Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

All Over Again December 29, 2014

Everything about it felt a bit like deja vu to me. There was cooking and dancing and silliness and it all reminded me of something I’ve seen dozens of times before. It’s just been a while.

For some time now mom does the cooking. Or dad. But it rarely happens that they cook together like they did tonight. It was nothing fancy either. Just a pretty standard sampling of spaghetti with semi-homemade meat sauce, peas and garlic bread. The music in the background was a throwback to a few years ago too, including some old favorites by “Coldplay.” As they cooked, dear baby Carter happily feasted on a pear. And I watched, as I do, as joy from the ground up came to life in my kitchen.Good Life

This is not to say there is anything wrong with the present. There is a lot to celebrate about even the relatively mundane things about daily life in my forever home. But sometimes there’s nothing like a glimpse of the past to bring the present into focus.

Paying homage to where we came from can have that effect, I’ve found. Though anyone’s past might be marred with negatives, finding the positives to embrace can make all the difference in living joy in your daily life. There’s plenty about my past I could let haunt me, but I choose to celebrate the happy things instead. Family Time Please

Like the feeling of deja vu I had today. It was in moment when mom and dad danced around the kitchen without even meaning to as they teamed up to make the perfectly seasoned pasta sauce. It was in the moment when One Republic’s “Good Life” came on the music player and they reminisced about the time mom caught dad swinging Carter around the living room to the lyrics a few months ago. It was in the kiss they thought no one saw.

“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The past is not a place I’d like to live, but it certainly serves a purpose as far as I’m concerned. Because really it’s what we do with it that matters.

 

Shoot the Moon December 7, 2014

It’s not something I think I’ve ever done. Even if I did, I’m not sure I would enjoy it. At least that’s what I thought before tonight. It’s that time of the month again around here. The moon is full and bright in the clear night sky, and something deep in my spirit tells me this is something to celebrate.

I don’t know much about my ancient canine heritage, as I choose to embrace the life I have with my forever family without too much other than respect for the past. But there is definitely something about days (and nights) with a full moon. From what I hear, people can get kind of silly for no good reason other than some strange impact of the lunar cycle. And dogs howl.

As a dog who doesn’t bark that often, the idea of howling is pretty foreign to me. Even if it was, what would I say?

Tonight I pondered this as I roamed about my brisShoot the Moonk but beautiful backyard paradise. If I were one to howl at the moon, what would I say?

It brought to mind something I have observed about human behavior. From the ground up, sometimes things just need to explode. I know everyone processes emotions differently. Some people work out to burn off steam. Others eat their feelings. Some people vocalize everything they’re thinking. Others store it inside until they reach a boiling point. I know there are happy mediums as far as all of this is concerned, but there is also a common thread that (albeit loosely) ties these people together.

“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it,” suggested one of my favorite existential thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson.

At some point or another, it’s going to happen. You’re going to need a good cry. A thunderous yell. A howl at the moon. It’s only natural. Beyond that, it’s okay. Because from what I can tell, it has a way of healing deep emotional wounds like few other remedies. If that’s what you need to do to feel better, then I say shoot down that moon. Maybe not every month. But every so often, I see it as an opportunity worth seizing.

 

 

A Kindness Too Soon November 22, 2014

Stop. Pause. Breathe. If people could learn tricks, that is what I wish I could tell them to do this time of year.

I’ve said before the holidays are a favorite time of mine, what with all the family time and music and snow and snuggling. There are few things about the holidays I don’t enjoy. But there is one thing in particular that gets to me. It happens every single year and seems to intensify as the countdown to Christmas continues.

I Am Listening!People get rude. Pushy. Rushed. And completely inconsiderate of those around them. I don’t witness much of it in person, but I hear plenty of stories exchanged between my forever people to know what’s up. It drives me crazy. Not just because it’s the season of giving. Gratitude. Unconditional love. But because of the impact this behavior has. Negativity has an awful way of spreading like a disease no one can control, and while I would hate to see that happen at any point in time, it bothers me most around the holidays.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late,” suggested one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson. If there is a reason to rush this holiday season, that’s the reason.

Because this is supposed to be a season of kindness. A season to share love with others who may otherwise not receive it. This is supposed to be a time of joy, and any ignorant person in a parking lot who steals a spot from an elderly lady or shoves their way in front of someone in line or loses patience with the overworked clerk who is only in the challenging position because the store is understaffed…well, they are doing nothing but stealing joy from other people. Not sharing it.

