Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Words Themselves August 17, 2014

There is this thing about words. In their way they make the world go round. And in other ways, they make the world come to a screeching halt. It’s the kind of parody that can only be in the paradox in itself that is language. Mind you, this is coming from your resident doggie optimist, who himself is incapable of anything other than nonverbal communication.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t witness every single day the power that is words. They can bring light or darkness into a room in an instant. They can bring laughter or joy, or tears and sadness. It really depends on the situation which emotion is evoked by which words. Happy Doggie

I think that is what makes poetry such a special and valuable part of human existence. I can’t necessarily say the same for us four-leggers, as we have much simpler lives with relatively less obstacles before us. The same cannot be said of most of the two-legged people with whom I have come into contact in my time in this life. They have good and bad and ugly things happen that all make poetry in both  brilliant and bittersweet ways.

It’s kind of funny in light of this book I come across every single day on the bookshelf in the living room of my forever home. It’s called “Inside of a Dog,” and I suppose the idea is to dissect the  brain of us four-legged best friends of men. The concept kind of makes me laugh inside, since it is one that sounds about as simple as me dissecting what is happening inside the mind of one of my forever people. They both keep me guessing on a daily basis and (if I’m being honest) it’s more fun that way.

This is why I know my perspective on words is the true and sincerest one you will come across. Because I know in my heart that words are powerful. They might be even more powerful than the emotions behind them. They can bring the world to an emotionally screeching halt, after all. But that is why the poetry behind the words is so valuable.

I think sometimes it can be all too easy to forget the meaning behind the things people say. I wouldn’t know since my only mode of communication is nonverbal. But I see it every single day. The words themselves don’t mean nearly as much as the meaning behind them. So mind what you say, dear friends. Because whether you know it or not, people are listening.

 

No Words November 14, 2013

I don’t have a choice. All I get is my eyes, my tail, and the occasional strategic placement of my head or paws. Any other methods of communication are hard to come by when you have four legs. So I have to admit, days like today take a toll on my emotions.

We canines may not be able to see the entirety of the color spectrum, but I know with certainty that I saw my fair share of blue today. Mom is feeling blue, which is apparently a people term used to explain her emotionally cloudy forecast. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that little person inside her is somehow bringing down her morale. No Words

Because she’s been talking a whole lot about worry. She’s worried about the baby’s health. And being a good parent. And labor. And the money. Especially the money. Last I checked, money is green so I don’t know how it could be making her feel so blue. I stand, sit or lay idly by, all-the-while wishing there would be something – anything – I could say to make it better.

Then I hear dad say exactly what I would be saying and suddenly I don’t mind being silent. He tells her to calm down. Relax. Everything will work out. These are the things I would be telling her, too, if I could. But this is not the first time (and certainly won’t be the last) that there are no words. As I observed from dad’s attempt, it’s sometimes better not to say anything than to complicate the situation by throwing words in the mix. Sometimes a person just needs a hug.

I don’t have a choice. All I have is my eyes, my tail, and the strategic placement of my head or paws to communicate. And maybe that’s not so bad after all. Because as much words can help, they can also complicate things. Especially when it’s more a matter of faith than anything else. Faith takes no words. Faith is simply believing in the power that is contained in something so much more than words.

So tonight I keep quiet and instead silently pray for resolutions to come to some of mom’s worries. That peace come to her overwhelmed heart. But I can’t pray with my eyes, tail and paws any more than I can pray with words. Instead tonight I pray with my heart. “Prayer is not asking,” Mahatma Gandhi reflected, “It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of  one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

 

No Backspace Button October 20, 2013

I stick my foot in my mouth all the time. Literally. It’s part of my daily grooming routine. A nibble here and there is as second nature to me as scratching an itchy ear with my foot or licking a sore paw. But I’m no dummy.

