Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Fighting Life’s Fires February 18, 2015

It’s never just one thing. I find as an observer of people that it’s usually many things that snowball into one of two categories. Good or bad, I look to find the silver lining in whatever may be happening in the world around me. But there are some days when that is easier said than done.

Because my time as an observer of people has taught me a thing or two about life. From the ground up, bad things happen to good people all the time.

Take today, for example. I don’t think a single person with whom I come into contact had a good day. Mom has been fighting the same darned cold for weeks now, and it’s really starting to bother her. She’s sick of being sick, she says. Dad encountered obstacle after obstacle at work. Dear baby Carter wasn’t himself from another lousy night of sleep the night before. But of that was nothing compared to what happened to my dear aunt Morgan.

It’s been frigidly cold here in my neck of the Wisconsin woods lately. Almost record-breakingly cold. I would go so far as to say 20 degrees has felt like a heat wave in recent weeks. So when the call came into my grandma (who was watching Carter while mom was at that place called work), I guess I wasn’t all that surprised.

My deaFeeling Sleepy On the Jobr aunt Morgan fell on some ice that has been neglected near her apartment complex. She was in pain. She was cold. And she was scared. I could hear it in her voice how scared she was.

Apparently my forever mom got a similar phone call a few minutes after it happened, because within about 20 minutes of the original call to grandma, she was home from that place called work. She came home so grandma could go help Morgan.

The last I heard, the fall may have resulted in some sort of knee damage, though it may be too early to tell how serious. My first (albeit emotional) response to everything that happened in such a short period of time was that there couldn’t possibly be a silver lining to this story. Because it’s never just one thing, and today the snowball went very quickly in a negative direction.

That is until I thought about what happened in that time between the fall and mom’s return home. Sure, Carter was pretty oblivious to what was happening. He just went about playing with all sorts of things he thinks are toys (while simultaneously disregarding his actual toys). But mom and dad and grandma came together to fight the fire together. The moving parts all worked together to address the situation in an effective and timely manner.

I’ve heard of this thing called flashover in a fire. In simple language, it’s the point of no return and it happens quicker than you might think. But that didn’t happen today. Because my people came together and they made it work. They do that a lot, now that I think about it. The fires happen, but they fight them together and everything is okay in the end. If that isn’t a silver lining, I don’t know what is.

 

Oh Christmas Tree December 18, 2013

A chubby fisherman. A pickle. Yoda. These are all random pieces that make up the whole of the Schmidt family Christmas tree. I found myself browsing the ornaments today from my perch in the windowsill and I realized how incredibly random they are.The tree and I

There are snowflakes, and a frog, and a stand mixer, and (gasp!) even a picture of me scattered throughout the tree. Each ornament has its own story, starting with the ones mom and dad both got as children. Then there are the ones they’ve purchased together through their time as a couple. “Our First Christmas” 2004 is among mom’s favorites. This year, a stork joined the mix to commemorate the impending arrival of our little person.

It’s its own kind of melting pot of stories and memories. And that too is a random piece that makes up the whole of society. It’s different for everyone. I’d venture to say it’s safe to assume no two Christmas trees are alike. Each one tells a story (or stories) of the home it graces. There are big trees and little trees and real trees and fake ones. There are trees filled to the brim with beautifully coordinated ornaments and trees of random memories collected through the years.

As I found myself somewhat entranced by the lights today, I realized there is something more than beauty to be taken from these trees. Just as they take on their own unique sense of personality, we too have our stories that make us who we are. And, depending on the circumstances, we may not share them as openly as we could. I understand from a practical standpoint why a Christmas tree only on display for a short time each year, but I see no reason why this should be true of our unique senses of identity. That should always be shared.

Even if it comes randomly, like in the form of a tiny pig or a plaque that reads “Nothing Is Impossible to a Willing Heart” on the Christmas tree. Because I’m not certain whether stories inspire life or life inspires stories. And maybe it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the stories get shared.

 

The Little Engine August 2, 2013

I need your help.

I didn’t realize it until recently when I spent almost three hours staring at a blank screen while the little flashing cursor laughed in my face. Writer’s block happens to dogs too. And (as is usually the case in matters of stubbornness), the answer to my troubles seemed obvious. Yet it also somehow seemed impossible. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t bring myself to ask for help.Will You Help Me?

Instead I kept having that same internal conversation – they will think less of me the weak little doggie with writer’s block. They will think I’m giving up. And (worst of all) they will be disappointed in me.

Ironically, I’ve always thought asking for help seemed like such an easy thing to do. It’s always seemed like such an easy thing to do. And (unless you’re Superman or Wonder Woman) it is generally necessary. It’s one thing to be the little engine that could, but even that special little engine needs to stop for gas every now and then. It made perfect sense to me.

Then the last seven months of blogging happened and changed everything. I set out to share my perspective on joy from the ground up. But (as the little flashing cursor mocked me) I realized never did I say the stories I share need only be mine. Like most dogs, I live a simple life in which I enjoy simple pleasures. So do a lot of people. We have this foundation in common, but the design from there differs by life experience.

So today I paws to ask for your help. For your ideas. For your stories. Please, share them with me so I can share my perspective on them with the world.

Because sometimes no matter how hard it tries the little engine that could just can’t. That’s why there are stations along the journey to rest and refuel. In life we all need to stop and refuel every now and then to keep delivering our best to the world. It’s never easy to admit, especially for those who thrive on being miracle workers. But it doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you any less of a person. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up. Quite the opposite in fact. You’re breathing new life into a tried and true perspective. I would argue that makes you stronger than ever.