Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Peace on Earth December 24, 2014

It is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. It is not the absence of war, (but rather) a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice. It begins with a smile.

Peace. From the ground up, minds filled with a lot more wisdom than mind have a few things to say about it. Like civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. And Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza. And Catholic visionary Mother Theresa.20141224_170645

Like joy, I know peace takes many forms. It looks different to everyone depending on his or her life experiences and overall perspective on the world around them. It’s Christmas Eve around here, and though we don’t have any snow (an incredibly unusual occurrence in Wisconsin this time of year) on the ground, celebrations are in high gear.

But I can’t help but think about what happens in a couple days. After all the ribbons and bows are torn from their presents. After the holly jolly music has fled the airwaves. After the turkeys and hams and other holiday goodies are all long gone. Trees and decorations get put away, and a big empty hole can stand in its place.

It all brings to mind the words of Buddha, who suggested “peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

I hear it in the stillness of snowflakes falling around me in my backyard paradise. I feel it in my heart when my forever family is together and happy. I see it in smiles and laughter. I find peace all around me, and I know it is because it starts in my heart.

This may seem to many like a time of year for embracing all things worldly, but to me it’s just as important to remember where it all starts. The reason for the season. The love and joy and peace and all things holly and jolly. The life this season is capable of breathing into our souls is like no other.

Like the thinkers who are wiser than me suggested, it is how we arrive at a goal. It is a state of mind that can present itself in something as simple as a smile. And, as Mahatma Gandhi said, it “is its own reward.”

So from my little family to yours, I wish you a very Merry (and peaceful) Christmas.

 

You Can’t Put Christmas Away (Revisited) July 8, 2013

Sleigh bells ring. Are you listening? I haven’t caught mom listening to Christmas music in a while, but occasionally I hear the sleigh bells ringing anyway. I close my eyes and I can smell freshly baked pumpkin pie (which I do occasionally get to sample). I can hear Christmas carols. I can see everyone gathering around the Christmas tree to open presents. The smiles each of these things ignite are presents in themselves.

My eyes were opened to it today when my forever mom and dad and I were playing one of my favorite games. Simply put, its a game of give and take. Its one of very few things I remember learning from my birth mom before I got separated from her. I was instructed to give an object to one of my brothers, they were instructed to give it back to me, and then I could play. It was like I was getting permission to take whatever object it was I wanted. And ultimately, I gave to receive.

To this day, I give Mrs. Prickles and all my other toys to mom and she gives it back to me and at that point I nurse on it, lay on it, or (only every once in a while) rip it to shreds. It is a habit that I don’t see changing any time soon, because I think the action itself is sound. Employing the balance of give and take is not such a bad thing, after all. But as my thoughts drifted back to the true joy of Christmas, I realized the logic behind the behavior is completely backward. I give to receive? I don’t think so.Christmas Joy

That’s not what the joy of Christmas is all about. That’s not what I am all about. Sleigh bells ring, and I’m listening. I’m craving pumpkin pie, Christmas carols and family time.

It was almost seven months ago when mom didn’t want to take down the Christmas tree when dad said it. You can’t put Christmas away. I vowed that day not to put Christmas away, but instead to live and breathe the joy that is Christmas all year long. To love actively. And to make time to share joy and love with whomever will take it in hopes that my words might inspire someone else to do the same. I don’t know how I’ve fared with these goals other than that I do continue to feel the spirit of Christmas living in me each day this year. It’s true. You can’t put Christmas away.

To go back and read more about my goals for 2013: http://wileyschmidt.com/2012/12/31/you-cant-put-christmas-away-goals-for-2013/

To read about when I caught my silly mom listening to Christmas music in June: http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/06/01/joy-to-the-world/comment-page-1/