Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

More or Less August 12, 2013

I don’t think dogs are wired to understand the people concept that less is more. I’m sure I don’t speak for all of us, but I certainly don’t leave spare kibbles in my bowl. Not a single scrap of people food hits the floor that I don’t scoop up. One toy is just never enough. But I suppose this all makes sense because we live with our whole honest selves. We wear our hearts on our proverbial sleeves. And we love with all our hearts.

2013-06-28 21.17.47I was reminded of this today when I heard a familiar phrase on television. “Amateurs built the ark; experts built the Titanic.” I’m not certain of the origin of this philosophical commentary, but I’m drawn to it for obvious reasons. Not only does it challenge us to try something new, to challenge conventional wisdom, but it aligns with another truth I hold dear about judging a book by its cover.

Don’t do it. Easy as that.

It is in contradictions such as these that I find myself pondering things on a more philosophical level. In general more is more to me, yet I believe in extracting joy from the simple things in life. I believe in giving that book with a seemingly boring cover a read simply out of principal. I believe in second chances. These are not declarations of someone who doesn’t understand how less can possibly be more.

Maybe that’s the amateur in me. It’s the same part of me that can’t leave any food and prefers the company of all my entire comfort circle of toys rather than a simple representation. But just because I don’t understand something doesn’t mean I push an idea aside. Quite the opposite, in fact, to the point that I want to learn something from everything. I would much rather build something on faith and understanding than on vanity and luxury anyway.

So perhaps I’ve been going about this whole less is more concept the wrong way. It’s not one way or the highway. When we love with our whole selves, down to our core, whether we have more or less of something doesn’t matter.

 

Obedience School Drop Out June 28, 2013

I’ve been called a lot of not-so-nice things in my relatively short doggie life. Obedience school drop out. Behaviorally challenged. Approved for homes with children ages 12 and above. Yet I find in life’s greatest contradictions lie some of the most intricate sources of wisdom.

Its true of animals and people alike if you ask me. If you hear something enough times, you start to believe it as truth. In a dog’s life, words like stupid, naughty, and troubled haunted my puppyhood. In a person’s life, overuse of words like stupid, disabled, or challenged as a child can impact a person for the rest of their adult life. Truth becomes us. But can we become truth?

Becoming Truth

I’ve often wondered this as I think nostalgically back on my time before my people brought me into my forever home. I encountered a variety of characters in a myriad of settings who each taught me invaluable lessons along my journey. So how could I be so stupid? Why do they keep calling me naughty? What did the folks at the humane society say to my mom that almost made her give up fighting to adopt me?

Then it happened. The tides changed, and with them my life changed forever. Two distinctly similar moments come to mind when I think of the brilliance of contradictory wisdom. My first night at the humane society when I thought the world was coming to an end, Rusty the golden retriever showed me the light. Much like my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rusty believed we are not products of what the world tells us, but rather of what we tell ourselves. We are what we think, so of course if we believe the negative things that are said about us we indeed may become them.

The bookend to my understanding of this occurred only a few short months later, when my forever family took me to see an animal behaviorist for my alleged behavioral problems. (This was required by the humane society as a condition of my adoption.) I’ll never forget the first two sentences Jenny said when we began our session. “He’s got to be one of the most unique looking dogs I’ve ever met,” she said, “and so smart!”

It was the first time anyone had ever used the word smart to describe me. And in that moment I was both overwhelmed with joy and humbled. Rusty changed my interpretation of the world around me by changing my interpretation of myself, and here I was being praised for simply being me. I know it sounds contradictory, but in that moment I realized true wisdom is found through admission there is much yet to learn.

It is because of my personal admission of humility that I can say I honestly wouldn’t mind being called those negative names anymore. Sure, if we hear something repeated enough times we begin to believe it. But let us learn from the variety of characters life offers us. Let us choose to contradict the negative things with our positive thoughts. Let us become our own truth.

 

Tag, You’re It! June 19, 2013

So this is the world and there are 7 billion people in it. Among the various countries and cultures that serve as home to this incredible population are hundreds (perhaps even thousands) different breeds of dogs. While the census allows some sense of accuracy with the global population, research reveals no such thing about the population of dogs. Us four-leggers are everywhere in all shapes, sizes, colors and personalities. Some breeds even look slightly different in one country versus another.

There is a pretty big world out there. It is absolutely overwhelming to think about. Not to mention completely intimidating. How (on Earth) are we supposed to make a name for ourselves among all the other personalities out there? Truth is I have no idea if there even is a right answer for that question. But there is one thing I do know for sure: who we are is synonymous with our unique set of values and beliefs that contribute to our personality.

I’ve never been much of a digger in the literal sense (as I know some of my canine brothers are), but my archeological adventure to personal authenticity has led me to do another kind of digging. I dig deep on a daily basis by seeking to find good in all people, places and things with which I come into contact. My daily blogging journey has served as somewhat of a shovel digging toward personal discovery of my authentic self. It’s a dig like no other, and I can’t say I’d change much about what I’ve found.Surfing the world wide web

“Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within,” American author and activist Helen Keller encouraged. “It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us that makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves.”

It makes me happy to believe in the power of the present in the “present” that is each day I wake. I find joy in the oddest of places, and experience the sincerest form of joy when I share it with others. When I share it with you. Every day I wish I could somehow reach farther, touch more, make a bigger difference all-the-while giving thanks for the people (and pets) all over the world who have helped me along my path to self awareness. It’s safe to say I’ve caught the joy bug and I want to share it with the world. That’s right. I’ve caught the joy bug and I want to share it with all 7 billion people and their however many breeds of four-legged best friends. My tagline is to share joy: from the ground up. What’s yours?