So I say stop. Pause. Breathe. Remember what the season is really about. It’s not about the gifts or the wrapping paper or the perfect Christmas tree. Its about joy. From the ground up, that is the real reason for the season.

 

 

A Cartoon A Hero and a Baby July 15, 2014

It occurred to me today. My philosophy on adventure is not that unlike my perspective on life. It is what you make it. If you believe in your heart something is possible, then it is. And as transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, what lies in ahead and behind you doesn’t matter as much as what is within.

That’s why I know adventure becomes us. Big or small, nothing is too silly to be considered an adventure in my world. And when plans go awry and things don’t turn out like they were supposed to, the way I see it at least it was an adventure. Kisses

So today I got to thinking of who I wish I could adventure with if fiction were reality and time was relative. I think the first two are pretty simple. I wish I could explore the world with Snoopy of the comic strip Peanuts. He always could make something out of nothing. He sought out adventure in simple things. And I want to know what he thought about all that time he stared into the sky on the top of his dog house.

The second would be Benji, a well-known canine personality featured in a number of movies from the 1970s to the 2000s. He was blessed with a knack of being in the right place at the right time. He sought out ways to help others in big and small ways. He was a hero.

As I watched dear baby Carter today I realized he would be the third character whose adventures I wish I could live. Sure, he is not fictional and has two feet instead of four hands, but his mind is a very mysterious place to me. He is so curious. So many things make him smile. And the way he puzzles about things like he is seeing them for the first time is itself a marvel, especially because most times it is new to him.

The way he gazes at the shadows on the ceiling or the light cast into the room by the blinds. The way grabs his butterfly off his activity center. The look on his face when he had is first taste of peas (a personal favorite of mine). These things fascinate him. In turn they fascinate me.

As I watched him gobble up his first taste of another new “solid” food today (I giggle since it all looks a lot like mush to me), some of the mystery in his mind was brought to life. It’s not that unlike my perspective on life being what you make it. Everything is an adventure to him right now. It’s refreshing. But as I watched the life his curious mind brought to my forever parents as they too became part of the adventure, I realized it’s more than that. It’s inspiring.

 

 

Days Like This July 10, 2014

It started last night. Dear baby Carter was upset. To be honest, I haven’t seen him this upset in a long while. In general, he naps about as much as I do throughout the day (which is a lot) and (as a result) is a generally happy baby. I’ve witnessed the effect his joy can have on people in public, and I think it’s all to do with his great napping schedule. But last night was not one of his good days. He was crying and nothing calmed him except when mom walked around the house holding him. So that’s what she did for as long as it took to put him to sleep.

Again today, I watched as more than one person attempted to calm him and nothing worked. I feel so helpless in these situations. The poor kid is teething (which I’ve heard is a nightmare), growing (which is apparently quite painful) and had shots yesterday (been there). And, as a result of all of this, he slept very little and ultimately gave his caregivers a run for their money today. Not to mention the effect his screaming had on my sleep. As one who naps pretty frequently himself, you’d think maybe he’d show some respect. But today involved no such thing. Today involved no such joy. Love

Instead, today was “one of those days,” as I’ve heard people call it. But I’ve also heard people say “there’d be days like this.” It’s a part of life. It helps us appreciate when times are good, which (at least in my humble doggie opinion) is much more frequent than days like today.

For me, the hard part was seeing that light that usually burns so brightly within dear baby Carter flicker today. His light brings such joy to so many people, it pains me to see him this unhappy. But, just as I know today is one of those days in the valley that reminds us to look toward the mountains, I was reminded of the importance of finding another source of light when the power goes out. Another source of joy is always within our reach.

Today it happened in the sun. Dear baby Carter was far more upset than I’ve seen him in a long while. When I thought for sure he would not stop crying, mom tried something that warmed my heart. She put us together on a blanket outside in the beautiful summer weather to play. At least for a few brief moments, Carter was happy, which means mom was happy, which means my heart was happy. It’s funny how that works.

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful,” suggested my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson, “for beauty is God’s handwriting.” Like any handwriting, I think His can be hard to understand sometimes, but the message itself is clear. There will be days like this, but it’s up to us to find the beauty that makes them worth living anyway.

