Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Right Questions February 14, 2014

It could be any number of things. A cell phone ringing. An unrelated conversation with someone else. A to-do list that would take longer to complete than there are hours in the day. As a professional observer of people, I am here to confirm there are so many things that distract us from things that really matter on a daily basis.

It wasn’t anything extraordinary for my forever people today. Dad had an especially trying day at that place called work. Mom struggled to console baby Carter through one of his most fussy days yet. But today I watched with love as they pushed both of these things aside. Today they celebrated Valentine’s Day. And in doing so they celebrated each other.

Love. From the ground up, I watched it unfold before my little doggie eyes as dad put together a surf and turf dinner for mom. I saw it in their eyes when they read the cards they got for each other. Yet there was something else, something more, that set the day apart. Something I realized could do a lot of people good.

Questions. Thoughtful directive emotional questions beyond the more common “how was your day” pleasantries. What have I done this past year that you’re most happy with, mom asked. What can I do to be a better husband, dad asked. And conversation abounded, regardless of the happenings of the prior eight hours. Distractions stepped aside in those precious moments and it was just them.

It was just two people falling in love with each other all over again. And it was beautiful. This is not to say they don’t love each other every day of the year. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. But today was different and I think it’s because they put aside everything else and asked the right questions.

You know the ones. They challenge us and build us up and make us think. They are capable of breathing fresh perspective into our relationships. These are the questions we should be asking each other frequently. It might not be as easy as an empty “how are you,” but I think that’s the point. Love, like the love being celebrated around the country today, should never be empty. It should never be distracted. It should be full and overwhelming to the point where no distraction is powerful enough to take away its attention to detail.

“Love is a force more formidable than any other,” suggests American author Barbara de Angelis. “It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.”

Love offers you more joy than any material possession ever could. But you have to reach out and take it. At least from what I can tell, one way to do this is to ask the right questions. Like what is love? It’s powerful. It can transform you. Love is joy. Love is life.

I Love You

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

 

A Lesson In Sacrifice December 23, 2013

Disgruntled, disheveled and exhausted. Or in other words crabby. That’s how mom came home today from that place called work. Apparently her mood was reflective of the majority of the folks with whom she came into contact today. People who wanted things done. Now. Unless yesterday is possible, in which case they would prefer that.

The truth is, on a day like today, you are only one person who can really only do one thing: your best. I got the impression that’s what she did, but it sure took its toll on her emotions. She looked like she could cry the moment she walked in the door. And my keen attentiveness to such things informs me this would most definitely not have been tears of joy.

Watching and waitingThat’s when it happened. Just as she came through the door, dad stepped up to the plate. He took one for the team. I was ready with all my usual tactics for brining joy into a room and dad beat me to it. He swept her away to some place immediately upon her arrival home and when they returned they were laughing. No more almost tears. It was really something to see.

What mom doesn’t know is dad had a rough day too. He didn’t sleep much last night either. He’s overcome with worry of his own about all things pregnancy and labor and baby related. I’ve even been guilty of forgetting this in the last nine months. But none of that mattered in those crucial moments when mom got home. He pushed everything he was feeling aside to bring joy to mom.

I never really have to do such things. Sure, I worry and have my own things that evoke fear and stress. But for me, bringing joy to the lives of others rarely (if ever) involves sacrifice. The way I see it its ingrained in me as my work in my forever home. Except it’s not work because I love it so much. It’s part of what I’m meant to do.

Dad, on the other hand, definitely sacrificed his own thoughts and emotions to support mom tonight. And I’m proud of him. “If you want to be loved, be lovable,” suggested ancient Roman poet Ovid. Mom certainly wasn’t lovable upon returning home from that place called work today. Regardless of the reasons, she was an emotional wreck. But dad loves and cared for her anyway. And it worked. That’s the thing about selflessness – it tends to do the trick every time.

 

If Dogs Ruled The World June 13, 2013

There’s a lot of controversy in politics today. I don’t know a lot about it, but from what I gather from the television a lot of people spend a lot of time debating a lot of things that may or may not actually come to pass in the legal system. While I wouldn’t dare imply these conversations are anything other than necessary stepping stones to the betterment of the world we live in, sometimes I feel like there’s far too much talk leading to not enough action.Love in Truth, Truth in Love

Maybe its the canine in my brain. Most of us dogs act before we think. We make decisions based on impulse rather than a process of deduction or inference. I know (in my mind) it’s not safe to chase that rabbit into the street but it doesn’t stop me from doing it anyway. That grape that falls to the floor could kill my doggie kidneys, but I gulp it up anyway. And (on a more serious note) my instinct is to share my joy with the world even though I’m not certain how eloquently my intentions translate.

