Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Moments Like These October 31, 2014

As goblins and ghouls take to the record-settingly chilly streets of my beloved neighborhood for trick or treat tonight, I pause and remember a truth of mine I don’t think I’ve ever shared before. I used to be afraid of the dark. I know it’s an unusual thing for a dog, and I’ve spent the greater part of my canine adult life trying to figure out why.Trick or treat

It isn’t like there is a traumatic event or something involving darkness in my past. Nor is there anything in particular I can recall that aided in my recovery from the admittedly silly aversion I once had. Or so I thought. I found myself pondering this as darkness fell today (it falls earlier and earlier this time of year) and I realized I can indeed trace back the day of my new-found fearlessness.

It was the day after I lost Rusty, my pal from the humane society who was the only reason I survived my first night there. He went down a hallway and never came back that day, but his words stayed with me long after I last saw his wagging tail. He encouraged me to find the light. To see the bright side in even the darkest of situations. And that day, I made the decision to do just that.

My persuasion toward light has never faltered, but somehow my choice that day has led me to find the light in the darkness that dissolves my former fears on an almost daily basis.

Like tonight, as I knew craziness was happening in the darkness on the streets of my neighborhood, something special was happening inside the walls of my forever home. The bedtime routine hasn’t changed much, but dad has gotten more involved with it in the last couple of months. That was the case as usual again tonight, as he held Carter and mom said his bedtime prayers. Carter put his little head on dad’s shoulder and left it there as he drifted peacefully into dreamland almost instantly upon mom’s recital of the prayer. I stood by, as I always do, playing my (albeit silent) role in the whole routine.

I realized in that moment it doesn’t matter how dark it is in the room when this all unfolds. The love illuminates all of our hearts so brightly there is no reason to so much as question the darkness. As we all sneaked silently out of the room, I felt overwhelmed with the warmth of the loving glow in the room. Sometimes I’m in awe of how a decision I made so long ago can have such a profound impact in moments like these.

 

 

A Moment of Magic October 31, 2013

I don’t believe in magic. Not in the traditional sense at least. The whole now you see me, now you don’t idea? What fun is that anyway? But I will never forget the day I discovered a different kind of magic.

To the rest of the world it was Halloween. To me, it was Jo’s eighth birthday. That’s all that mattered. I had been living with her and the man with the leather belt for a few months, and had seen my fair share of things I still wish I hadn’t. But this was a day to remember for all the right reasons.My Kind of Magic

This was the one time I ever witnessed Jo and the man with the leather belt happy at the same time. I was surprised he remembered the day at all, since he was usually pretty forgetful about basic things like having anything besides frozen pizza and beer in the fridge. But alas, he surprised us both. After dinner (he actually cooked something), he got out a pink cupcake with a single candle on it and sang happy birthday to her. I sat by her side, proud and humbled to share in such a special moment. Then he gave her a present. It wasn’t wrapped (it was still in the Toys ‘R Us bag) but that was beside the point.

It was magic. Literally. He gave her a 100-peice magic set. “I had one when I was about your age, so I thought maybe you’d like it,” he told her. She loved it. They spent the next few hours experimenting and doing something I’d never seen them to before. They laughed together.

That was the real magic. Magic is in moments like these. Moments brought to life by a power within us to believe. “Magic flows through us,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance, “mystery infuses every encounter of every day…You have no idea of the countless lives you touch in the course of a lifetime.”

My life was touched that day by something special. I may not believe in the hocus pocus kind of magic, but that day I became a believer in a whole other kind of magic entirely. I became a believer that the power is within us to live this magic in our daily lives. To find and embrace moments of pure joy is a magic all its own.

 

Trick or Treat October 26, 2013

There’s not a lot I would change about myself. I guess you could say love has made me confident. I stand proud, head held high, ears up, tail wagging. And no one is going to break me down. I am who I am.

I can’t say it’s always been that way. I, like anyone, have had my fair share of ups and downs with self esteem. (Being thought of as a clearance puppy comes to mind). But I’ve come to understand all of my past as an important part of my present. Challenge builds character, whether or not we like it (or realize it) at the time.

This is why I was initially a little confused by this thing called Halloween. People dress up as all kinds of things other than who they really are. Ghosts and goblins and vampires and witches. Why not instead celebrate who they are rather than focusing time, energy (and from what I understand sometimes a great deal of money) on the perfect costume?

I’ll tell you why. It’s fun. There is something kind of dangerous and exciting about putting yourself aside to become another character, if only for a day.

So today I became the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. It is a character with whom I identify closely, especially as I have begun to better understand the relationship between fear and purpose. Like me, the lion began his story blinded by a fear that had a negative hold on his self esteem. It took courage for him to understand that fear has no place in life. Given my own personal backstory, it was the perfect costume.

My trick or treat dates (otherwise known as a few of my favorite little people) were also dressed to impress. They included a ninja warrior, a flapper girl and Scarlett O’Hara. Together, we walked the streets of Grandma Schmidt’s neighborhood collecting a plethora of goodies that I can’t have.

I didn’t mind that (too much) though. Because it was fun. And underneath by lion getup I was still me. A little dog with a big heart. Even “in character” I want to share joy from the ground up with whomever will take it. I think that’s the secret to this whole Halloween thing.

Rather than seek to change everything about who you are, you ought to find a creative way to embrace it. Stand proud, with your head held high and your heart beating strong. Because at the end of the day we are ourselves again. And (whether we realize it or not) who we are is something pretty special.

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