Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Because I Love You December 15, 2014

It happens all the time. Sometimes several times a day. To be honest, it happens so frequently, I could very easily find myself taking it for granted. In reality I know that is the absolute worst thing I could do. I Love You

That’s why when it happened today, I paused. I took it in. I wrapped my heart around it so tightly in an effort to remind myself how special the words actually are.

“I love you so much, Wiley. Do you know that?” These are words mom says to me pretty often, and rarely do the words include one sentence without the other. The statement and the question. I used to think it was kind of silly of her to ask a question with such an obvious answer, but time has taught me not to be curious about such things. It is what it is, and for that I am thankful.

She’s taken to saying it to dear baby Carter as well, which I found some irony in as I thought about it this afternoon. Because neither he nor I can say it back. I know soon he will be talking up an intelligible storm, but that has yet to come to fruition. And I have nothing by my nonverbal arsenal to show her the obvious truth that I not only know her words as truth, but adamantly return the sentiment.

I know this as certain as I know she doesn’t need an answer to her question. She asks it all the time. But I will never (ever) take that for granted. In my book, a person can’t say they love another person enough.

“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you,'” suggested German psychologist Erich Fromm. “Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.'”

A dog can’t show their unconditional love for their people in enough different ways. Maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to not hear it enough (or ever). Or maybe it’s because I’m not getting any younger and feel the need to embrace it each time I hear it. Either way, it’s okay with me.
 

Daily Dose of Nonsense April 10, 2014

Human communication never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes not saying anything at all says more than words. Other times words themselves bring conversation to a halt. Not to mention the nonverbal communication. And the emotions behind it all.

Me and My BuddySo I have to admit that it has been pretty interesting watching my little person develop a sense of language. Starting before he was born when he would kick my forever mom in the ribs. I think he was saying he wanted out. Then, for the first few months of his life, he has primarily cried to communicate all things.

That stopped today. Well, not exactly. The crying is still in the repertoire, but the vocabulary seems to be expanding. It’s been happening more frequently over a span of the last few weeks. But today I am sure of it. Dear baby Carter was, in his 3-month-old baby way, talking. To mom. He was looking her in the eyes and speaking. To which she would respond and he would respond and so on. Sure, mom’s words were coherent (and his were not), but that’s no matter.

Nonsense. From the ground up, that was my source of joy today. Which got me to thinking how nice it would be to find some sort of incoherent nonsense in all of our days. Some sort of absolute silliness that makes no sense at all other than that it is our daily dose of nonsense.

Suddenly I believed the words of Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein who said that “if people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.”

Because those precious moments made mom cry those same tears I used to lick off her face when she was pregnant. Tears of joy. My favorite kind. I much prefer those tears to the ones little Carter makes sometimes. I’ve even been known to hide under the bed sometimes when he cries.

So today when he chose to use what will one day become his primary source of communication, I too felt a small bit of relief. And pride. And joy. From the ground up, it didn’t matter that it was complete and utter nonsense. It was joy embodied in screeches and babbles. It was another example of the wonder of human communication. It was life.

For a sample of the new little conversationalist: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=573841715697&l=3886000390073174814

 

Hello World March 11, 2014

Today I thought I’d let baby Carter do the talking. He’s getting pretty good at it.

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Thoughts on Happiness

“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy and…you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” Helen Keller

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” Omar Khayyam

“There is only one happiness in this life; to love and be loved.” George Sand

“Love is trembling happiness.” Khalil Gibran

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness you are able to give.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Please consider sharing joy with someone today.

 

The Color Blue December 2, 2013

There is usually crying. And some yelling. And some choice words. It’s not a pleasant thing to witness, and yet I am at the mercy of those engaged it the middle of it all. I have no choice but to stand by and observe. Arguments.

They doesn’t happen often in the Schmidt home, but when they do they definitely fall into a category of conversations I would prefer to never have heard. Yet I remain by both mom and dad (a tricky place to be in such situations), steadfast and true. I love them both with equal halves of my heart and never take sides.Listen Here

Except for once. I remember because it was a dreary early winter day like today a few years ago. The grey mood of the sky was directly reflective of the emotional context of my forever family. Mom had been blue for a while. And not blue like the color. She was sad. I think I knew it before dad because us canines have a way of sensing these things. She was tired a lot. She wasn’t as responsive to my attempts to engage in chase or pickle in the middle. It seems that place called work was among the things that had worn her down into a shell-like version of herself.

So I sided with dad the day he confronted her about it. I hated seeing her that way, and she needed to hear everything he had to say. It wasn’t comfortable for any of us, yet I know that was a day we will not soon forget. It will stick with us for all of the right reasons and none of the wrong. And it wasn’t fun.

Crying, yelling and choice words were among the key players. I remember wishing I could be somewhere (anywhere) else but in that room. But then I remember the color blue mom was then and see how happy she is now and I realize how important those conversations can be.

“The character of a man is known from his conversations,” suggested Ancient Greek dramatist Menander. In that case, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that sometimes the toughest conversations are the most important ones to have. They show love, not hate. They show concern, not contempt. And ultimately they lead to joy, even if it doesn’t seem that way in the moment.

 

Try Try Again October 30, 2013

I had it out with the neighbor dog today. Twice. That’s right – Demon Dog and I had words. Well, I’m sure it sounded like barks to the outside observer. But I could no longer sit idly by and stare at him silently while he goes into his fits of rage from the other side of the fence. I had to do something.

Better to TrySo I walked myself (all right, okay, I ran myself) to the very end of the lead (about 30 feet from my backdoor, and about 20 feet from Demon Dog) and I said some things that needed to be said. I told him I don’t know why he’s so angry. I told him I wished we could be friends. That I would listen to whatever struggles he’d lived through and help him find some joy in new beginnings.

But it ended just like it started, with him pacing and panting and growling and snarling. He even digs around a bit at the hole he’s created underneath the fence that separates us. And his bark? Quite frankly it’s terrifying.

I tried again the next time I was outside, but it seemed to be in vain. Also, my people were very unhappy with my efforts as it is incredibly rare for me to bark at anything besides the animals that occasionally come into the living room via the television.

I don’t understand it. We canines don’t discriminate from one breed to another, but I guess people call his a bully breed. And my experiences have shown me why – not only with my neighbor, but also with the dog who attacked me at the dog park. I thought I was a goner that day when he had me by my collar dangling me around from his perch atop that picnic table.

Obviously I survived to tell the tale, but it bothers me that these dogs – these bullies – are out there making a bad name for others of their breed who are capable of love and compassion. Being known as a bully is not an excuse for bad behavior any more than it should be a label on others with a similar appearance.

So I won’t give up on Demon Dog. I had it out with him today and my message didn’t take. And I know I need to be honest with myself – it may never take. But as American actress Shay Mitchell put it “I realized that bullying never has to do with you. It’s the bully who’s insecure.”

He’s strong and confident (at least from what I can tell by his barking habits), but there must be something more there. A past. Some memories. A story that may explain where he came from and why he is the way he is. We all do. And in a world that frequently uses labels as excuses, I’m taking a stand for new beginnings. It’s better to try and fail than to never have tried at all.