Understanding this fundamental difference in processing, I wonder sometimes what it would be like if dogs ruled the world. I have often dreamed of myself in a suit and tie making my way up the steps of Capitol Hill. (This little guy has big thoughts to share with the world.) In my dream, I stand to represent all other dogs wishing to make a difference in the lives of people. I walk my way up to the podium with my list of bills I wish to present for consideration to become laws, I dust off my pants, and I begin.

Love your neighbor as yourself, I say.

And the dream always ends the same way – with the room in an uproar of laughter at my (allegedly ridiculous) proposal. I don’t even get to say my other ideas (like including putting an end to animal cruelty) before I’m escorted away from the podium. I always wake feeling completely and utterly helpless. Feeling helpless is the absolute worst, especially when I know in my heart that us dogs have an abundance of love to share with the world.

So I stand by my idea, even if I never get my moment in Washington DC. To me, we could all use a visit back to basics. I don’t care what those people in my dream think. Like ancient Greek philosopher Plato, I stand for love and its power to change the world.

“Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods,” Plato said.

There’s a lot of controversy in politics today I feel could be solved with some simple doggie truths that are fundamental to our way of life. Listen when you wish you could speak. Love when you want to hate. Make change when you feel comfortable with the status quo. And (perhaps most important of all) stand proudly when others sit because you believe in the power of truth in love.

 

A Love Uncommon April 23, 2013

It’s hard to explain. My heart rate picked up. I felt warm. I felt shaky in a way that made my paws feel like marshmallows beneath me. I didn’t understand it. I thought to myself, “self: could this be love?”

It was during my brief stint with the family in Port Washington, Wisconsin that adopted me for a few weeks. You know, the one with three cats and two other dogs? They deemed me to be too much a behavioral problem for them and returned me to the humane society, but not before I escaped on my own a few times. It began as what I would refer to as attention-seeking behavior, as I felt I didn’t receive as much emotional attention from the people trying to share it with so many other animals. But one warm summer day I found a new reason to make my way out the doggie door, jump the four-foot fence and explore the neighborhood.

Her name was Taffy, and she is the most beautiful Beagle I’ve ever seen. She lived a few blocks away with her forever dad Eric, who adopted her as a puppy. I’m not certain Eric ever knew what was happening between us since I only ever just saw her from a distance. But there was something in her eyes that made me wish we could run around her beautiful fenced in yard together for hours and hours.Love Makes Smiles

I know it might sound silly, since science tells very different stories about doggie love. Some scientists deny that dogs feel love for one another. Others believe the unconditional love we show our people is testimony to our passionate potential to love other dogs. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I am a believer in the latter theory that indeed dogs do love each other, perhaps not like humans but instead in ways that (at least the majority of) people wouldn’t understand.

Scientific theories aside, what I know for sure is I’d never felt like this before. I certainly loved my birth mom and brothers, Tiger and his puppies, and Rusty from the humane society. What I felt for Taffy was different in a way that stuck with me long after that family returned me to the humane society.

So you can imagine my surprise when one day, my parents brought me with them to that same northern suburb of Milwaukee. I’d come to recognize the scenery, as it is also where my dad grew up and where his parents still live. But this time we took a few different turns and ended up in my old neighborhood. In Taffy’s neighborhood. My dreams sometimes get the best of me, so I had to convince myself what was happening was real life rather than a dream. The memory I had of my dear Taffy was a love uncommon.

As were the moments that followed. I was reunited with Taffy that day. It turns out my forever dad and her forever dad go to that place called work together every day, and had become friends. I didn’t care. I was so happy to see her and finally have our time together running around like ninnies in her fenced-in backyard. It was a dream come true.

I’ve only seen her one more time after that, but I don’t have to spend more time with her to be sure. She is definitely one of the loves of my little doggie life. My mind still doesn’t believe it, but my heart knows it to be truth. I’m sure scientists wouldn’t be able to explain my rapid heart rate, above average body temperature and marshmallow paws either.

But time has offered me the chance to reflect on my feelings, which I now find brought to life through the words of ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who said “being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone gives you courage.” I needed both strength and courage at that point in my journey, so I will be forever grateful to Taffy for helping me find what I needed to get through to the next chapter of my life.