Sunday, June 25, 2017

One Hope, One Flame: The Future of Us

A few years ago I had the opportunity to travel into the Yukon Territory, covering many miles through a rugged and pristine landscape.  Coming to a rest stop for lunch, we watched sled dogs being trained at young ages to provide muscle and energy to transport people and supplies to various areas of this rugged region.  In the yard were puppies socializing with others in their group as they watched and mimicked the adult dogs.  The older dogs were excited, leaping about, waiting to pull a sled full of visitors.  When selected by the trainers, these dogs were harnessed together and to the sled.  Boundless energy being bound to a shared goal: pulling and straining together, moving a seemingly immovable weight.

In the midst of this chaotic and controlled frenzy, I came across a different scene: a mother dog with a pup between her legs.  An embrace?  For protection?  A timeout?  Was the tired mother showing her offspring how to settle down?  The mother was asleep, but the pup remained alert.  Not struggling to set itself free, simply watching the visitors and the other dogs.

An embrace?  For protection?  A time out?
In any case, a moment to slow down and remain alert.
This travel memory came to mind this past week as world news continued to swirl around:  conflicting views of military encounters, terrorist attacks, upcoming health care decisions...  I became exhausted as I tried to take it all in!

Whether we embrace differing views, search for ways to protect our loved ones, or require a timeout from this frenetic activity, perhaps it is time to slow down, remain alert... and focus.  Like the mother dog holding her pup, the discipline to slow down provides us time to rediscover a value or hope we may want to embrace, protect, and share.  Maybe it is time... to reach out comforting arms and speak words that encourage.  Maybe it is time... to wait and listen.
What value or hope comes to mind as you slow down?  Where do you find inspiration and energy?

One Hope, One Flame:  being protected and nurtured

One hope that I encountered this past week:  Pope Francis had been asked to address TED2017: The Future You.  His reflection, Why the Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone, encourages You (an Individual) to become Us (a Community).

Through dialogue, slowing down and listening, embracing, and protecting, we learn to accept that everyone is needed in this Common-Unity.  In other words, our needs are met only when we share the gifts and resources that we individually possess.  The hands that embrace and protect become the hands that support the Whole.

(Click links to check out TED2017 and Pope Francis' reflection.)

One Hope, One Flame... One Heart

To step out and hope for a better world, Dialogue invites us to seek moments of courage and vulnerability:
  • To say what is important to you... and to listen to what is important to the other person.
  • To see that you have sacred worth and value... and to acknowledge the sacredness and value of others.
  • To believe that each person tries to understand... and to hold tenderly when we misunderstand. 

May this week allow you moments to slow down, to listen, and to remain alert.  May there be moments of dialogue that will bind us together so that we can pull and strain together, removing seemingly immovable objects that weigh us down!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Weighed Down by a Thorny World?

Standing on the ship deck a few miles away from the massive glacier, I reflected on time, weight, significance, and presence.

Time:  for the past hour we had been sailing through a fjord, carved out over millennia by a glacier advancing and retreating.  A pristine landscape had emerged, the product of this living ice field.  Weight:  centuries of snow had pressed down to create this glacier with its icy crevasses and tentacles reaching downward and outward.  I marveled at how the weight provided its movement to advance and retreat.  Significance:  surrounded by Creation -- created and in the act of being created -- I wondered at the significance of my young years in relation to this World Emerging.

A rifle-like crack pierced the silence and a new iceberg was born as it separated itself from the parent glacier.  Centuries of water, dirt, and nutrients floated outward to replenish the Waters Beyond.  Standing on the ship deck a few miles away from this massive glacier and its off-spring, I felt Presence.

