Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

An Interview with My Incouragable Mentor May 15, 2013

Once-in-a-lifetime is the only (albeit lengthy) adjective I can think of to describe the opportunity I had in my daydream today.

I was sporting a doggie suit and tie (yes, they actually make those) but that wasn’t the unbelievable part. Sitting across from me was the one and only Marley. Mr. Incorrigible, Mr. Obedience School Drop-Out himself. But that’s not all! When I finally gathered my thoughts and opened my mouth, out came words! People words! (My voice was much deeper than I’d expected, too, so that was an added bonus.) This was truly a dream come true.

Marley and MeThe conversation didn’t last long (this was, after all, a daydream), but it meant the world to me regardless of it not being real. I asked him all about his escapades chewing the floors, jumping out of moving car windows, chasing down a baseball at Dodgers stadium, and causing all-out chaos at Dog Beach.

“I never did any of that for the attention or out of spite like I’m sure some people think,” he explained. “I did it to live life to the fullest. Looking back, I can say I did everything I wanted to with my doggie life. I have no regrets.”

His live-each-day-as-if-it-were-his-last outlook on life had a softer side too, in moments of extreme emotion in the Grogan home.

“I always knew when something was wrong,” he said. “I sometimes sensed it before it even happened. It is agony not being able to say anything to make it better, so I loved with all my heart in those moments and I think that helped in its own way.”

Sad times aside, there were a good deal of happy times to which Marley contributed as well. I was pretty excited to talk with Marley about our shared interest in dancing with our forever moms around our respective kitchens.

“Oh that,” he said with a laugh, “It was terribly uncomfortable as I’m sure you know, but it was worth it to see her smile that big because of me.”

I confided in Marley that I’ve often wondered what will happen to that special time together with my forever mom after she has children of her own. Marley scoffed at the thought.

“I loved every new addition to the family like they were my own pups, and (in a way) they were,” he explained. “That’s what being a family dog is all about. Living each day to the fullest, loving with all your heart, and finding any opportunity to bring joy to others…no matter how small they might be.”

And, with that brilliant soliloquy, my daydream was interrupted by my mid-afternoon visitor also known as the mailman.

Regardless of the interruption, Marley’s words stuck with me throughout the remainder of the day, echoing in my soul like a constant reminder of who I am and what I am meant to be to the people in my life.

“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours,” said John Grogan, owner of Marley and author of Marley and Me. “Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.”

I can only hope to have impact like this in the lives of my people.