Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Game of Direwolves May 23, 2014

It’s kind of like those so-called “smart” phones. Or those newfangled fancy video gaming systems. Or any other kind of technology that discourages actual person-to-person contact. Otherwise known as one of those people things I kind of wish were never invented.

I feel this way about a lot of people technology, including the aforementioned devices. But every now and then I retract my opinion.

Like when there is a fun commercial of that includes a dog on the moving picture window in the living room (otherwise known a TV). Or when a message from one of moms gal pals on her smart phone makes her giggle. Or when dad defeats a level in a video game. All of these things seem to bring the people I love a sense of joy.

As does this show my people have been watching lately. I don’t get it. But, like so many people things in life, I suppose I don’t have to. Because they do. And it seems to bring them joy, or happiness, or at least theatrical enjoyment for the time being.
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Game of Thrones. Apparently it is some sort of phenomenon. Anyone who’s been with me for a while could probably guess what I take from it. It’s probably not what most people take from it, which is something about power and the scary things it can do to people.

Instead I side with the direwolves. I should probably mention my people are not all the way through the series, and therefore I don’t know whether this remains true. But at least from what I can tell in the middle of the second season I know this is my truth.

The direwolves are my heroes. They are strong and fearless and loyal. I think the loyalty might be what I most respect. Above all, they protect their people.

It doesn’t always bring me the sincerest of joy when my people chose to watch them (and the rest of the Game of Thrones cast) on a Friday night, but I was reminded when it happened tonight that it is not about me.

If I am to live as those I respect and idolize, like the direwolves, nothing is really about me. (Gasp, this is tough to digest in some ways). But that’s okay. Because I have so much in my life to be thankful for it’s ridiculous.

Like today when I was outside with my people as they cared for the lawn. Carter was asleep in his room and they were happy in a way they used to be before the little person was in the picture. Mom even took a few minutes of alone time in her hammock in my backyard paradise.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I am not that big a fan of technology. Because (at least in my humble opinion) it takes precious time away from personal interaction.

Like those so-called “smart” phones. Or those newfangled fancy video gaming systems. Or any other kind of technology that discourages actual person-to-person contact. But every now and then these things surprise me with their very own silver lining. Like tonight when all the work was done outside and my people came inside to watch an episode of this “Game of Thrones.”

It was bloody and gory and depressing to me. But those direwolves brought to life for me what I would like to think viewers get from the show. They live and breathe loyalty and life. I’m not sure what else you can ask for when it comes to confusing people television.

 

In God’s Hands November 2, 2013

It’s normal for leaves to fall from the sky in my part of the world this time of year. Especially in my backyard paradise, where we have a few exceptionally large trees. As a result, a blanket of gold and orange currently coats the grass (or so my people tell me – it’s kind of tough for me to decipher these colors). But the leaves weren’t the only thing to fall from the sky today.

I was ruffling around in my backyard (aka leaf blanket) this morning when I got a surprise visit from two of my favorite little people and their parents. Apparently it wasn’t a surprise to my people, but they hadn’t said anything about Sophie and Sam coming by to spend the day with us. I suppose this may have been a proactive decision, as the mention of their names may have sent me into an excited panic until they arrived. But that’s neither here nor there.

Cuddles with SophieAfter their parents left, we sat together – Sam, Sophie, my dad, my mom and I – in the living room for a bit. (All right, more like cuddled. I nuzzled my way into Sophie’s lap pretty much the second she sat down). The television was turned to the local news station (where I’m proud to say my aunt works) and they were interviewing season 8 American Idol finalist Danny Gokey.

“God’s written a beautiful story for people,” he told the interviewer, “you just have to walk into it and embrace it.” I was touched by this idea, as I am a believer in embracing the good in all people, places, and things that make up my life story. But then she said it and my heart really turned to mush.

“When I was little,” nine-year-old Sophie said, “I used to think God had the world in His hands.” She was sure to clarify that now that she’s grown up she knows God isn’t actually floating in space holding the world in His hands, “but He’s still got us all taken care of.”

The leaves weren’t the only thing falling from the sky today. So was joy. From above. Wherever I looked, it seemed determined to find me in its varied poignant messages. God may not be physically holding the world from his perch in space, but He was certainly present in my mind today. As well as in my heart.

