Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Whatever the Reason January 14, 2015

It starts with the mind. Trepidation. Anxiety. And ultimately, fatigue. This is a vicious cycle I witness unfolding all too frequently in the life of my forever mom. I’m usually the first to know when there is something bothering her, mostly because she walks around with her heart on her sleeve.

Sometimes it’s something as ridiculous as what to make (or where to go) for dinner. Other times it is a major life decision or event that she builds up in her head as something way more terrifying than it could possibly ever be. Whatever the reason, the cycle remains the same.

Trepidation. Otherwise known as fear of the unknown. Love. Unplugged.

Anxiety. The culmination of worry, fear and stress.

Fatigue. The feeling of weariness that follows a stressful or worrisome situation.

But there is something else I notice about this cycle. Something I’ve said before I don’t particularly support. Regret. From the ground up, this thing drenched in disappointment is not a favorite thing of mine. Yet in this case, I hold it up as the reason for essentially debunking this terrible cycle that causes my mom (and surely others) such emotional discomfort.

I say this because I watch as the fear and anxiety and fatigue all happen, and I know what comes next. Inevitably, the cycle awakens the part of a person to the realization that, in reality, it was all for naught. Life goes on. Today becomes tomorrow. And with it, we get a fresh start. Not to start the whole terrible cycle all over again, but to live anew.

It ends with the mind. Trepidation. Anxiety. Fatigue. Regret. None of it has to happen if we catch it early enough.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it,” as ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle suggested. Worry is going to happen. People are going to psyche themselves out over nothing. But life is going to go on, with or without them. If you ask me, there is strength to persevere within these basic truths.

 

No Backspace Button October 20, 2013

I stick my foot in my mouth all the time. Literally. It’s part of my daily grooming routine. A nibble here and there is as second nature to me as scratching an itchy ear with my foot or licking a sore paw. But I’m no dummy.

Keyboard of LifeI know the same can not be said of people, who have the luxury of hands to do a lot of these types of things. Also, I think it would be pretty challenging (albeit funny) to see them try. Literally. I think it would be a struggle.

And yet it apparently happens all the time. Figuratively. As a professional people watcher, I have picked a few things up over the years and this is one of the most interesting to me. People say really stupid things. Whether its something they don’t really mean said in an argument or a random comment out of the blue, it happens all the time. And for as often that I wish I could speak, I glory in my silence when I happen to overhear these moments of ignorance.

That’s just it. Ignorance. And let me tell you, from what I’ve seen of it, ignorance is not bliss. Nor does it excuse the behavior of saying things you don’t mean. I think that’s the challenging part. More often than not, regret follows this note of ignorance. But the moment has passed and the words were said and they cannot be taken back. Words are powerful tools, and when they get used as weapons context gives way to emotion. It makes for a very messy situation.

It brings to mind the wise words of Audrey Hepburn who suggested that “for beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness. And for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

I’ve thought about it and now it’s time to speak up. I might look silly nibbling on my back paw from time to time, but it turns out people do it all the time too. And it hurts. But it isn’t the end of the world either. It happens. A lot. And while that doesn’t excuse anything, it does make us very familiar with the practice of moving on. I’ve always said everything is worthwhile if a lesson is learned. Well, in this case I think the lesson is crystal clear. Think before you speak. Because you can’t take it back. There is no backspace button on the keyboard of life.

 

It Goes On October 15, 2013

I’ve heard it all before. If only I’d seen it coming. I should have planned for that. Hindsight is 20/20. Regrets. Somehow knowing everyone has them doesn’t make the ones we have any less real. I know the great and thoughtful “they” say misery loves company. In this case I’m not so sure.

Deep ThinkingTonight I stared up at the clear night sky dreaming about my future as a big brother. I’m going to love him or her as big as the sky, that much I know. And we’re going to be best friends forever (obviously). But I know my purpose in the life of this little purpose will be bigger than that. I’ve learned a lot in my five people years of life and I can’t wait to share everything. People can learn a lot from how us canines process things, after all.

