Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Dive Right In September 18, 2013

Water. I know it’s necessary for living. And for staying clean. But I just can’t understand why anyone (human or canine) would choose to spend any given amount of time immersed in water. My mom likes swimming in it, and I know there are certain breeds of dogs who love retrieving things from it, but the concept is one that just doesn’t make any sense to me.   In the Deep End

I can’t say I have a good reason for my opinion. It’s not like I ever had a bad experience that now haunts me or anything like that. I just don’t like it. But I do think there is something to be learned from the practice of swimming so maybe it’s not all bad. I got to thinking about this tonight after mom got home very much later than usual from that place called work. Apparently she spent the day at meetings listening to various people talk about all things interesting that relate to her job. Some speakers were more poignant than others, she told dad, which made for a long day. (She’s telling me! I hate when she gets home so late…talk about a long day!)

From what I’ve heard, public speaking is one of those things more people dislike than like. Kind of like dogs and water. As I thought about it, something unites these two seemingly unrelated opinions: fear. One of my very least favorite emotions. It’s right up on my list of disliked emotions with timid, anxious and shy. No one I know would use these words to describe me, but that wasn’t always the case.

Fear is debilitating. It commands our attention and directs our actions. And I say this as one who used to live in fear of a variety of things. I feared no one would ever love me. I feared the man with the leather belt. I feared and it consumed me. But I can say with confidence it consumes me no longer. My optimism has brought me to a place in life where I make it a goal to bring fears to purpose. And sometimes the only way to do this is to dive right in. Head first, or heart first, depending on how you look at it.

“Courage is a peculiar kind of fear,” suggests British politician Charles Kennedy. Water may not be my favorite thing in the world. And I think public speaking is one of the most common fears people have. But something can be learned from the concept of diving in as a means of facing our fears. It takes courage to bring our fears to purpose in life. Dive on in – the water is warm.

 

 

 

The Underpants Trick July 24, 2013

It’s absurd really. But I’ve heard there’s this trick to help people feel less scared of public speaking. Apparently the secret to quelling the fear is for the speaker to picture the audience in their underpants. Or (worse yet) naked. As a thinker of the canine variety, you can imagine my confusion at this alleged psychological strategy. In general, us dogs do wander around naked after all. And I know public speaking is among the most common of people fears, but that too is a head scratcher to me.

All things tangible are among a dog’s greatest fears.Standing Strong Sure, we have our obvious emotional fears – the greatest of which is losing our beloved people. Beyond that, it’s physical things we can touch and feel we fear most. I used to fear people hands and the damage they can do. And leather belts. And going hungry.

I know it’s different for people. It’s my understanding that public speaking is among the most common people fears, right along with fear of the unknown, fear of the future, and fear of change. Fear. In itself its a scary thing. And powerful in all the wrong ways. It can be debilitating, and (worst of all) it is incredibly contagious. So it’s safe to say I fear fear. I live and breathe the words of American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt who challenged “the only thing to fear is fear itself.”

I know its easier said than done, but I think there is something to be said for taking on this philosophy. With heavy hitter fears like fear of the unknown knocking at our psyches, it’s no wonder times are scary. But even in the most uncertain of times, one thing is certain. Change is imminent. The future will come. And it will bring with it the unknown.

Sadly, even picturing the people around you in their underpants (or naked) won’t change these truths. One hundred years can pass and these same basic fears will remain. But its not hopeless. I no longer fear people hands, leather belts, or going hungry because I’ve made the conscious decision not to fear fear. Fear will not be the master of me. Instead, I find comfort in knowing that some things will never change. Sure, the future is scary. The unknown can feel like a rickety bridge over the grand canyon when all you can see is fog. Change isn’t anyone’s favorite thing. But faith is the antidote to fear.

As Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran suggested, “doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” I know it looks different to everyone, but faith in its simplest form is even more powerful than the negativity of fear. It is unchanging, steady, and offers a light powerful enough to clear the fog away from the bridge. Forget the underpants trick. I’d rather have faith.