 

The Twilight Zone October 12, 2013

If dogs have a Twilight Zone, I visited mine today. My people were still my people. My forever home was still my forever home. All of my toys were put away in their basket in the living room (I checked). Everything looked the same. But the strangest little thing was different.News? What news?

And I didn’t even notice it at first. I just did what I usually do when the television features an animal. Live or animated. From whales to cows. It doesn’t matter. My normally silent self goes a bit berserk when there is an animal on the television. I have even come to recognize certain music that accompanies commercials with animals and react before I even see that group of dogs invading the screen in my living room.

So it was actually true to form for me to react somewhat aggressively to what I saw on the television. That is, until I realized it was me. There I was, wearing a shirt and tie, reporting the latest updates in the tragic story of the death of NFL star Adrian Peterson’s 2-year-old son.

I woke up the very moment I realize what was happening. I looked around to find I was still in my forever home, lounging peacefully in my doggie bed. I instinctively ran to check the television, but it was turned off. Relief washed over me in confirming it had all been a dream. An incredibly unusual dream.

And it got me to thinking. I hate bad news. I despise scandal. I prefer to avoid thinking about death and loss. I would make an awful news reporter. I’m not too proud to admit it. I seemed all right at it in my dream, but that is the Twilight Zone we’re talking about.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying being tuned in to what is happening in the world is a bad thing. Quite the opposite. But, like anything else, I need balance. We need balance. My people don’t watch a lot of news, but when they do I hear a lot about death and shootings and sickness and the struggling economy. Stories of personal growth or success are few and far between. If you ask me, these news bytes are just as important for us to hear.

Fortunately we are not living in the Twilight Zone. But I think American novelist Charles Dickens would agree with my opinion on modern society. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” Dickens wrote.

Indeed, there is good and bad in each and every day. I just prefer to focus my emotional energy on the good instead of the bad. “What is a weed?” transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson questioned. “(It is) a plant whose virtues have never been discovered.”

 

So Happy Together July 28, 2013

I don’t understand why people call cell phones smart. The way I see it, they distract more than they connect. They take people away from the company they’re with to a cyber place with people somewhere else. And (perhaps most importantly) they detract from my favorite time of day: family time.Family Time Please

It doesn’t happen often, but it did tonight. There we were in the living room. Together. But separate. Mom and dad both were playing around with these so-called Smartphones. I don’t know what they were doing that was so important, but it doesn’t matter to me. Sunday nights are not for cell phones. They are for family time. So I did what any dog would do: I shut that technology party down.

And it was far from easy. In addition to every single one of my toys (which I still don’t understand why dad insists on putting into a basket), I brought out some of my best tricks. I sat and stared at dad. I jumped at him. I pawed at his foot. Nothing. I stared at mom. I jumped at her. I pawed at her foot. Nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing – my mom confused all of my purposeful shenanigans as a desire to be let outside. I dutifully went outside, did my business and then scratched at the door to be let back inside so I could resume my mission. I would not be ignored. Persistence and patience paid off about fifteen minutes later when I finally succeeded in luring them both into a game of pickle in the middle.

This is a favorite game of theirs and (in spite of how frustrating it can be to always play the role of pickle) it is a favorite of mine. They always smile and giggle and I can feel it in the air. There we were in the living room. Together. Joy. In a moment, there it is.

These games never last very long, but as I am an expert in the area of people watching I know what always comes next. Family time. It never stops with the game. It starts with the game. The cell phones get put away (who are you calling smart now?), and we cuddle together as a family. We are so happy together in these moments. Now if only I could figure out a trick to get them to turn off that television.

 

A Big Reveal July 26, 2013

I lick the excess water off my forever parents’ legs when they get out of the shower. I eat grass because I like how it tastes. I can’t resist fabrics that smell like my people. I don’t have many serious secrets. This may come as a surprise since my inability to talk renders me helpless in the gossip category, but (like most dogs) I also wear my heart on my proverbial sleeve.Happy!!!!