Like regrets, for example. I have them. And I remember the day of my biggest one like it was yesterday. The day I was separated from my mom and brothers comes to mind instantly. There we were in the middle of oncoming traffic and I ran. I didn’t look back. I’ll never know what happened behind me that day. And it would haunt me to this day if I let it. If I let it. I think that’s the key to all of this regret business.

I doubt I’m the only one who’s biggest regret somehow involves the loss of a loved one. Be it a conversation that was cut off, misconstrued, or never even happened at all, many of us have experienced a sudden loss and wished there was something we could change about those last precious moments together. And we all know (all too well) there is nothing we can do. We can’t repeat the past, but we can live the present.

And in my present I chose to learn from my experience. I learned to hold loved ones close because you never know when that last embrace might be. But living life in constant fear of impending doom won’t get us anywhere either any more than regret will bring them back. Instead, seize the day regardless of the circumstances.

If you’re fortunate enough to be surrounded with loved ones, let them know what they mean to you. That’s something I want to teach my little person. But (perhaps more importantly), I want him or her to know that it’s not the end of the world if the worst does happen. You might not be able to hold that person close right now, but it doesn’t mean you can’t hold them forever in your heart. In lessons like this, sometimes we learn that in life’s greatest regrets lie some of life’s greatest opportunities for personal growth.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life,” as great American poet Robert Frost put it, “it goes on.” More often than not, we don’t see it coming. We didn’t plan for that. And that darned hindsight thing taps us on the shoulder. But somehow, no matter how grim the regret may seem, life does go on.

Related posts:

To read the whole story of my biggest regret – The Day Forever Changed http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/09/01/the-day-forever-changed/

 

I Made My Bed September 15, 2013

I dont have many regrets in life. I generally make an effort not to regret even the most regrettable of things by finding a silver lining in any situation. But (as hard as it may be to admit) nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes.

Feeling ReflectiveI was reminded of one of mine today when my forever parents came home with a gift for me. I’ve come to expect that there is at least something for me in those goody-filled plastic bags they bring home after running errands. From treats to toys, I’m usually right. Today’s present didn’t come in a bag. It was a brand new fluffy blue cloud of a dog bed. This will be my third since being in my forever home, which I frankly find unnecessary.

If it were up to me I would still have my first one. I had just worn it in enough so that it had all the right smells and a nice layer of my fur atop the entirety of the plush surface. Something tells me the same factors that made it feel homey to me made it fall under the category of “nasty” to my people. The second was headed in the same direction as the first and (in mine and mom’s opinion) it could have been saved before it took its trip to the scary green garbage bin. Dad did not agree.

So alas I now have my third dog bed. All to myself. I wish I could have found a way to convince dad to donate those other beds to a local shelter instead of throwing them away. Like in some karmic way that would repay the wrong I did once. Because in reality this is actually my fourth dog bed. The New Digs

Shelter (let alone comfort) was not always so easy to come by while I lived on the streets so you can imagine my overwhelming sense of excitement when I found it. A discarded dog bed on the side of the road. It smelled like spoiled fish, rotten eggs and felines. I didn’t care. It may as well been the doggie Hilton compared to the cardboard box I’d been living in for the last few weeks. So of course I didn’t want to share it with the family of kittens that came my way that night. There were four of them and they were shivering. They were all alone. They kept trying to snuggle and I shooed them away. The bed was mine after all. Not theirs.

They eventually wandered off, but I will never forget the look of desperation in the eyes of the last kitten to leave. I’m reminded of that look today as I snuggle up in my cozy new bed. It’s a crisp one as fall is approaching and I feel so blessed to have such a comfortable place to keep warm. Thinking of those kittens reminds me of how lucky I am. I generally don’t need a reminder to count my blessings, but I got one today.

I don’t have many regrets in life. But nobody’s perfect. I made my bed and now I have to sleep in it. Fortunately for me, I do a lot of good thinking in my sleep. This is why I know for sure we all make mistakes. It’s what we learn from them that matters.