Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

At Face Value November 13, 2014

It’s a long way away, but I have decided what I would like to dress up as for Halloween next year. It’s something honorable, something I wish I could be in real life sometimes. Plus, it involves black and white stripes, which is a bonus for me (as long as it doesn’t involve jail). For Halloween next year I would like to be a referee.

I say this because it would bring to light something I’ve often felt about the beloved people in my life. I spend a lot of time observing what happens around me, so over the course of my life I have come to know a few distinct truths about human interaction.

It’s messy. And complicated. And sometimes I think it would do better if there was someone to step in, intervene, and bring focus back to a conversation that veered so far off track that occasionally people can’t even remember why they started fighting in the first place. If I was a referee, I would do just that. I would remind people that whatever they are disagreeing about must not be as big a deal as it’s being construed as or they wouldn’t have all but forgotten it. I would remind to take words at face value rather than blowing things unnecessarily out of proportion. I would remind them they love each other.Alone with My Thoughts

Because it is indeed messy and complicated. But it’s also beautiful. I just wish it looked more like doggie communication sometimes. We love with our whole selves, no questions asked. Our world literally revolves around our people. They are number one, and we take everything they do at face value just as we deliver our love in its purest form.

But alas, I cannot speak. I can’t call a foul or push pause when I see a conversation go off track. At least not until I’m wearing my referee costume next Halloween. That’s when the magic is going to happen.

Advertisements
 

Bigger Than The Sky July 24, 2014

It happens around here more than once a day these days. Mom says to whomever might be listening that she loves him bigger than the sky. Dad smirks, Carter grins and I sigh a big old commitment to happiness when it happens. Music like “On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons Rescuedor “Us Against the World” by Coldplay is most likely playing when it happens, but not necessarily.

Regardless of the soundtrack that accompanies it, it would be challenging to assign a soundtrack to the summer of 2014. What I know for sure is music plays a very important role in dear baby Carter’s development. It’s as simple as that. Because sometimes things that mean the most are (in fact) that simple.

Take this summer, for example. It hasn’t exactly been the warmest or most beautiful summer in Wisconsin by any means. Yet it has, because of the joy that lights the sky around here. Mom is happier than I’ve ever seen her, which means dad is happier than I’ve ever seen him, which means I am one happy canine.

I usually don’t question when a good thing enters my life, but in this case I have. I want to know what is to thank for all of the joy around here lately. While I know a good deal of happiness comes right from dear baby Carter, I know in my heart there is more to it than that. Beauty is all around us this summer, and my life is no exception.

I know it for sure because mom keeps saying something she hasn’t before. I love you bigger than the sky. She says it to Carter and dad and me on a daily basis. And considering how very big the sky is, these words have come to mean an awful lot to me the last couple of months. Because it happens around here more than once a day these days. Mom says to whomever might be listening that she loves him bigger than the sky. And that is why I know hers is a true and mature love.

“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you,'” suggested German psychologist Erich Fromm. I would have to say I agree. I’m not certain what mom means when she says she love me bigger than the sky, but I am certain of how it makes me feel. I  am needed. And that makes me feel blessed bigger than the sky.

 

The Psychology of Science February 22, 2014

I can’t say I always agree with science. Chemistry is necessary, biology is interesting and physics completely confuses me. Given a choice of high school classes in which to enroll, I can’t say any science would be high on the priority list. Then there’s psychology. While some would argue its philosophical roots negate its scientific clout, I argue science is prevalent in its close examination of all things thoughtful.

Take this study done recently in Current Biology, for example. Scientists have uncovered the truth we canines know is so much more than science. Our brains contain within them sensory receptors for receiving and deciphering emotions in sounds. The study reports this is why we tend to respond to the unique emotional needs of our people in spite of our lack of English-speaking skills.Thinking

While I’m glad this is now scientifically confirmed, this is certainly not news to me. I know how my mind responds to unique emotional situations. I know because it happens all day every day in a dog’s life. Today I responded to love as my forever family cuddled together speaking in hushed tones (as not to wake baby Carter). I didn’t think. I cuddled. I paced nervously as baby Carter cried and cried when he accidentally scratched himself on the nose. I didn’t think. I cared. I sought immediate positive reinforcement when dad tripped and stepped on my paw in the process. I didn’t think. I loved.

“There are moments in life when the heart is so full of emotion that if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like a pebble drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secret, split on the ground like water, can never be gathered together,” penned American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

That’s the problem with science if you ask me. There’s not always enough room for emotion in things like chemistry or physics. And yet so much pressure is put on the “proof” that so many people need to see the science to believe. Let’s face it. While I am excited that science can now confirm what most dog owners already know, there is more to it than that. It’s more than a stimulus-response reaction. It’s more than a brain scan can show. Because really, it’s love.

 

Lonely Hearts Club February 4, 2014

I can’t say it’s anything I would want to do. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good piece of literature as much as the next dog, but not like this. I overheard mom today talking about joining a book club this year and I think I fell asleep at the thought.

Don't JudgeI can think of so many better ways for her to spend her time (like on walks with me, taking me to the dog park, or basically doing anything involving me) than at a book club. I had to talk myself back from this one though, since I respect that reading brings her joy. I want her to do things that make her happy, even if (gasp) they don’t all involve me.

But again my thoughts turned to that phrase about a book and its cover. A strong believer in the book (not so much in the cover), I’ve never been that big a fan of the expression. I’ve been called a lot of things based on my appearance – namely that I’m a mutt. Over time, I have come to see this as a term of endearment rather than anything derogatory because I know who I am and have confidence in myself.