So please don’t be mad at me. Truth be told, I have a pretty big secret I’ve been keeping in spite of myself. I thought I’d wait until the perfect words came to me. Or the perfect time. Or for time to come to a screeching halt long enough for me to find the right words. Because this isn’t just any secret. It’s life-changing.

But alas the stars have not yet aligned in a way to empower the grand announcement I’d hoped for and I honestly can’t keep it in anymore. It’s like 17th century French dramatist Jean Racine suggested “there are no secrets that time does not reveal.” I’ve waited, and the time to reveal is now.

I’m going to be a big brother!

The dreams I’ve had of becoming a best friend to a little person of my own are going to become reality in a little more than five months. My mom and dad are having their first very own little person!

I honestly think I knew before mom did. (Dogs have a sixth sense about these things). There was an almost immediate change in her heart rate, her smells, and her general persona. Joy. In a word, that’s what this secret contains. So you can imagine it’s been hard for me to contain my excitement about this for so long. But I figured if mom could do it, so could I.

It’s nothing like my other so-called secrets. Who really cares about my obsession with fabrics that smell like my people, my occasional craving for grass, or how I help my people dry off after showers. This is big news. This is life. Joy. Family. I’m so excited to become a big brother, but even more so for my little person to feel the love in this forever home of mine. Mom is home to me, and I know she will be home to the little person. January 16, here we come!

 

The Company We Keep July 5, 2013

Advertising works. I’ve seen it happen in forever home enough to know it to be true. That latest miracle face cream appearing in the bathroom a few days after the commercial. The occasional trip for ice cream after a tempting tease between classic “Friends” episodes. Even that new kind of dog food that (definitely doesn’t taste as good but) is supposed to be better for me.

This came to my mind as I made the best of my people deciding to watch entirely too much television when they got home from that place called work today. Here it is, a gorgeous afternoon and evening, squandered away with mindless chatter. We could have gone for a walk, or to the dog park, or on a car ride! But as I’m in the habit of finding the silver lining in things, I pawed my way into the perfect cuddle spot between my two favorite people and joined in the (albeit incredibly boring) family activity.

Watching TVCommercials always have a way of catching my attention (usually because of the animal activity) and tonight I got to thinking about one particular type of commercial that used to be a head-scratcher to me. The dating sites. We all know them. E-Harmony, Match.com, OurTime.com, and ChristianMingle.com are among the first to come to mind (see what I mean about advertising working?). I used to see those commercials and (somewhat mockingly) dream up my own personal ads.

SCM (single canine male), 5 people years, 24 inches, 22 pounds, with floofy tail and point ears seeks a friend for the end of the world. (Nope, sounds too desperate). SCM, 35 doggie years, 24 inches, 22 pounds, with a heart of gold and lots of joy to share seeks a female canine to spoil with love. (Too cheesy?) SCM, mysterious, seeks someone to enjoy the journey with as much as the destination. (I kind of like this one).I'm a Half Full Doggie

All joking aside, I didn’t believe in this cyber-dating concept until recently when I found a new home in the blogosphere. We are family here, friends joining together from all over the world to comment on life’s refreshing moments of silliness and embrace each other in moments of struggle. It reminds me of one of the first moments I found myself just outside my mother’s protective cuddle zone when I was a puppy.

At first I was all alone in the tremendously bright sun feeling miles away from my mom and brothers who had all been cuddled so closely together for what felt like forever. (It was really only the first few days of my life, but time has a way of dragging when all you can do is sleep, eat, and sleep some more). In reality, I only felt far away from my family because of the closeness we had previously shared. Then I remembered I was there, out in the open, with my brothers and mom by my side. Suddenly it wasn’t so scary anymore. I didn’t know it then, but the company I kept in those terrifying moments made them worth living.

“Sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary simply by doing them with the right people,” suggested American actress Elizabeth Green. Advertising has a way of making even the least desirable things seem necessary. But when the rubber meets the road, we don’t need the miracle moisturizer, ice cream cone or even the fancy designer dog food (that tastes like cardboard). We need people in our life to share moments with, even if it means cuddling together in front of the TV instead of enjoying the great outdoors. From our everyday people to the family we create on the world wide web, the company we keep make moments worth living.