Sunday, March 25, 2018

Enough is Enough: Now is the Time for Action... Let's Dialogue!

With recent school shootings, walkouts and the March for Our Lives rallies around the nation and world, I wondered how a dialogue-related theme could support the #Enough campaign.

I attended the San Diego march with thousands of others.  The student organizers and speakers balanced messages of grief, fear, and defiance with hope, resilience, and forward action.  How would someone with an opposing view hear these words?

Early in the rally, a lone counter-protester brazenly sliced through the huge crowd carrying both an American and a Trump flag.  He planted himself directly in front of the student speakers.  His actions could have been seen as intimidating and bullying.

Jeers and angry words from the crowd matched his shouts and denials.  The organizers quickly called for a peaceful response... and then, almost organically, several March-related flags and placards surrounded this lone protester... allowing him to stay in their midst but silencing the disrespect they perceived from him.  It helped that a few sheriffs stood nearby to protect everyone!

Enough is Enough:  An Opposing View Surrounded
(March for Our Lives San Diego)
We were witnessing elements of the First Amendment in action: the freedom of speech and the right  to assemble peacefully.

Challenges to consider with this amendment:
  • How do you express freedom of speech when differing views are present?
  • Can you maintain a peaceful assembly when opinions clash?
  • Who are the people who sheriff and protect each person when we are vulnerable, creating safe places to engage in Self- and Other-exploration?
Enough is Enough:  Joining Together in Unity
(March for Our Lives San Diego)

As we marched, I marveled at the physical changes of the downtown skyline since moving to San Diego.  My thoughts turned to the changes in my own life -- progress in perceptions, emotions, and spirituality.  I wondered:
  • Do I assemble only like-minded people around me to encourage me?
  • Do I allow differing views to be present and expressed?
  • Am I swayed by another person's thinking and passion?
  • Have I changed my perspectives because of someone else?

The answer to all of these questions is 'Yes... I have tried."  I know that I have changed!  At times I journeyed with like-minded people who supported me.  I also needed people who challenged me to explore other routes along the way.  And, as I traveled to other cities, states and countries, my mind and heart expanded as I was touched by other cultures, creeds, and expressions of life.

Enough is Enough:  On A Journey of Discovery
(March for Our Lives San Diego)
As we declare our thoughts freely and assemble peacefully, we are invited to move beyond Either - Or thinking to an "Expression of Yes" -- that is, seeking Both - And statements of Truth, Respect, and Sacred Value.

David Hogg said it best in an interview after the Washington, D.C., March.  David is a Parkland student-survivor and -- unwillingly transformed by the shooting into -- a student-activist.  He said that we need to meet with people we do not know, people who are different from us.  The objective, he said, is not to choose people we agree with and not to argue with or sway them to our point of view.  Instead, our goal is to have a discussion, to listen to the diversity of thought.  He ended the interview by reminding us, "America is about diversity."  David exemplifies the wisdom of our youth!

Maybe the polarities we are experiencing are a new declaration -- no longer focused on our Independence and individuality.  Instead, our differing views are a Declaration of our Diversity... and our Interdependence.  The answers lie not in one side overwhelming the other.  Rather, the answers surface when we seek to honor each person's needs, wants, fears and aspirations.

Enough is Enough:  Same Word Used Differently
(March for our Lives San Diego)

As we enter this new week -- which for some people includes Spring Break, Holy Week, and Passover -- let us consider:
  • Is there a way to listen nonviolently to opposing views?
  • Can we ask questions when the same word or thought is used differently?
  • How do we want to respond when our needs, wants and fears clash?

Peace to you as you march for the values in your lives... and at the same time, respectfully hold other people with sacred worth and value!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

From Autopilot to Moments of Awe

Self-driving cars... the wave of the future?  I would propose that this transportation style is already here!  Think about it:
  • When was the last time you arrived home and couldn't remember portions of the drive?
  • Have you noticed how often people focus on their smartphone while walking or driving?
  • What about your last conversation with a friend or loved one: Can you recall what the other person said?  Or, is the last impression what you felt or thought? 

In many ways, we have become so preoccupied or distracted that we miss what is happening around us!  Sometimes I am on autopilot - that is, "doing something automatically, without self-awareness."  How about you?

Driver-less Days: being on autopilot
(Photo credit:  Totalcar Magazin, Hungary)
Did you see Ben Hines' photo of two-year old Parker Curry a few weeks ago?  Childlike wonder, gazing intently, being awestruck at Michelle Obama's portrait.  For me, this photo had its cuteness-factor, but it also surfaced a series of questions: 
  • When was the last time I was so focused, in the present moment?
  • Do I see you and experience you... as you are?  Or, do I focus on how I have experienced you (past) or how I want to see you (future)?
  • Can I stand still, in wonder and amazement, at the gift before me?

In Awe:  experiencing childlike wonder
 (Photo credit: Ben Hines, North Carolina)

Recently, I watched the sun set behind the island of Lanai, Hawaii, and explode across the sky.  The light played off the ever-changing clouds, each moment more spectacular than the previous!  I stood in wonder, waiting for the next revelation to unfold.  As the daylight receded into evening, I felt awe-filled, inspired, complete.  I was present.

Grandeur Revealed:  waiting and anticipating
(Hawaiian sunset, Lanai, Hawaii)
I believe dialogue plays a similar role in our lives... if we open ourselves:
  • To move from autopilot to a state of anticipation.
  • To expect discovery, seeing a different viewpoint.
  • To invite new insights to expand within.