Are you feeling the weight of the world pressing down on you?
Years later, I now wonder at the weight that presses down on us:
  • Responsibilities of family, education, career... providing ways to survive this busy and complex world.
  • Recent political divisions or societal mores which polarize us... causing a breaking away and drifting.
  • The magnitude of struggles playing out on the world stage... creating rivulets of distorted significance.
  • Fears about the future...  seeing only dark clouds on the horizon.
Are dark clouds gathering on your horizon?
Time, weight, and significance intersect our lives.... but, I also wonder, have we forgotten the Gift of Presence which advances and nourishes us? 

Dialogue offers an opportunity to rekindle Presence:  to listen to individuals; to hear differing thoughts and emotions; to accept tenderly diverse views; and to move away from defended behaviors that protect one view.  Seen in its fullness, Dialogue replenishes and nourishes only when we accept the presence of the other.

If we change our focus from massive glaciers to lessons nearer to home, we may see that Nature is showing us many ways to coexist.  For example, living in the Southwest, we become familiar with the life cycle of the cactus.  For most of the year (or for many years), we see a prickly, thorny exterior - the plant's outward defense system.  Many cacti species have phenomenal blossoms which invite others to pollinate.  Seeds are produced when the thorny exterior gives way to beautiful flowers and others are invited in.  Potentially, there might be no future if the exterior remained prickly!

Practicing dialogue skills helps us to:
  • Become present and give our time to another.
  • Remove the weight we may carry alone.
  • Let down the thorny protective exteriors we rely on to keep others away.
  • Understand the significance we each bring when we advance and nourish our Emerging World.

Beauty can erupt from the thorniest
of situations!
Consider this week:
  • List any situations that are weighty or thorny in your life.
  • Ask a family member or friend if you might describe one or two of these situations.
  • Invite the other person to ask questions, to help clarify the situation.
    Note: don't try to solve the issue.  Practice:  listening; asking questions; reflecting back what was said.  The focus: being present to one another.

May you be open to Nature and Dialogue this week, where weighty and thorny issues can be transformed into advancement and replenishment!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Content and Context: Flushing Out a New Hand

My family socialized in many ways, but the memories that remain the most vivid are when we played card games, board games, assembled jigsaw puzzles, and tested one another through quizzes and trivia.  As we followed the rules of the various games and contests, we shared daily adventures and insights.  In later years when we returned home to visit my parents, it was natural to gather around the table, engage in these games... but, with our time centered on catching up and renewing relationships.  The games and rules became secondary to the time together as family.

So, no matter if we switched from Hearts to Spades to Poker, we understood the House or Family Rules:  what was acceptable in this time and place (content and context).

These thoughts came to mind when a coworker shared the following quote:  "Remember, a number without context is just a number."  Even though we were discussing software design, my mind made connections to earlier rules or mental constructs:
  • Flush:  5 cards of the same suit (Hearts, Spades, Diamonds, or Clubs)
  • Straight Flush:  5 cards of the same suit  in sequence
  • Royal Flush:  highest possible Straight Flush

Each card has content (a suit and a value), with changing contexts based on the established rules.

Revealing a Winning Hand: Royal Flush

Our lives are much more than a series of events.  Our roles and responsibilities add context to how we understand who we are in relationship to others.  We add meaning based on how we filter and understand these events and relationships. 

For instance:  when we are embarrassed, we may see a situation differently than a person who is not embarrassed.

Our challenge is to change the context: do we hold onto or hide our embarrassment -- or -- can we explain what we are feeling to another person?

When embarrassed, we may not see clearly.
(Photo: The Rhythm of Our Lives)

And, in like manner:  when we see through the lenses of fear, anger, sorrow, or hurt, we may move away from aspects of Truth which could provide contrasting views.

Often, our faces and bodies outwardly express these filters that we try to hold so closely to our hearts and minds:  We may flush, look away, or close our eyes.  We may walk away or stay away for years.

Our challenge is to change the context:  can we put into words why we were afraid, angry, sad, or hurt -- and -- do we dare share these thoughts with others?