Not everyone is that fortunate. I think a lot of people are really good at crafting a beautiful cover that doesn’t always match what is happening on the pages of their lives. Most heartbreakingly, my mind turns to those who surround themselves with people (in a crowded city, busy work environment or on frequent social outings). Sure, there are those that are truly happy. But sometimes it is these people, these friends of everyone, who are the most lonely of all.

If being an observer of two-leggers has taught me anything it’s that. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. You never know how lonely or happy or depressed or elated a person is based on what their exterior tells you. Because that cover might be just that – a cover for something completely different hiding inside.

Forget book club (sorry mom). People. From the ground up, they are the books I like reading.

 

A Baby Laughing January 22, 2014

I’ve never been too big a fan of mirrors. I know barking and cowering are fairly common canine responses to them, but I do neither of these things. Instead I feel nothing. Emotionally indifferent I guess you could say. In general I don’t particularly care for the effect I know they can have on people, especially women.

So I choose to direct my attention elsewhere. I prefer to find joy. From the ground up, it was easy to find today. It happened on my living room floor with my other baby pal Alexis (daughter of mom’s friend Jessica). There we were staring at each other when it happened. She laughed.

If joy had a sound, a baby laughing would be it. It’s not the first time I’ve experienced such things, but each time it happens teaches me a new lesson about true and sincere happiness.Joy.

Today it taught me joy doesn’t come from a mirror. It simply can’t. But if you reflect joy, if you put it out there in front of you, it is likely to reflect right back at you. I mean no disrespect to mirrors. They serve their purpose and that’s all well and good.

But I do think people place too much value on that reflection staring back at them. Dogs bark and cower. People get sad or frustrated. Me? I’m indifferent to the mirrors. I would much rather focus on the person than the reflection anyway.

See the action unfold: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=569872490057&l=334242941458658880

 

If I Were a Human December 28, 2013

I wonder sometimes what I would be like if I had two legs instead of four. If I walked amongst people as one of their own. If I could carry on a normal conversation instead of relying (almost) entirely on nonverbal communication.

In these thoughts I find I am not so concerned with what I look like (though I’m sure I’d be blonde haired and brown eyed) or what kind of clothes I would wear. I don’t think it would matter to me what kind of car I drove, or how big my house was. Would I? Money Can't Buy Love

I daydreamed today that I was human and won the lottery. And not just the $3 dad occasionally wins and splits with his work friends as part of their weekly lottery pool. I won big time. One billion dollars. What would I do with such winnings?

In my daydream, I bought everything my people ever wanted. That house in a better school district. Those fancy shoes mom is always lusting after. The Shelby Mustang dad dreams about. The honeymoon they never took. I bought it all and there was still plenty leftover to donate to some of my favorite charities (like the humane society and ISF) and invest in something that would produce enough income to allow mom to stay home with the little person. (Dad too, if he wanted).

As I daydreamed, my people were away dreaming a dream of their own. Dad has been on a mission to replace their cars with what he refers to as newer safer ones. Words like reliability and dependability seem to have gained a new level of importance now that the little person is on his or her way any day now. But upon returning home it didn’t take me long to see the disappointment in their faces. This dream can’t come true. Not right now.

And I found myself wondering again what I would be like with two legs instead of four. Would I need the lottery and all the fancy things it could provide? Or would I prefer to earn an honest living as a struggling author who volunteers at the local animal shelter on the weekends?

I’m quite certain there is no right answer. And all of this is made much more complicated by my overall lack of understanding of how the whole money thing even works. I don’t know what I would be like if I were human any more than my people know what it would be like to win the lottery. And tonight as we three musketeers settled in together to watch a movie I realized that’s okay. Because we’re happy this way.

Besides, “greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction,” suggested German psychologist Erich Fromm. It doesn’t matter whether I have two legs or four. I’d much rather live life happy than in endless pursuit. Keep your money, bottomless pit. It’s happiness I choose.

 

Survival in the Real World December 14, 2013

It’s a pretty crazy world out there. Yesterday was Friday the 13th and (though neither of them believe in the meaning of such things), both my mom and dad came home regaling a series of unfortunate events involving unexpectedly odd amounts of crazy. Their stories were incredibly different, yet one thing bound them together. Negativity. Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough heart to practice common courtesy around others.

Going Somewhere?Mom would never have expected that nicely dressed elderly woman to literally push another woman out of the way over a bar of luxury bath soap. But it happened. Dad didn’t believe his eyes when he witnessed a near hit-and-run accident in the parking lot over a spot that was literally five feet away from the next closest spot. Wherever that person was going sure must have been important.

Regardless of the source, this negativity thing is like it’s very own breed of pollution. Its own unique type of noise that keeps us from hearing the music. And it sneaks up on you in the oddest of ways to tear away at your resolve. To bring you down. And ultimately to make you weak. It’s all so frustrating to me. I would much rather be strong. And I can be, when I am armed with the most powerful weapon.

Optimism keeps me strong. As milk is to bones, optimism is to my soul. So when I think about what can be done to reverse the pollution in our society, I think it comes down to us. The fighters. The people who resolve to retain a positive outlook amidst life’s most challenging curve balls.

“Negativity is an addiction to the bleak shadow that lingers around every human form,” proposed Irish poet John O’Donohue. “You can transfigure negativity by turning it toward the light of your soul.”

It can be pretty crazy out there. It’s enough to make me second guess my occasional bitterness that I am not allowed to accompany my people to literally everywhere outside our forever home. But negativity has no place in my home, nor out there in the world. Because the real world is what we make it, not what it tells us it should be.