This week, may we notice when we are on self-pilot, and gently move to a state of awareness.  May we seek moments of awe and inspiration.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Learning to Balance: Perceptions and Reality

A number of years ago, a friend and I were walking along the Mid-Atlantic Rift in Iceland.  Where the separation between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates is small, it is possible to stand on two continents at the same time.  Once the rift widens far enough, it is impossible to straddle the abyss without a bridge or other artificial means.  An adventuresous individual could jump from one plate to the other.  But, normally, a person cannot be fully present in both locations at one time when the gap is too wide.

There are times in our lives when rifts occur between well-meaning individuals.  As differences begin to surface, it is possible to overlook misunderstandings.  But as the situation expands, we might find ourselves separated by a chasm that continues to widen.

Rifts Occur:  When Perceptions and Reality Collide

(Click to read about:  Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland)
Last weekend we happened upon a "busker festival" -- street performers sharing their skills and talents to locals and tourists.  One individual from Hawaii presented progressively harder routines, culminating in a balancing act on top of a rickety perch supported by four volunteers holding ropes to steady the perch and the performer.

As she set-up the final movements, she instructed the volunteers where to stand, how to hold the ropes, when to provide tension and when to relax.  Her success depended on them.

As I watched, I reflected on the trust she had not only in her skills, her abilities, and the hours practicing the routine, but her trust in the variables of who she picked from the assembled crowd and the instructions she gave.

All of us were drawn into the performance:  all of us seemed to hope for a successful outcome!

Being Successful on the High Wire:  Cheered on by Others

(Click to read: Busker Festival 2018, Seaport Village, San Diego)

Last week's blog, What is Heard:  A Journey of Understanding (click on link to read), alluded to a rift that had occurred with a work colleague.  I went into this week not knowing whether the rift would widen or get resolved.  There was a possibility we could move on to other projects without addressing the rift.

Talking with our supervisor individually, we were reminded that we were both good, talented, and well-intentioned individuals.  Later, the two of us talked... and listened:
  • Could we release misunderstandings, perceptions, and feelings of being-wronged?
  • What did we want... for ourselves and from the other?
  • Were we willing to move beyond the rift? 

I noticed that when my body tensed and my mind prepared to refute what was being said, my heart was saying, "These are his perceptions; they are true to him."  

A rift can be lessened once the tensions are addressed and released.  Balance can occur when we take the rocks that have been hurled and caught, gently laying them down on a platform that reaches across the pointed confrontations that have separated us.

Balance is Possible:
Taking the Rocks as They Come

This week, let us consider:
  • Where have I felt balanced and had the ability to span the rift in my relationships?
  • When have I felt wronged or slighted by a loved one, friend, or colleague?
  • How might I listen to my body, mind, and heart... balancing my perceptions and understandings with the truth I hear from the other person?

May this week allow bridges to be built across those rifts and chasms in our lives!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

What is Heard: A Journey of Understanding

A misunderstanding... leading to confusion, frustration and anger... speaking honest but harsh words... resulting in hurt feelings, silence, and separation.  When was the last time this happened to you?

There are times when relationships with loved ones, friends, and colleagues seem so easy:  those times when we agree or see a situation similarly.  Other times we encounter divisions as deep and wide as the Grand Canyon:  when we experience conflicts about perceptions, conclusions, and decisions.

What is Heard:  Learning to Ask Questions
 Click on comic to enlarge
(Baby Blues, Rick Kirkman & Jerry Scott, February 19, 2018)

Recently, I was asked to give feedback about a specific proposal.  Early in the conversation I was told that other team members were in agreement on this new idea.  As I was listening, I noticed that I was having several internal reactions:
  • I questioned some of the assumptions;
  • I wondered how our customers currently use this functionality; and,
  • I felt outnumbered.

At the time, I thought that my questions were helping me clarify the proposal and to understand its intended purpose.  I wanted to give a fair response.  But, when I couldn't shake the proposal's assumptions and my feelings, I gave what I thought was an honest response:  one that was different from my team members.  The rest of the conversation didn't go very well!

I have been replaying the moments before I gave my answer:  maybe I didn't fully understand the proposal; maybe I was still holding onto my internal reactions; maybe I could have asked better or more insightful questions.  But, more importantly, I have been wondering what paths could have been explored after we realized my answer varied from my teammates.  For instance:
  • What words can be used when we see a situation differently?
  • How do we stay in relationship when decisions don't go our expected or anticipated way?
  • Is there a way to honor silence and respect separation as people consider what happened... mixed with the commitment to stay in dialogue?

What is Heard:  Being Okay with a Journey
(Riviera, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico)

I am learning that sharing information, attempting to understand another viewpoint, and staying in relationship are important aspects of a life-long journey:  sometimes we are in step with our companions; sometimes we are out of step or walking in opposite directions; and sometimes we are carrying and caring for those we love.

I wonder:
  • Am I expecting only easy solutions on this journey?
  • Do I anticipate... look too far ahead... or expect there is only one path ahead?
  • Is it better to stay in the moment, waiting for individual truth to be revealed?
  • Can I become vulnerable and commit my safety to others even when the road ahead looks rocky and uneven?
What is Heard:  Coming to Peace
(Ali'i Kula Lavendar Farm, Kula, Maui, Hawaii)

It seems that when I slow down, listen deeply, ask questions, and notice when my body reacts to a situation, I can find peace in knowing that I tried.  Each step of the journey is important. Each step is a lesson learned.  Each step is a forgiveness of earlier missteps.

May this week provide moments when we agree and disagree.  May we explore what is heard and understood.  May we notice and question when we expect a specific answer.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)