Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Life Worth Living August 3, 2013

I learned some unexpected lessons yesterday. I asked for help, and it wasn’t so bad. But the responses to my request, as well as my reaction to them, brought me to some interesting conclusions.

It wasn’t news to me that I have an incredible support system made up of larger than life hearts and creative minds. I’ve known that for a while. But my defensive emotional response when it was suggested that I take a break? I wasn’t expecting that. Let my mind rest until new stories come to me? Stories happen around me every day – I just need to pay attention. Alone With My Thoughts

Indeed it has crossed my mind to take a day or two off from my 365-day journey, but I realize (or perhaps just reaffirm) now that I am stubborn about finishing what I’ve started. Being stubborn is not a very attractive quality to be sure, but I’ve never been a quitter and I have no intention of becoming one now. How can I be when I have words like commitment, perseverance and passion on my mind?

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor,” suggested American football coaching legend Vince Lombardi. My chosen field of endeavor is bringing joy to the world, and I can’t exactly do that if I don’t challenge that little blinking cursor of doom I know as the occasional case of writer’s block. You will not defeat me writer’s block.

It’s no Armani neck tie. It doesn’t hold a cake to a Gucci handbag. It’s definitely not an Hermes scarf. Stubborn is one of those people accessories that just doesn’t look good on anyone. And yet I can’t give up. Instead I’ve decided to be stubborn about that in spite of how it looks on me.

So when I struggle I shall instead embrace excellence in simplicity by taking a page from American naturalist and essayist John Burroughs. “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see,” said Burroughs. I know I have a lot more thoughts to think, places to go, things to learn and friends to make in this life. These are the things that make life worth living.

This post is dedicated to my pal Trev, who shared with me the John Burroughs quote in addition to his friendship. Thanks for being you, dear Trev.

 

The Little Engine August 2, 2013

I need your help.

I didn’t realize it until recently when I spent almost three hours staring at a blank screen while the little flashing cursor laughed in my face. Writer’s block happens to dogs too. And (as is usually the case in matters of stubbornness), the answer to my troubles seemed obvious. Yet it also somehow seemed impossible. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t bring myself to ask for help.Will You Help Me?

Instead I kept having that same internal conversation – they will think less of me the weak little doggie with writer’s block. They will think I’m giving up. And (worst of all) they will be disappointed in me.

Ironically, I’ve always thought asking for help seemed like such an easy thing to do. It’s always seemed like such an easy thing to do. And (unless you’re Superman or Wonder Woman) it is generally necessary. It’s one thing to be the little engine that could, but even that special little engine needs to stop for gas every now and then. It made perfect sense to me.

Then the last seven months of blogging happened and changed everything. I set out to share my perspective on joy from the ground up. But (as the little flashing cursor mocked me) I realized never did I say the stories I share need only be mine. Like most dogs, I live a simple life in which I enjoy simple pleasures. So do a lot of people. We have this foundation in common, but the design from there differs by life experience.

So today I paws to ask for your help. For your ideas. For your stories. Please, share them with me so I can share my perspective on them with the world.

Because sometimes no matter how hard it tries the little engine that could just can’t. That’s why there are stations along the journey to rest and refuel. In life we all need to stop and refuel every now and then to keep delivering our best to the world. It’s never easy to admit, especially for those who thrive on being miracle workers. But it doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you any less of a person. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up. Quite the opposite in fact. You’re breathing new life into a tried and true perspective. I would argue that makes you stronger than ever.

 

Hope in Gratitude January 14, 2013

Hope in GratitudeWriting can be a bit like life. Some days are like poetry, weaving experiences together in the most beautiful (albeit sometimes ironically morbid) of prose. Those days can be easier than others to write things worth reading. Other days are like the worst case of writer’s block. Nothing among the list of one’s ordinary function comes easy. Even waking up (or picking up a pen and paper) sounds absolutely impossible on “one of those days.”

Either way, I’m starting to notice how easy it is to find something to bring a ray of sunshine into even the cloudiest case of writer’s block. I say this because if its possible for a dog to have what humans refer to as “one of those days,” that was my life today. Instead of shattering a glass on the hardwood or breaking a nail (which I’ve heard can be quite painful for womenfolk), I struggled to find any inspiration in today.

Mom journeyed back to this place she calls work today. I missed her terribly. After all the time off for her leg surgery, I realize I’d gotten spoiled with people time during the day. But to make matters worse, I could tell things didn’t go well by her emotional state when she came home over her lunch break. And again when she came home from work well after the sun went down. And I will be the first to admit it: a tough day on her takes a toll on me. I can easily slip into a darker way of thinking, wishing more than anything I can somehow be that lantern of love I’ve pledged to be while at the same time not having any idea of how to light the match.

Then something hits me. A ray of sunshine makes its way through the cloudy darkness that is the blank screen or notepad mocking me with its silence. Today it was two things combining in perfect harmony, just like poetry coming together on the page: music and good writing. Two obvious things that inspire me (and lots of other thoughtful writers, poets and songwriters), but as I am embracing simplicity this year I find solace in (even) these most obvious of things. Miracles happen in simple moments like this.

I was reading today’s thoughts on Simple Abundance, which focus on finding specific things to be thankful for in even the cloudy days while listening to “Tell Me a Story” on Phillip Phillips’ album.

“Hope is just a ray of what everyone should see
alone is the street where you found me
scared of what’s behind you
and scared of what’s in front
live with what you have now
and make the best of what’s to come.”

Phillips sings to me his guitar-stringed thoughts on the world, and I find myself so grateful for his words that I want to share them with anyone who reads. Quite the paradox, since today’s Simple Abundance entry cites the thoughts of author Melody Beattie.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow,” she said.

Tantalizing little cursor on a blank screen? You’re no match for me. Trouble lighting the match for my lantern of love? Forget about it. There is hope in gratitude, even on a day like today.