When acting in fear, we may run from the Truth.
(Photo: How to Defeat the Meme of Fear, Huffpost)

Dialogue invites us to revisit individual or shared events -- and together, consider how we may have been playing from individual rules and defining differing contexts.

We are encouraged to remember the number and context, determining whether the context of embarrassment, fear, anger, or some other filter has overshadowed the shared reality.  We are encouraged to seek ways that create a winning hand for all of us in the context of being a community which seeks to understand and support.

As with my family, changing from one game to another meant we needed to change the objects (cards, board, puzzle pieces) and the rules.  With dialogue, how might we change the objects and rules to provide a new context to share what we see, feel, think, and need?

We are invited, through conversation, to explore the rules that may limit our relationships and agree together on how to renew and reengage.  We are invited to free one another from the bonds that have imprisoned us and have served as our cages.

When we are open to new contexts,
we become free from past rules!
(Photo: The Nourished Home)
Suggestions to consider this week:
  • Identify any rules that guide or limit your interactions with people who have different views or experiences.
  • Consider asking others how they understand a specific situation.
  • Explore these rules and context:
    • Are there ways to change or update the rules based on your conversations?
    • Can the rules be defined in a context of respect and admiration?

May this week flush away outdated rules that limit and imprison.  May new content and understanding provide improved contexts of friendship and community!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hold Lightly: Opening, Accepting, and Enlightening

One of the concepts of many dialogue practices (e.g., Contemplative Dialogue, Active Engagement, and Dynamic Dialogue) is the ability to Hold Lightly.  I must say, though, this is a skill that weighs on me!  I have struggled for many months and years to understand how I can hold lightly to an idea, opinion, or passion I value as it comes in contact with an opposing view.

So much of the current world experience is based on winners or losers, majority rules, survivors and those "voted off the island."  It seems that we are reduced to dichotomous points of view:  one triumphing and the other beaten down or killed.

Question:  How can I hold lightly when I find myself moving toward one of these extreme poles? 

Opening Our Hands, Hearts and Minds:
listening to ideas, with no strings attached
An outstretched hand waiting for a feather to gently drift downward is an image that sometimes illustrates this concept to me.  Can I Hold Open my hand... my heart... my mind... long enough, waiting patiently, for a new idea to be shared and explained?  Can I keep the hand open, allowing the idea to land?  to stay?  or to move onward?

Sadly, I have a tendency to close my hand too soon... or to hold onto... or to crush what has been so gently given.

Question:  For each encounter, how can I hold open... for just a few minutes longer... listening, attempting to understand, and maybe accepting another experience or point of view?

Accepting Who We Are:
allowing the Beast-Within to become gentle
(Photo from: The Gorilla Foundation: Koko and Kitten)
A new image came to light when watching the evening news this past week:  Koko, the gorilla who has learned sign language to communicate to its caretakers, has adopted a new Kitten-Friend.  Seeing this mighty animal Gently Cradle this fragile creature tamed the Beast-in-Me, that part of me which squeezes new life out of opposing values.

I wish I had seen this picture earlier!  Recently, a Mentor-Partner asked me what it means to hold lightly.  I would suggest that dialogue practices the ability to nurture curiosity in order to protect the fragile relationships that unite us.  It is the ability to become inquisitive about anything different than ourselves and any long-held beliefs.

Question:  How can I gently cradle (maybe even, cuddle!) and protect inquisitiveness, learning to transform the Beast-Within and allow the Creation-Outside its right to exist?

Enlightening our World:
allowing a variety of ideas to coexist
(Photo from: No Boundaries Paranormal)
Would you agree that lighting one candle can brighten a dark corner of a room?  Maybe, if we allow many different candles to be be lit, the darkness surrounding us may lessen even more:  we might become more enlightened!  Thus, holding lightly might be a way to lighten any burdens that separate and darken us.

May the questions this week allow us to seek opportunities to hold lightly, to hold open, and to protect inquisitiveness!  Cheers to enlightened encounters!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting