Sunday, January 27, 2019

Perspectives: We See From Where We Stand

Mysteries... movies... television shows... car crashes... stories we tell ourselves and others.  All of these have something in common: perspective.

Think of the clues revealed in a mystery novel: we may be led along to understand the events in a particular way; we may eventually put the pieces together in a way that reveals the underlying crime or mystery.  The same is true with movies and television shows: a well-produced show entertains by drawing us in and leading us along to a conclusion.

And, if you have ever been involved in a car crash, it is interesting to listen to the bystanders and hear what they saw.  Usually, each has a different perspective... depending on where they were standing or what they were focusing on.

Perspectives:  where do you stand on any topic?
Click on comic to enlarge
(Photo credit:  Blondie, created by Dean Young and John Marshall, January 23, 2019)

Dagwood's comment in this cartoon strip is insightful:  how we see a specific event or story does depend on which side of the door we are standing!  And if we are honest with ourselves, our beliefs, the meanings we attach to events, and the the stories we tell ourselves and others are experienced through the filters of our upbringing, our culture, our education, and a myriad of other factors.  Each of us is unique, and thus, our individual perspectives are valid.

Perspective:  do you hold onto the Old as you create the New?

Changing focus a little, let us consider the resurgence occurring in many cities:  older buildings are being replaced by newer and larger edifices.  To preserve the charm and character of the area, some developers retain the outer walls -- the facade.  The new building rises from the core of the older building. It would be confusing to say that the new building is the same as the old building.  From outside it looks the same, but inside we encounter a different reality.

Returning to the idea of unique perspectives, a dilemma arises in our relationships when any of us concludes that our way of seeing and experiencing life is the only way.  The perspectives may be valid, but the conclusion that one perspective is the only one is a false conclusion.

What do we do when a perspective, filter or facade is strongly held without a willingness to see what is on the other side of the door?  Do we stay inside, holding onto that perspective?  Do we move outside to gain new understanding?

Perspective:  how might we see the depth of the Whole?

Like Blondie or Dagwood, we are invited to walk through the door to gain new aspects of the truth:
  • What is the other person seeing or experiencing?
  • What clues have I missed when holding onto my way of being?
  • How might I see more clearly or deeply the issue or event that is facing us?

May this week allow us opportunities to move beyond perspectives that shutdown communication.  May we experience moments of depth when we seek understanding by walking through the doors that filter us.  May we move towards the Whole.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Shutdown Revisited: Ways to Move Ahead

Traveling on the White Pass & Yukon Railway, we passed an old, rickety, wooden bridge.  It had served the railroad for decades until a new route was proposed and the bridge was bypassed, relegated to the romantic railroad history of time.  The new route now curves around the mountain, giving wonderful views of this relic from the past.

Reviewing photos of past vacations and placing them against current dialogue topics, I wondered about the rickety ideas I have held so dearly throughout my life.
  • How shaky or dilapidated are the meanings I have attached to people?
  • Is it time to bypass the conclusions I have made?
  • Am I willing to seek out new directions in some relationships?

Shutdown Revisited: how old are my support systems?
(Switchback Arch Bridge, White Pass & Yukon Railway)

Some rickety ideas place me on parallel tracks with people:  we never intend to intersect or change our belief systems.  Think of how often you may say, think or hear, "I guess we agree to disagree."

These musings have caused me to wonder why I place so much importance on my idea being listened to, accepted, or selected.  Do I forget to listen -- or even want to listen -- to other ideas or solutions?

Think of the last time you and a friend considered several movies, restaurants, or activities.  Did any new idea emerge where both of you were excited about the result?

Shutdown Revisited:  is there a chance
that our ideas may never intersect?

When a new choice emerges between me and my friends, there seems to be a moment of kismet, serendipity.  New energy flows.  The outcome of the decision is based on our relationship, our trust, and our willingness to risk: we want to do something together, to spend time together, to enjoy one another.  What we do becomes secondary to who we are -- in relationship.  The focus is on us!

Shutdown Revisited:  is it time to pull aside and...
wait, listen, and anticipate? 

When there is a shutdown, relationships are in jeopardy.  The focus is on the wrong outcome:  "Whose idea was selected?" rather than "Are we still in relationship?. Maybe when shutdowns in our relationships occur, we need to take a sidetrack:  slow down, and maybe even stop; check where we are; listen deeply for what is coming... and anticipate that something new will overtake us... a new idea; an option unexpected; or a relationship intact.

Blessings to you this week as you consider where you have come, the pathway forward that may be new, and the choices not considered!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Shutdown: Barriers to Communication

Shutdown seems to be a word in vogue these days -- a "termination or suspension of operations, services or business activities" according to the dictionary I referenced.  The shutdown we are hearing about or experiencing right now is causing me to wonder:
  • How often do I suspend communication with those I disagree?
  • When do I terminate relationships because of past hurts or discord?
  • What do I do when I no longer want to communicate with you?
Our devices now allow us to block incoming voice or text messages so that we can effectively shut out someone from our electronic lives.

What barriers do we erect 
to stop communication?
It seems that social media has opened the door to communicate easily and more often with others, and we have new methods to terminate or suspend those connections.  I wonder, though, have we ever learned how to bridge the chasms that develop when we realize we are coming from different value systems or worldviews?

How strange that we can create such wonderful devices to support our communication but we haven't dedicated the same amount of creative energy to listen across the vacuum of misunderstandings!

How different do we see our world?
(Photo credit:  Moon Rover, NASA)
In the midst of our personal shutdowns -- not listening to work colleagues; suspending relationships with friends; terminating familial ties -- let us consider how we got to this point.  No blame or pointing fingers.  No guilt or self-denial.  Just an honest reflection on what happened and why. 

At times, a shutdown may be the only way to keep Self and Other healthy.  At times, all avenues for communication have been tried -- and it is time to step back.  At times, life must move on.

Maybe shutdowns are neutral, providing space to consider what to do.  Maybe the value judgments and attached meanings that got us to this breaking point must be reviewed.

In our darkest hour, let us focus
on the points of light surrounding us
The questions I ask myself when I come to a Shutdown Moment:
  • Prior to the shut down:  what is my intention?
  • During the shutdown:  do I see light at the end of the tunnel?
  • After the shutdown:  will I or the other person be able to heal?

These have become the points of light that direct my communication and dialogue before, during, and after the shutdown.  In other words, I must consider the barriers I have erected or chasms I am unable to cross... talking to colleagues, friends and family about why silence has darkened my world.  It is through this continued dialogue that I am challenged to consider a future beyond the shutdown.

As the government shutdown works itself through our public consciousness, may we consider how human it is to be hurt, misunderstood, and misaligned.... and with hope, may we also dedicate ourselves to continued communication in these unforgiving times.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, January 6, 2019

We Bring What We Know: Now What?

Many years ago driving through the Scottish highlands, I was enchanted by the golden-yellow hills.  The native plant, gorse, was in full bloom and beautiful in its highland environment.

Natural beauty in native settings
(Photo credit:  Walkhighlands)

Recently, traveling in the hills surrounding Dunedin, New Zealand, I was reacquainted with gorse which filled the hillside and valleys of the Taieri Gorge.  Some slopes were brilliant yellow, beautiful!  Others were deadened, nothing growing.

Our guide explained that Scottish immigrants had imported their familiar gorse to create hedges between their land parcels and to protect their crops from the harsh winds.  The wind swept the gorse seeds throughout the region, choking out all native plants.  Gorse, in all of its beauty, had disrupted the life cycle of the region's plants and animals.  Pesticides were being used to kill the gorse, attempting to return the region to its previous balance.

I wonder... how often do I take what I know into new situations, hoping to make the unknown more familiar?  Do I import my definition of normalcy and impose it on those I encounter?  Do I hold onto what I know rather than discover anew?

Transplanted beauty in foreign landscapes
(Taieri Gorge, Dunedin, New Zealand)

Our guide also explained how rabbits were brought into the country as a food source.  Without any predators, the rabbits overtook the countryside.  The immigrants then brought in weasels and other predators to kill the rabbits.  But, the introduced predators soon decimated the bird populations.  The European settlers used home-learned solutions to harness the wildness of this new land, but in doing so, the natural balance was negatively affected.

I wonder... how often do we rely only on what we know and the solutions that have worked in the past, and overlook the delicate balance of what is before us:  old and new;  introduced and native; known and unknown; already discovered and discovery awaiting?

Child-like curiosity discovering together
(Tauranga, New Zealand)

To allow a new situation to unfold, let’s consider the following:
  • What can I learn from what is present (now)? 
  • How might I let go of what I have known (past)? 
  • Can I hold gently and observe lightly this moment of discovery (now)? 
  • In what ways can I allow new thoughts and solutions to emerge (future)?

And, maybe, we are challenged with broader questions:

  • Are we willing to allow the present moment to change us?
  • Rather than recreating or changing the situation with our past knowledge and understandings, are we willing to be curious about the pathway before us?

May this New Week in this New Year provide opportunities to become child-like: rediscovering our world and the people around us!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)