Sunday, April 28, 2019

Waiting and Watching

I find it interesting when people describe how they see me.  I don't always see or feel what they describe, especially when lofty or saintly attributes or images are assigned.  I might experience familiarity with what they share, but there is always an unknown element that is lurking beyond.

For example, many people describe me as calm or patient... which I am... most of the time!  I know of moments, though, when my patience ran out, and I said -- out loud! -- thoughts I harbor in the dark recesses of my mind!  In those instances:  do you really want to know what I am thinking?  Where is the patience or calmness then?

Over time, I have learned to ask questions:
  • When did you see me this way?
  • What affect did it have on you?
  • Could I have responded any differently?

When we begin to exchange thoughts, images and experiences, I find that I encounter a choice:  will I allow myself to become vulnerable by owning moments when I might fall short of another person's perceptions?

Waiting and Watching:
what do you see when you look inside?
(Notre Dame Cathedral, Parisian Fire Fighters, April 16, 2019)

The Peacekeeper-in-Me seeks to listen and accept, bridge between misunderstandings or contrasting views... at any cost... even to the point of accepting another person's image as my own.

If I seek to honor my True Self -- accepting the strengths and the shortfalls -- I must challenge those shaky walls that hide my debris-filled interior.  In other words, I am invited to accept the human condition that we all experience: those aspirations that direct us upward and those limitations which keep us grounded.  I am both, and that is okay!

Waiting and Watching:
what do you do when everything seems to fall apart?

Through dialogue with Loved Ones, colleagues, and acquaintances who share my journey, I am learning to:
  • Wait... and listen to new perspectives.
  • Observe... and test ideas.
  • Experience... and accept a broader world.

Waiting and Watching:
how might you step back, wait, and watch?
The gargoyles of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris carry the rainwater away from the building.  In a sense, protecting the building from water damage and erosion.  I wonder if the gargoyles in my life have a purpose?

If we wait, watch, and share our observations and experiences, maybe the lessons learned from shortfalls will help us soar higher!

May this week invite us into moments of waiting and watching, observing and sharing, and experiencing a broader world!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Reaching Skyward

Watching various events unfold earlier this week, I wondered about our fractured world.  How can we bridge across the monumental divides which separate us?

For instance, how did you take in and understand:
  • The fire that consumed the spire and roof of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris?
  • The outpouring of emotions, followed by donations and the desire to rebuild?
  • The coverage of who donated, followed by observations of the imbalance in how money is spent in our world?

One event produced strong feelings and thoughts.  One event drew some people together but divided others.  And that was only one event last week!

Reaching Skyward:
how do you compare and contrast moments in your life? 
(Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris: April 15, 2019)

As I reviewed Cathedral photos flooding social media, I noticed how I was caught up in what was happening thousands of miles away.  Today brought back memories of the Paris skyline when I visited in 2006: the monuments that stood out and above the other buildings - Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Cœur Basilica on Montmartre ("mountain of martyrs), plus other churches and structures.  Throughout the centuries, people reached beyond their normal  routine to express something grander:  who they were; what they believed; how they wanted to be remembered.

I wondered:
  • What moments rise above my daily routine?
  • How have I contributed to my neighborhood, city, country, or world?
  • How will I -- or my generation -- be remembered?

Reaching Skyward:
how do you balance what you know with what you do not?
(Geisel Library, University of California, San Diego)

This past week I found myself working at UCSD.  So, along with scenes from far-away places, I took in images of how an academic environment inspires people to reach beyond their current knowledge and understanding.  Walking around the Geisel Library, named after Audrey and Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), I noticed another monumental building rising above the others.  Ascending floors reached out beyond a smaller foundation, balancing on the architectural and engineering knowledge of its time.

What causes you to reach beyond, to reach skyward?

Maybe, through dialogue, we can reach beyond our rooted knowledge and beliefs, reaching skyward and blooming where we are planted.  Maybe, through invitation, we can clear out the smouldering ruins of destructive relationships, rebuilding by honoring individual core values and working toward common goals.  Maybe, through awareness, we can celebrate each others monumental moments, completing -- not competing against -- each other.

Peace to you this week!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

"Dialing In" to Dialogue

Jeff, my work supervisor, and I had a far-ranging conversation this past week.  He mentioned that, at times, it is complicated or difficult to balance the various relationships and responsibilities in life.  For instance, when he spends more time at work, it takes away from time with his wife and daughters.

To illustrate his point, he suggested that life is like a panel of dials: when he dials in on one aspect of his life, another area may be impacted.  Unwanted or negative feedback in one area may require other dials to be adjusted... which then may impact additional areas.

In essence, life is interconnected, and creating balance requires being attentive to more than one dial.

Dialing In:  how do you keep your life balanced?
(Photo credit:  Music Mastering Service, Mercury Mastering)

Let's take this Wall of Dials imagery a step further:  let's say that you have your wall of dials... your Control Center... and I have mine.  Each of us may have unique dials in our Centers -- our core values, relationships that are important, cultural enrichment...  There are so many individual aspects of our lives that may differ!  At my core -- my center -- I have a choice of which dials to monitor and adjust; and each of my choices may look and respond differently from yours!

Let's assume then that each person:
  • Tries to understand and maintain a balance in life;
  • Operates and makes choices individually; and,
  • Is doing the best she or he can.

How, then, should we respond when one of us adjusts a dial on an individual control center, and is unaware of the impact it has on another person?
  • What do we think about our individual actions and their impact?
  • How we we feel about self and other when we learn about the impact?
  • What actions do we take when we need to adjust our individual control centers?
Dialing In: how do you maintain your relationships?
(Sister Cities of Los Angeles)

Sister Cities International offers a model that "recognizes, celebrates, and magnifies the catalytic power of people-to-people interaction through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation -- one individual, one community at a time."  Each city, community, and individual makes a choice on which dials bring value to and fosters connection between these relationships.

Therefore, Dialing in requires a choice  I am not intending to hurt you.  I want to be in community (common unity) with you.  I want to learn about your dial-adjustments.  I want to support common values... as well as your values.

Dialing In: what chairs are empty around you?

For me, the Wall of Dials conjures up images of a scientist or technician or artist working for the perfect balance in this experiment called Life.  Along with the need to adjust life's choices, I sometimes gravitate toward an image of two chairs facing the same way.  This image invites me to sit and listen to a family member, friend, or work colleague; ask questions out of curiosity; and learn how my choices may have impacted you.

Understanding the images of Dialing In and Dialogue allow us to see possibilities of when we might communicate and coordinate our adjustments so that Community Life becomes balanced.

May this week encourage choices of discovery: when and how to fine-tune Life's many dials... which will improve all of our lives!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Differences that Separate: Illusion and Reality

A friend of mine shared a classic optical illusion with me recently: the imposition of two portraits - a hybrid of two well-known personalities.  Even though I had seen this image many years before, I now found myself struggling to see either person.  At first I saw specific features (hair, noses, and ears), but I couldn't quite make out a full image of either person.

The trick, I relearned, was a combination of holding the picture closer or farther away, squinting or opening my eyes fully, and looking directly at the photo and then moving my focus to the right or left.

Optical Illusions: Who do you see? 
 + Click on image for a larger version +

(Photo credit:  Mirror, March 21, 2014)

This optical illusion reminded me of a photo I had taken while spending a few days on Santa Catalina Island.  I liked the symmetry of the building, so I took the photo.  But, when I looked at the photo several weeks later, I had difficulty recalling if the image was of a curved wall with ledges (bench-seating) -- or -- was it the ceiling of the building.  Looking at the photo below, what do you think: curved wall or ceiling?

Illusion vs Reality: Is this a wall with bench-seating
or a ceiling with arches?
(Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden, Santa Catalina)

It seems that life is filled with contrasts between illusions (definition: something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality) and reality itself (definition: a real thing or fact; something that exists independently of ideas concerning it).

As we progressed through the Dialogue Practicum several years ago, my co-learners and I were encouraged to take a "long, loving look at the Real."  Today, as I listen to the rhetoric of competing ideologies and stances, I wonder:
  • How do we -- individually and collectively -- distinguish between illusion and reality?
  • Can we set aside our long-held beliefs to listen to another perspective?
  • Is there a way to dispel the labeling and negativity that separates us?

Learning to create and break the bubbles of illusion
(Balboa Park, San Diego)
Consider the soap bubbles we played with as children.  Through a simple breath of air, a shape emerges and becomes airborne.  Gentle breezes direct the newborn bubble in various directions, but eventually it bursts.  The reality of gravity directs the bubble downward.  The fragile nature of its iridescent walls cannot withstand the sharp edges of the real world.  Illusion meets reality.

Maybe our ideas, hypotheses, and beliefs are similar.  They are born as we try to discover or understand our world.  But, as we come together and dialogue -- share information, perceptions, and opposing beliefs -- a new reality begins to emerge: common unity; concern for others; shared understanding; and a belief that we can only survive... together!

Like the portrait of converging images, maybe we are invited to step back... or aside, look differently at what is presented, and hold two (or more) perspectives in focus at the same time.  Through dialogue, maybe the illusions we hold need to be tested against a Long, Loving Look, allowing the gravity of what is Real to emerge.

May this week invite moments where we are challenged to see Reality.  May we have an opportunity to take a longer, more loving look at each other.  May we see what draws us together.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)