 

The Importance of Emotional Attention June 21, 2014

To most people it probably sounds pretty ridiculous. Mom is blessed. I see her a lot more than I used to. But that’s beside the point. Because when this happens, it doesn’t matter how often we see each other. She gets pretty mad.Life's Big Questions

“So…what did you do all day?” is probably one of the worst questions a husband can ever ask a wife. Especially when there is a small child involved. It carries with it a somewhat hurtful (albeit probably unintentional) amount of loathing that makes one hard-working mother feel as though she isn’t quite working hard enough. While I know in my heart that is certainly not the message dad intended to deliver this afternoon upon return from his day at the race track with his dad, that is exactly what he said.

And, as it were, his intentions didn’t matter. Mom’s feelings were hurt and there is sometimes no turning back from that. Because in her eyes our day was plenty busy. We played and ate and slept and played some more. Auntie Morgan even came over for some pool time. Granted, no laundry was done. No dishes were cleaned. Nothing was dusted. But that didn’t matter, because overall, it was a very nice day.

I think this misunderstanding that happened between my people today reflects a common misconception in society. Because the way I see it people all work very hard. And I was raised on a “work hard, play hard” kind of philosophy. But that’s so far from reality for my people. There is no playing hard around here since (for the most part) they would rather be with each other than anywhere else on a Saturday night.

So I suppose it sounds pretty ridiculous to most other people, but I stand by the truth I know in my heart, which is that my dear forever mom and dad are truly blessed. It might not seem like it to them as the hard working people they are, but they are fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with dear baby Carter. Not to mention with me, as I do require an average (to above average) amount of emotional attention. I just think it’s too easy sometimes to forget the importance of emotional attention.

And that reminds me all to clearly of the words of dear transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson, who suggested “nobody can bring you peace but yourself.”

I know he’s right. Yet I know the peace I felt in my heart today when several of my favorite people were happy together. That is a peace of emotional attention money can’t buy.

 

Dream A Little Dream June 20, 2014

I don’t think I would admit it to just anyone. But I’ve been having this nightmare over and over ever since I heard the worst bedtime story ever. Apparently the other day when mom and dad took dear baby Carter to see all of those other babies, crying happened. A lot of crying. It was one of those instances where the people thought it was a good idea to take pictures of all six children (who are under the age of 3) together for some silly reason. The joke is on them.Dreaming in Fairy Tales

Today I finally saw video documentation of the moments, and I’ve got to say. It was pretty epic. One baby was crying and the rest chimed in like it was Canon in D handbell-style. But it wasn’t. It was family weekend with babies and everything was supposed to be perfect. The thing is, life is so frequently imperfect that it makes me wonder about this thing called perfection in the first place.

Perfection, when it does happen, seems unreal. Like it’s somehow unbelievable or unattainable or something. Reality is so much better if you find a way to discover joy in. Because (at least in my humble doggie opinion) there is too much pressure when one is in constant pursuit of perfection. It does not align with the pursuit of happiness, therefore I do not support it.

So in this moment of reality that I’ve relived over and over as a nightmare, I find an ironic sense of peace. Call me an optimist, but even in nightmares I find serenity if I search hard enough. Today didn’t take much of a search. I don’t suppose I should be surprised that today’s source of wisdom is inspired by a favorite transcendentalist thinker of mine.

“For each thorn, there’s a rosebud… for each twilight — a dawn… for each trial — the strength to carry on,” suggested Ralph Waldo Emerson. “For each stormcloud — a rainbow… for each shadow — the sun… for each parting — sweet memories when sorrow is done.”

Not every dream ends in happiness. Not every day is filled with rosebuds, or dawns, or strength or rainbows. But these are the days that make us appreciate the days filled with smiles, sunshine and all things happy. These are the days filled with joy, from the ground up.

 

Searching for the Light June 12, 2014

It might sound silly. I am obviously happier than I have ever been with my forever family and our new addition otherwise known as dear baby Carter. And it doesn’t happen often. But every now and then from time to time I find myself longing for one special thing from a past life of mine. A lighthouse. Light.

During my time in Port Washington, Wisconsin, I lived with a family who had several other cats and dogs and that just didn’t work for me. I am now (dog) man enough to admit I acted out for attention in a variety of ways, including (but not limited to) running away frequently. It wasn’t unheard of for me to jump the four-foot fence that encompassed the backyard, just to spite my owners at the time for not paying proper attention to me. It would be one thing if I felt loved, however there were days they forgot to fill my food and water bowls. Nonetheless, that past is past now.

But as my friends and family know, it is a personal goal of mine to make my past a vivid part of inspiration for my future. So today I thought about the good things. Today I thought about the memories and experiences I gained while I lived with that family. (That is, before they returned me to the humane society for being a nuisance). Good, bad, and ugly, there was one image that kept repeating in my mind. In Port Washington there is this lighthouse. It’s way out into the lake, but there is a stony path leading to it for people who want to visit. I have never been such a visitor, but I know my people have. And I know many (many) before (and after) them have as well.

It’s one of those landmarks I wish I could have brought with me to my new forever home. Not just because it seems to bring its visitors joy. It’s bigger than that. It brings them light. From the ground up, this is one of the very most important things an object can do for a person if you ask me. Because as one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson but it, “what lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

So it might sound silly. But from now on when I find myself longing for the lighthouse I know what I need to do. I need to dig deep and remember both what is behind and in front of me. Light. From the ground up, I know one thing for sure. This is what is within me.

 

On Our Way April 23, 2014

It might sound like madness. And it doesn’t work with everyone. In fact, there are probably a lot more people it doesn’t work with than it does. But I have this trick. It’s kind of a signature move of mine, if I have such a thing. I jump until someone catches me.

I remember the first time it happened like it was yesterday. I was new to my forever home and I was in my backyard paradise with my new forever mom. She patted her legs with her hands and said “up” and I did it. Without a second thought, I jumped right into her arms.

It wasn’t long before I started responding to anyone who did that gesture with my signature move. My aunt Morgan. My mom’s friend Andi. Anyone who patted their legs in that certain way had a Wiley in their arms shortly thereafter.

I’m not sure who trained who when it comes to this particular behavior, if I’m being honest. But lately I have noticed it doesn’t work quite as well. Because lately when my forever mom and dad leave the house they do so with that big old car seat and a diaper bag and whatever other accessories are required for baby Carter. And without me.

At least most of the time when I know I would have otherwise been invited on whatever journey was about to ensue I now hear the dreaded “stay” word. At first it bothered me a little. At first I cursed the dreaded “stay” word. But today I realized that is silliness. Riding with the homies

I still have my fair share of adventures. In fact, I dreamed today of some places I would like to travel. I hear there is a camp for dogs and their people in Vermont where you can square dance. In San Diego, there are beaches that allow dogs to roam and swim freely. Austin Texas apparently has a bunch of dog parks to explore.

I can’t say for certain whether I will ever make it to these places. But I can confirm the madness. Because as my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson put it “though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

There is something special that happens when I make it into the arms of my forever mom before a journey. And it doesn’t matter if the extent of that journey is a car ride to the grocery store. Joy. From the ground up, it happens in those moments for my mom and I. We carry each other in those moments. Because it doesn’t matter where you’re going in life as much as who you’re going there with.

 

 

The Present of Presence February 7, 2014

I think I would want to meet Marley (of Marley & Me fame). Or Ralph Waldo Emerson. Or Lassie. Or maybe myself as a puppy. There are so many places I would want to go and things I would want to see. There would be lessons to learn, joy to share and life to live.

The same could be said if I opted to travel to the future, where dogs can safely drive cars and I can meet the dog who will replace me in the hearts of my people. I wondered today what I would do first if I invented a time machine. Would I go to the past, stay in the present or fast forward to the future? One may never know.Tick tock

What I do know is woulds coulds and shoulds are no way to live. I think I would be a pretty busy doggie if I could travel through time, but something about the idea catches my heart. Time is a constant. It comes and goes, ebbs and flows. It keeps moving even when we wish it would stop and slows down when we want it to speed up. I can’t change that.

Instead I can embrace words like will, can, and shall. These are the words of today, the present that is the present. As nice as it would be to have a time machine, it’s not (yet) one of life’s little luxuries. But joy is. You can find it wherever you look. You can see it in precious moments of a passing day. You can hear it in words from family and loved ones. From the ground up, it’s about the now much more than the future or the past.

“Time has been transformed, and we have changed,” suggested Lebanese philosopher Khalil Gibran. “It has advanced and set us in motion, it has its face, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration.”

I do still think it would be fun to wrestle with Marley or pick the brains of Emerson and Lassie. And it would be even more exciting to share such things with the future version of myself. But I don’t need a time machine to learn lessons, share joy and live life. I have the present for that.