Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Peace on Earth December 24, 2014

It is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. It is not the absence of war, (but rather) a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice. It begins with a smile.

Peace. From the ground up, minds filled with a lot more wisdom than mind have a few things to say about it. Like civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. And Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza. And Catholic visionary Mother Theresa.20141224_170645

Like joy, I know peace takes many forms. It looks different to everyone depending on his or her life experiences and overall perspective on the world around them. It’s Christmas Eve around here, and though we don’t have any snow (an incredibly unusual occurrence in Wisconsin this time of year) on the ground, celebrations are in high gear.

But I can’t help but think about what happens in a couple days. After all the ribbons and bows are torn from their presents. After the holly jolly music has fled the airwaves. After the turkeys and hams and other holiday goodies are all long gone. Trees and decorations get put away, and a big empty hole can stand in its place.

It all brings to mind the words of Buddha, who suggested “peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

I hear it in the stillness of snowflakes falling around me in my backyard paradise. I feel it in my heart when my forever family is together and happy. I see it in smiles and laughter. I find peace all around me, and I know it is because it starts in my heart.

This may seem to many like a time of year for embracing all things worldly, but to me it’s just as important to remember where it all starts. The reason for the season. The love and joy and peace and all things holly and jolly. The life this season is capable of breathing into our souls is like no other.

Like the thinkers who are wiser than me suggested, it is how we arrive at a goal. It is a state of mind that can present itself in something as simple as a smile. And, as Mahatma Gandhi said, it “is its own reward.”

So from my little family to yours, I wish you a very Merry (and peaceful) Christmas.

 

My Little Peace Ritual May 16, 2013

I have this nightly ritual I’m certain my forever parents must think of as complete madness. Every night, my ritual starts the same way at about the same time.

Some of the Comfort CrewI grab Mr. Prickles from my toy basket (I’ll never understand the purpose of this basket other than making fun inconvenient) and take him to my favorite place in the house. I’ll suck on him for a while, but not too long. Then I’ll grab Mrs. Prickles. Repeat. Then Mr. Flea. Repeat. Then Mr. Tiger. Repeat. Then Mr. Angry Bird. Repeat. Well, I think you get the idea. If I’m being honest, this routine would probably continue all night if I didn’t run out of toys and sleep wasn’t necessary.

I’ve previously referred to these (albeit stuffed) characters in my life as my Comfort Circle and for good reason. Ever since I was a pup, I have found comfort in nursing on the soft little bodies. Animal behaviorists have linked this behavior in doggie adulthood to early separation from one’s doggie momma and abuse in puppyhood. (I unfortunately experienced both of these things). Also, I’m not sure if all people know this, but us canines store up a lot of our pent up feelings in our jaw muscles. The shoulder tension of humans is the jaw tension of dogs. It physically relieves stress when I rhythmically nurse on the joys (er, I mean toys).

I understand science and psychology have their reasons but I have one more to add to the conversation. There is something pretty great about beingMe and My Gal transported to another place and time in your mind. That’s what these toys do for me, which I’m certain is why I find peace in my nightly ritual.

What transports you to another place and time in your mind? Do you find peace there?

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake,” said transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the Earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

Every night, my ritual ends the same way at about the same time. Before bedtime, dad puts my Comfort Circle collection back in the basket in the living room. And every night I hop off the bed, grab whichever one is closest to the top, and bring that special pal back to bed with me. (It’s usually Mr. or Mrs. Prickles, but I mix it up so the others don’t get jealous). I don’t care if my people think it’s crazy of me to repeat these behaviors night after night. And that’s not just because I know they love me unconditionally. It doesn’t bother me because I know my ritual is my way of making a pathway to peace in my mind that brings a smile to my heart.

And I prefer to sleep smiling.

 

Peace Be With You April 21, 2013

Yesterday I came across a vision in white. At first, I was blinded by it. Beauty that breathtaking can do that to a man (er, I mean a dog). She looked like a princess.

It happened after a longer-than-usual Saturday drive to what I thought was going to be my grandma’s house. Let’s just say I was excited to go see grandma and my cousin Buddy. When dad took a different turn on the freeway, I was a different kind of excited; I was curious about where we were going instead.

Behind the LenseWe ended up at the home of two of my favorite little people Sophie and Sam (and their parents, of course). From there, we caravanned to a church, where it is my understanding that Sophie had her first Eucharist. I didn’t get to go inside the church, as much as I wish I could have. Instead, I waited patiently in the car, and enjoyed a fabulous afternoon nap in the warmth of an incredibly bright strange and foreign object to our corner of the world lately (also known as the sun).

As bummed as I may have been not to get to attend the service, it turned out it the service came to me on our way back to the house for the party that followed. Mom and dad were talking about some of the messages, and I can see why. They were too good not to share.

The priest began the special message with an analogy about what it meant to him when he finally got promoted to being able to sit at the adult table instead of the kiddie table. He was in awe of the stunning china, beautiful flatware and crystal wine glasses, which were a far cry from the paper plates, plastic napkins and red Solo cups of his past. But if you don’t bring anything to the potluck, there’s nothing to get. (Except maybe some Brussels sprouts, which I don’t think anyone appreciates). I was thinking about the power behind that message and it applies in so many facets of life.Some of My Other Little People

If you don’t show up for the game, there’s no game to be played. If you don’t bring treats to dog training classes, you probably won’t get anywhere. And if you don’t bring an open heart and mind to church, you will be closed off to the impactful messages it has to offer. If we listen with open hearts and minds, it will come. It reminds me a bit of obedience school: we dogs become man’s best friend through obedience and mutual understanding of our roles in each other’s lives.

Near the end of the service comes my favorite part, when the (incredibly packed) church apparently all offered their words of peace and encouragement to each other. Peace be with you, they said, to surrounding loved ones and strangers alike. Hugs were given, smiles were shared, and peace was present amidst what has arguably been one of the more challenging weeks for us as a country.

Yesterday, I witnessed a vision in white that brought a special kind of glow to the Schmidt family. (It breathed spirit into three of my other favorite little people who I was blessed to see as well). Like beauty, wisdom can blind us with its honesty sometimes.

Even though I heard it all secondhand, the wise messages that came to them on Sophie’s special day lived up to their reputation. “It isn’t enough to talk about peace, one must believe in it, ” the  well-known former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said. “And it isn’t enough to believe in it, one must work at it.” Let’s work together find peace in the simple things, joy in the blessings in life, and appreciation for what it means to sit at the big kid’s table. Peace be with you all.