Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Day I Met Myself January 9, 2014

Wiley C. Schmidt. That is the name engraved on the new tag I got from my forever mom and dad recently. It was my Christmas present, mom said, a replacement for the one they got me the day I went home with them from the Oshkosh Humane Society. That one had tarnished over time to the point where a stranger would no longer be able to read mom’s contact information. (Heaven forbid!)

Just call me WileyI was surprised at how bittersweet it was for me to see that old tag go (I think mom put it with a memory box or something with my name on it). It also said Wiley C. Schmidt, and to me it symbolized something. A fresh start. A second chance. A new life. It was all of these things and more. Because that day when I walked into my forever home I felt like I met myself for the first time.

I think this happens to all of us at one point or another in life. We continue along the path, sometimes veering off on our own, other times stopping entirely. Along that path we find out what challenges us, what brings us joy, and what we absolutely cannot handle. And, whether by our choice or the strong encouragement of others, we find out who we are somewhere along the line.

That’s what happened to me that first night in my forever home. I made up my mind this would be my new life, and while there were plenty negatives in my old one, there were lots of positives to incorporate into my new future. Take my name, for example.

That was part of my old life that brought me into my new life. My people opted not to change it when they adopted me, which I appreciate. Because on that day all those days ago I knew it. I was Wiley C. Schmidt. I knew who I was and I was not afraid of it. So while it will always have a very special place in my heart, I know now I don’t need that old tarnished tag to remind me of who I am. Because I have that on lockdown in my heart.

 

Empires of the Mind April 24, 2013

Mom, dad and I played around in the backyard together today. We all got dirty with mud, but we smiled and we laughed under the springy afternoon sun. It lasted about a half hour, but it was one of those half hours that remind you to be grateful to be alive.

I was grateful for the moments, but the recent loss of Rusty makes me stop and think. What would happen to these moments if I weren’t in them? I’m sure mom and dad would enjoy each other’s company, but I wouldn’t be there to interrupt. I wouldn’t be there to try to intercept the softball they were throwing back and forth. I wouldn’t be there to make them smile.

Don’t be silly, I told myself, they would be smiling without you here. While I know that’s true, I can’t bear the thought. It’s a funny feeling, to be sure. I certainly don’t wish them ill, but today when we were all happy together, I wondered a bit about what would happen when I wasn’t part of the playful picture.Happiness Captured

To especially the non-dog-lover/owner, it might sound silly, but I can tell how attached to me my mom is. She tells me she loves me more than enough to make up for the neglect and abuse of my past and I appreciate every single loving scratch, thoughtful comment, or unexpected (albeit occasionally lung-crushing) hug. Dad is a little more guarded (at least when mom’s around), but as I’ve said before, we have our moments when it’s just the two of us when I am certain his feelings for me are purely loving (whether he admits it aloud or not).

So today, when we were all playing together and they were both laughing like ninnies, it surprised me when I closed my eyes and saw something shocking. I wasn’t in the picture, but a dog that looked just like me was there in my place. Mom and dad were laughing, just like they did today, with this stranger dog. There were strange little people there too. A little boy and his younger sister, I would guess them to be eight- and four-years-old were there, laughing harder than I’d ever seen mom and dad laugh.

They were playing together, as a family, laughing and happy. My gut reaction was to moan and cry because I wasn’t part of this vision of the future. But that’s not true to the unconditional love I feel for my forever family. I do hope I get to meet these little people someday. I hope as well that I get to see them laugh like I did in my thoughts today.

I also know today was not the last time mom, dad and I will play around together in our backyard. I know it’s not the last time we’ll smile and laugh at each other as we get dirty with mud. I know it’s certainly not the last time I will take a moment’s pause to be grateful for moments like this in my life. But today was also a reminder of what it’s like to love unconditionally (as us dogs are so gifted at that).

“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind,” said the great political leader, artist, and writer Winston Churchill. Well, today I realized how much I hope the empire in my mind is reflected in the future whether or not I’m in it.

I realized it’s way too easy for me to feel betrayed, left behind and forgotten by images like what I saw in my head today. Well, I’ve never been one to take the easy road and I certainly don’t intend to start doing so now. Instead I choose to challenge myself to see the silver lining. Instead I see these images as a blessing of what’s to come. Instead I see the empire in my mind and realize how much I hope there is a dog just like me there to show the family I love more than life itself all the love I won’t be able to when I’m gone. Happiness like we had today will not stop when I’m gone if I have anything to say about it.

Related articles:

Dear Future Me – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/03/01/dear-future-me/

Pawprints in the Sand – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/04/22/pawprints-in-the-sand/