Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Bless You! Learning from Life’s Sneezes February 5, 2013

I react pretty noticeably when my mom sneezes. First of all, its no quiet matter. It is a loud and intrusive sound that occasionally reverberates off the walls of our home. So when she sneezes, I run to her (regardless of where I am in the house) and sniff around her face a bit. I want to know what’s going on…I want to make sure she’s okay.

Jumping for Perspective

I heard once that when people sneeze, their spirit temporarily leaves their body. That is apparently why person two emphatically says “bless you” to person one; to ensure person one’s spirit returns safely to his or her body.

Initially, my reaction to this concept was incredibly negative. I hated the thought of a person losing their spirit for even a second. But the more I thought about it, I realized there could be something gained from that out-of-body perspective.

Like myself, transcendentalist poet e. e. cummings placed a high value on the kind of self awareness one can gain from perspective.

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit,” he wrote. Human and doggie alike, I believe something can be learned from everything. So perhaps life affords us with sneezes to force us to take a moment to reflect.

Sarah Ban Breathnach speaks of reclaiming our future in such moments of reflection in Simple Abundance.

“Today, deliberately turn away from the world,” Breathnach writes. “Absorb the shock of becoming aware that many of your preferences and opinions are not really your own. Begin, instead, to listen for the whisper of your authentic self telling you which way to go.”

Granted, a sneeze is hardly a whisper, but the concept of understanding our own authentic spirit better by turning away from distraction might take more than a whisper. Heck, for some people I know, it takes a full out, reverberating sneeze to pull away from the television, cell phone, computer, or whatever other bright shiny object grabs our attention next.

“Only when the clamor of the outside world is silenced will you be able to hear the deeper vibration,” Breathnach writes. “Listen carefully. Spirit’s playing your song.”

What do you hear?

Today’s post is dedicated to my dad. He has requested his picture not be used in the production of this blog, but that doesn’t mean I can’t say how very many pictures there would be to chose from. They all have a special place in my heart. Happy Birthday dad!

 

Today I’m a Trombone Player January 16, 2013

Like many of us, Henry David Thoreau wore many hats. Writer. Poet. Historian. Naturalist. Philosopher. Most people can (and do) juggle that many titles all the time. So what made him great? Why is he one of the most respected and influential historical philosophers? Regardless of the role he played, his foundational belief system made up his spirit. His spirit enabled him with the resources to produce quality over quantity.

“All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours’ toil,” Thoreau observed. “The fight to the finish spirit is the one… characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers.”

I overheard mom and dad talking tonight about what makes me unique. After a moment’s pause, dad said it’s my spirit he loves most. I see that as a very high compliment.

Merriam-Webster defines “spirit” as “an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms.” While I would argue that I wear more than one unique personality hat, dad’s comment made my day. What a blessing it is that my spirit literally gives life to me every day, but more importantly, because it gives figurative life to those around me. My spirit is contagious. I say this with confidence because I smile with my tail most of the time, and find that smiling can be incredibly contagious. I get so excited to see visitors that I often jump up to greet them. I know its naughty, but its a way I share my joy, and (nine times out of ten), the visitor catches the joy bug.

Smile! You know you want to!

That got me to thinking about Thoreau, a philosopher whose simple belief in the inherent good in nature and people I wholeheartedly share. I find peace through a transcendental state of mind, and when I’m at peace I can most effectively share joy with the world. Oddly enough, I find that sometimes I spend so much time focusing on exterior locus’ of affection, love, and joy that I struggle to see it in myself. It’s so much easier to be self deprecating than to pause and toot your own horn every once in a while. So, just for today, call me a trombone player.

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