Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Playing with Fire May 22, 2013

What is it about fire that is so tanlizingly mesmerizing? I find myself gazing at it, watching the flickers and sparks, and I can’t take my little doggie eyes off it. I’ve been staring at it all day, while falling in and out of sleep from its warmth. Maybe it’s the novelty of it, since we don’t have a fireplace at my forever home. I’m currently spending a couple of days with my grandma and my cousin Buddy at their place, as my parents have gone to a place called a spa and left me behind.

Catching FireAt first, I was kind of bummed to be left behind. This is the week we had all planned to pack up the car and head to a place called South Dakota. We were staying at pet-friendly places along the way, so I could tag along, and (like my people) I’d been looking forward to it for months. But I’ve heard my fair share of jibber jabber from my mom and dad about gas prices being at almost $4 a gallon (whatever that means), and I can’t help but deduce that is what nailed the coffin in our great American road trip. Instead, they settled for a quick mid-week getaway to a spa that’s a couple hours away. Mom calls it her “happy place” and I could tell how happy she was that she convinced dad to like it too.

The more time I’ve spent getting treats from grandma, playing chase with Buddy, and staring at this big beautiful fireplace, the less sad I am that I’m not cooped up in a car for all that time. Don’t get me wrong, car rides are among my most favorite things in the world, but a dog also needs to get outside and stretch his (or her) legs. The ride would have been about 27 hours round-trip, and that is a lot by anyone’s standards.

And now, as I stare at the sparks in the fire, my thoughts turn to how happy I am that they are happy, wherever they are. Which brings me full circle to my very reason for blogging in the first place.

“The spark divine dwells in thee: let it grow,” wrote great American poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox. When I started this blog, I set out to share 365 days of my unique perspective on joy from the ground up–my divine spark–with whomever wanted it. The response has been overwhelming. The friends and family I’ve made have been powerful additions to my life. For me, this blog is like those sparks I’ve been watching all day in the fire. They’ve caught fire in their own little doggie blog way, and I can only hope the fire of joy is burning in at least a few more hearts now than before I started this journey.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures December 28, 2012

Existentialism fascinates me. The philosophical theory that experiences define one’s existence was strongly influenced by German novelist Frank Kafka who said, “we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.” Well, that is the story of my year.

Good, bad or indifferent, 2012 was a year of firsts for me. I travelled to exciting new places, I earned the right to sleep in my parent’s room (instead of that blasted crate), and I had brushes with death that made me place a higher value on life. Its tough to pick just one “high” or “low” point, so I have chosen to review my most memorable moments as a means to recognize these existential moments that define my existence.

Memory lane 2012 began with me longing for the snow we saw at the start of 2011.

The great February blizzard of 2011 was very great indeed. I was disappointed by the lack of snow we saw this year, but the extra time exploring the great outdoors later in the year proved worth the wait…

In June, I took my first camping trip to Mirror Lake near Wisconsin Dells. I loved every second of it! All the new smells, sights, sounds….I know mom and dad were worried about me being quiet in the tent with them, but I was so exhausted after all our hiking on the trails that I paid little attention to the sounds of the night. Life lesson: Variety really is the spice of life.

In July, I got a haircut…while not my first, it was one of the shortest cuts I’ve ever had. I felt so free. Life lesson: “Beauty isn’t worth thinking about; what’s important is your mind. You don’t want a fifty-dollar haircut on a fifty-cent head” – Garrison Keillor.

In August, I met Diesel…one of my mom’s pals’ new puppy. I relished our moments together when I was bigger than him. He’s a chow/lab mix, so I knew he’d be bigger than me almost instantly. But I look forward to having him as a lifelong mate. Life lesson: “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down,” – Oprah Winfrey.

September was an especially exciting month. I went to my first race at Elkhart Lake. While I’m not sure I understand the point of the cars going around and around the track, it was my kind of day. I got to be somewhere new with my people in the gorgeous outdoors. The Friday night football game about a week later held a similar appeal – one of the little people in the family was playing in the game, so it was even more exciting to be there to root him on. Life lesson: I like race days and football. Simple as that.

In October, I travelled with my family way up north and impersonated president Lincoln on the World’s Largest Penny. It was also around this time that my mom finally convinced my dad to let me sleep in their bedroom with them instead of having me sleep in a crate in a room down the hall. It might seem silly, but that is a big deal to me. Life lesson: Appreciate the small things-they may not be as tiny as they seem.

Remember that though by Kafka about the bites and stings? November quite literally brought a few of those for me. It was uncharacteristically warm in Wisconsin, so I had a few teeny tiny little unwelcome visitors take shelter in my fur. Not one, not two, but three deer ticks I had to contend with this fall. Fortunately for me, my mom and dad pet me on such a regular basis that they found them all and removed them before it became a bigger problem.

Mid-month brought my biggest struggle. It was one of the first frigid days of the winter season, but I was still so excited to go to one of my most favorite places in this whole world: the dog park. Mom kept talking about how it was the last time of the year, so I prepared myself for some fun. It was disappointing to get there and have there only be two other dogs to play with, but I didn’t care. I ran right up on the picnic table to greet a breed I know to be called a pit bull and was unpleasantly surprised with the result. It’s hard for me to tell what happened next, because I kind of blacked out, but I’ve overheard my mom tell the story enough times to know it wasn’t pleasant. From what she’s said, that pit bull had me dangling four feet in the air by its teeth, while still atop that picnic table for a good minute before I fell to the ground with my tail between my legs. The next thing I can remember is my eye hurting and that nice lady at the vet telling me how lucky I was that the scratch in my eye wasn’t worse…I could have lost my sight. Life lesson: Seeing is believing.

But November also brought a high for me in all the extra time I got to spend with mom while she’s been on what I have now heard her call a leave of absence for recovery on her leg surgery. Life lesson: If you look for it, joy actually is all around.

Such became the stepping stone for my blog, which I would call December’s most memorable moment. And so it is…here we are at the end of December reflecting on the year. At its most basic application, existentialism claims one is defined by his or her experiences. And with that, I would agree that 2012 experiences have contributed to who I am – good, bad, or indifferent.