Keyboard of LifeI know the same can not be said of people, who have the luxury of hands to do a lot of these types of things. Also, I think it would be pretty challenging (albeit funny) to see them try. Literally. I think it would be a struggle.

And yet it apparently happens all the time. Figuratively. As a professional people watcher, I have picked a few things up over the years and this is one of the most interesting to me. People say really stupid things. Whether its something they don’t really mean said in an argument or a random comment out of the blue, it happens all the time. And for as often that I wish I could speak, I glory in my silence when I happen to overhear these moments of ignorance.

That’s just it. Ignorance. And let me tell you, from what I’ve seen of it, ignorance is not bliss. Nor does it excuse the behavior of saying things you don’t mean. I think that’s the challenging part. More often than not, regret follows this note of ignorance. But the moment has passed and the words were said and they cannot be taken back. Words are powerful tools, and when they get used as weapons context gives way to emotion. It makes for a very messy situation.

It brings to mind the wise words of Audrey Hepburn who suggested that “for beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness. And for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

I’ve thought about it and now it’s time to speak up. I might look silly nibbling on my back paw from time to time, but it turns out people do it all the time too. And it hurts. But it isn’t the end of the world either. It happens. A lot. And while that doesn’t excuse anything, it does make us very familiar with the practice of moving on. I’ve always said everything is worthwhile if a lesson is learned. Well, in this case I think the lesson is crystal clear. Think before you speak. Because you can’t take it back. There is no backspace button on the keyboard of life.

 

A Deconstructed Ocean May 2, 2013

One person’s nonsense is another person’s art. I realized that today as I powered through the puddles in my backyard in a mad dash to catch the group of rabbits who seemed to be throwing some sort of pool party. Silly rabbits, I thought to myself, I’m going to get you! But as they scattered to their hiding places in the corners of the yard I felt the slightest bit of guilt for breaking up their fun.

I don’t usually have feelings of remorse in situations like this, so it definitely took me by surprise. We’ve all been like those rabbits at some point or another, I realized as I sloshed back through the lake that seemed to appear in the backyard in a matter of minutes. (The sky is not crying today. It’s bawling.)

Playing With WordsI remember a time when water turned me into a thoughtless nincompoop too. Not too long after my forever parents adopted me, they took me aboard something I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around. One minute we were enjoying a beautiful car ride, and the next minute there we were, the three of us, on what they called a boat. I couldn’t believe my little doggie eyes. The water was dazzling. The sunlight sparkled off each and every little peak in the water in the most breathtakingly fabulous way. I had to get closer – I had to feel the magic! Once, twice, three times, I jumped off the boat into the water for no other reason than that I was mesmerized by its beauty.

In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the best plan of action as that was my one and only experience on the boat with them. I also better understand now why the two people I love most in the whole world yelled at me like they did that day. I’m not the best swimmer (I can’t manage to keep my backside from sliding down behind me), and they were both fearing the worst.

Gratefully, the worst is far from what happened. Instead, I took with me the image of all those beautiful diamonds glittering on the water. The lake in the backyard looks nothing like my ocean memory, but a metaphor came to life in my heart today as I considered the fun those rabbits were having before I crashed the party.

Words are like water to me. I haven’t always liked how they make me feel, but I need them to survive. They can bring the worst, but they can sparkle in such a mesmerizing way it takes my breath away. And they’re so darned fun to play with (which must be why those rabbits were throwing that silly pool party in the puddles). I did an experiment today that brought poetry to life with the most interesting combination of articles, adjectives and nouns. I asked some of the people in my life put together a mad lib of sorts today without really knowing it. The result? A fluffy tree sings to an affectionate Tiger licking Pumpernickel bread. I don’t care if I sound like those rabbits looked at their pool party in the rain. This nonsense is artwork to me.

