comes to understanding my people, I am your resident dog on the wall. As such, I have come to recognize certain patterns of conversation that lead nowhere fast. And I can say this because I love her more than she will ever know. My mom tends to put far too high a stake in things sometimes.

She looks forward to something, plans it all out in her head, and when it doesn’t work out — if it doesn’t go according to plan — it’s a complete disaster to her. It’s all very confusing to dad, who generally tries to make the best of a sticky situation. Unfortunately for the both of us, best laid plans don’t always come together and there is little we can do to fix it.

It turns out you were right. My mom absolutely missed me as much as I missed her while she was away at that place called the spa earlier this week. She missed me so much she came home the same day she left! Well, that’s not entirely true. Health issues brought her home early, and I was ecstatic (albeit sincerely concerned). But what made my day may as well been a weapon of mass destruction on hers. She clearly felt incredibly ill, but moreover there was simply no cheering her up. I tried all of my tricks. I jumped and licked and wagged and jumped some more. Nothing.

Fortunately I’ve been in the business of being the dog on the wall long enough to know this too shall pass. And it did. But it got me to thinking about the best laid plans that don’t work out. Because let’s face it – things do not always go exactly according to plan. And yes, it sucks. It’s disappointing. But these things happen and it is not the end of the world. “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment,” suggested one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Henry David Thoreau.

I don’t care for flies, but I sure do like their job of being on the wall. There’s lots to be learned from that perspective. I (for one) find my compensation in knowing even the best laid plans can go awry. It’s how we deal with the hurdles, how we find ways to be quiet and ready, that we grow.

 

The Pursuit of Happiness July 4, 2013

Disappointment. In a word, that is apparently how thousands of people who attended the 3rd of July fireworks in my hometown felt in response to the highly anticipated event. It was gloomy, foggy and cooler than anticipated for the spectators, the majority of whom had been holding their spots for the fireworks show as long as a couple of days. And after all that time waiting, the show was much more a feast for the ears than the eyes.

Silly FaceTonight the noise carries on as people celebrate Independence Day all over America. It’s a day set aside to remember the sacrifices that have been made for our freedoms, and (in turn) pause to recognize the anniversary of the birth of our independence. The day is laden with traditions, most of which have always involved parades, picnics and fireworks. In a dog’s life, that means a day filled with treats, treats, and more treats. (Watermelon anyone?)

Though I have to admit I have never particularly cared for the loud bangs and booms that accompany fireworks, I do believe wholeheartedly in what they represent. They are bright, colorful and vibrant as they create a beautiful masterpiece in the sky. Aglow with radiating light, spectators smile and laugh and bond with family in these precious moments. Memories are created that last forever.

Unfortunately for the thousands of people who attended the fireworks in my hometown yesterday, the memories aren’t very positive. It was certainly a show they’ll never forget, but not in a good way. This got me thinking about what today is really about. Freedom. Liberty. Sacrifice. The pursuit of happiness.

None of these are found in fireworks. In fact, the fireworks gone awry remind me a bit of our best laid plans that tend to skid off track sometimes. It’s frustrating. No one likes or appreciates the detour (while it’s happening at least). And for good reason. Valuable time and effort goes into planning something so it is upsetting when things don’t turn out. And we do love and embrace our traditions. But things don’t always turn out.

Disappointment. Thousands of people felt it four about an hour straight yesterday. It is in these moments, when we’re about to let that demon of negativity into our hearts and minds, that it is most important for us to make our own fireworks. To be our own fireworks. To bring light and smiles to those around us and (in turn) to ourselves.  Let’s start ourselves a new tradition of sharing the fireworks of joy this year. That way no one will even notice if the actual fireworks are a gloomy haze of nothingness.