 

Go Go Gadget Gratitude January 24, 2013

I don’t understand much about the adventures of Inspector Gadget, but I’ve got to hand it to the guy for his go-go-gadget attitude. Even amidst the most challenging situation, he seemed to remain calm and positive because he had some pretty positive things up his sleeve. I found myself pondering that today and I couldn’t help but wonder how different our lives would be if we too had our own personal arsenal of positivity up our sleeve. Like an omnipresent reminder of all the blessings its so easy to forget amidst the monotonous chaos of a day.

So today I shall take ten minutes to “bless my circumstances” as Sarah Ban Breathnach puts it in Simple Abundance.

Ready, set, go….

1) Unbirthdays. Every day I wake up is a blessing.

2) Peanut butter.

3) Family. My mom, dad and all the other people in my life who love me. You know who you are.

4) Friends. Buddy, Indy, Diesel, Atlas, Lupy, Gus….this could take a while, so I’m going to move along with my list…

5) Wordsmiths of all backgrounds, genres, and mediums. Poets, authors, musicians, artists, and word geeks alike. You are all an inspiration.

6) Peanut butter.

7) Toys. Flea, Mrs. Prickles, Mr. Prickles, Miss Piggy, and Kermit.

8) Peas. Dad (almost) always gives me his leftover peas after mom and dad have dinner. (Don’t tell him I told you that – it is one of our little secrets).

9) Snow

10) The dog park

11) Playtime with mom and dad

12) Peanut butter

13) Popsicles. Mom (almost) always gives me the last few licks of these frozen bits of deliciousness. (Don’t tell her I told you that – it is one of our little secrets).

14) Simple Abundance and all its teaching me

15) This blog

16) Everyone who reads and supports this blogFeeling Thankful Today

17) Peanut butter

18) Car rides

19) My mom’s blue blankie. It smells like her, and its my most favorite thing to cuddle up in on a cold winter’s day

20) My groomer Mary at Paws ‘R Us

21) My forever home

22) Food in my bowl every morning and night

23) Treats

24) Water in my bowl at all times

25) Bedtime with mom and dad

26) Basically any time with mom and dad

27) Basically any time with people

28) Peanut butter

29) Bacon. I don’t get it often but when I do, it’s life changing.

30) Ice cream

31) Did I mention peanut butter yet?

32) Love, wherever I can get it

33) Joy, wherever I can give it

And that’s time. Phew, ten minutes sure flies by when you’re using it to fill up your arsenal of positivity. Go go gadget gratitude!

 

Silently Speaking: Life’s Little Reminders January 3, 2013

I’m a glass-half-full kind of dog. I wake up each day and make a heartfelt commitment to see the good in people, places and things. But even our best intentions get challenged. For me, a constant challenge to my outlook on life is silence. I hate not being able to talk. Perhaps that’s why I find such comfort in writing down my thoughts…because the silence drives me bonkers.Smiling for Silence

What I find most ironically disturbing about silence is how it can be more powerful than words. As a lover of words, I can’t help but wonder why is it that silence speaks so loudly?

I take the challenge. I am going to find something good to say about silence. Let us welcome Sir Francis Bacon to the conversation. Talk about finding the good in people. The English philosopher wore many hats, including one of disgrace following his political career. Yet somehow, he remains thought of as the creator of empiricism and respected for his influence on philosophy and science.

“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom,” he once said. Well, I like sleep. And I love wisdom. In fact, I think my passion for wisdom got me in some trouble recently.

I noticed today that I have been one day ahead of myself in my journey with Simple Abundance. Clearly the problem is not my obvious enthusiasm for this journey of my mine. But that got me to thinking about life’s little reminders to hit the pause button from time to time. To be still in this super-sized, action-packed, fast-forward world. To respect the silence.

And we’re really missing out. Its been my experience that (even though silence is not my favorite thing) sometimes the stillness speaks to us in ways no words can interrupt. Southern novelist Mark Twain knew a thing or two about this. “The right word may be effective,” he said, “but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” So today I pause my Simple Abundance experience and (in doing so) find something good to say about silence.