Sunday, August 25, 2019

A Matter of Where You Stand

Walking into the Vail (Colorado) welcome center, I was drawn to a piece of art hanging overhead.  It was fascinating in its simplicity: a curling structure that reminded me of a ribbon that was either being tied or untied.  I wondered about its meaning in this ski town.  Did it represent one of the ski runs, copying the twisting and turning that occurs as you race downhill?  Did it symbolize the toboggan runs found in both winter and summer sports?  Was it one of the rivers flowing down the west side of the Continental Divide?

Artwork is fascinating:  the viewer has the freedom to interpret a meaning... even when it is different from the artist's.

What do you see?
(Red Eddy by Paul Vexler, Vail Village Welcome Center)

As I walked around the center reading materials and exhibits about Vail and all it offers the visitor, my eyes moved back to the overhead piece.  Depending on where I stood, the piece changed from an unfolding ribbon into a "curly Q" or a “pretzel.”

Life is sometimes like that!  If we stay in one place, we think that we have seen all that life offers.  As we move and look again, we are invited to see anew.  What we assumed was true may have a different meaning or we might gain a deeper appreciation.

Do you see differently from where you are standing?

I wonder:
  • Do our initial insights have an underlying truth as we perceive or understand a situation for the first time?
  • Is it possible that, as we move and change, our perceptions gain a new understanding or meaning of the truth?
  • Are we able to hold both truths gently and lightly as we continue to seek?

In other words, all perspectives might contain some truth, depending on where a person stands.  Maybe our task is to describe what we have seen or experienced; invite others to do the same; and, like an artist, stay open to differing views.

Do you become tied up when someone disagrees with you?

Rather than being all twisted or tied up in our relationships, we could allay our confusion by moving or changing our position -- testing our assumptions -- and observing what happens.  Like holding a multifaceted gem, we can turn our understanding around and attempt to see the sparkle of richness and truth in someone else's viewpoint.

This week, may we....

  • Have the courage to move from where we have been standing;
  • Allow new perspectives to challenge our earlier beliefs and conclusions; and,
  • Become open to diverse views.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Nature of... Hanging on and Being Transformed

Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story was a staple on radio for almost 34 years.  He would focus on a specific news story, reciting the well-known facts... followed by a commercial.  The listener needed to hang on until after the break to hear the rest of the story.  The post-commercial segment provided more in depth facts that oftentimes flipped the perspective or interpretation of what really happened.  In other words, the story -- and the listener -- were transformed by the outcome... which was sometimes unknown or not always told by others.

Since Paul's death in 2009, I have missed hearing the rest of the stories that swirl around us.  His storytelling enlivened the admonition to walk a mile in someone else's shoes.

The Nature of Shoes... to protect

Our well-worn shoes and soles [maybe even, souls] tell the story impressed by our feet.  But, are we willing to hang on and understand the rest of our human story?  Can we:
  • Feel the contours of our own shoes [lives]?
  • Try on the shoes [experiences] of others?
  • Walk alongside [understand] people on this Life Journey?

To understand others, it may be important to filter out those stories that divide and separate us.  Yes, we are all different -- but I believe we all have purpose and bring value to Life.

The Nature of Barnacles... to filter

One outgrowth of Dialogue that I am just beginning to explore is the ability to Let Go.  As I notice my tendencies to control or manipulate a conversation -- and when I let go -- I relax and listen more.  I no longer need to prove that "I know what I know."  Rather, I seek a shared understanding:  your story is impressed upon my story.

What I hear no longer needs to be filtered by my sense of Right-Wrong.  The ground for dialogue becomes fertile when we sacrifice our self-interest and allow trust and safety to take root.  Instead of continuing the cycle of old ideas and our own way of being, new growth is nurtured and enriched by our combined Lives Lessons Learned.

The Nature of a Nurse's enrich new growth

Thus, our individual lives and experiences move toward The Rest of the Story, a compassionate Way of Being that encourages the freedom to be creative.

As we tell our stories this week, may we let go... relax... and soak in the richness of another perspective.  May we take a break.... hang on... and be transformed by new facts we will learn.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Humor in Our Mixed Messages

I came across an interesting street scene during this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego: a crowd was gathered around street preachers, cordoned off by a rope barrier, and surrounded by police officers.

What made the setting interesting (besides the police protecting free speech) were the competing messages:
  • The preachers were broadcasting messages of sin, debauchery, and that people were going to hell.
  • The signs behind the barrier spoke of God's love for but damnation of sinners.
  • Competing signs outside the barrier made fun of those behind the barrier.

In some ways the scene was reminiscent of the previous year, with one exception: taking a wider view of the area, I noticed the building behind had an NBC logo and a sign that said "Comedy Starts Here"!

I knew that the NBC advertisement and the street scene were not connected, but the wider perspective allowed a moment of humor to surface.

Mixed Messages: what messages do we take in?
 + Click on image to expand and read the signs +
 (Comic-Con International 2019, San Diego)

I wonder:  how many times do we become so focused on what is in front of us -- maybe becoming too serious or angered by what is happening -- that we don't see a wider view?  Maybe we miss the inconsistencies between our words and actions.  Maybe we don't hear the mixed messages we give.  Or, just maybe, we don't see the lightness or humor in life!

It seems that there are moments when:
  • Life happens... and we try to understand or add meaning.
  • We try to understand or add meaning... and life happens. 

Mixed Messages: can we find humor in what happens?
(Photo credit: Always Put The Cart Before the Horse, blog by tborash)

People have told me that I am too serious, that I need to lighten up and enjoy life.  I used to get annoyed at these comments.  But, if I take these observations to heart -- that people who care about me have the courage to share what they see -- maybe I can search for the truth in their statements... and decide if I want to change.

Mixed Messages: where are we going?

Sometimes I worry about -- and sometimes, fear -- the road we are traveling down as a society.  Where are we going when we don't listen?  When we decide not to change?  I think this is where my seriousness comes in.

But, I might be able to lighten up if:
  • Each of us admitted, "I don't have all the answers"?
  • We learned to take a wider perspective in what we saw?
  • We allowed curiosity and questions to open us to new possibilities?

What do you think?

May this week bring a touch of humor to your lives!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Noticing Gridlock... and How We Respond

When I am with people who do not understand one another, I notice that I become more introverted and introspective.  I feel caught between differing viewpoints and loyalties.  I see and hear the tension.  I sense that there must be a way past the gridlock.  But how?

Growing up, I took on the family role of peacekeeper: helping others listen to and understand one another.  My empathy went outward, one directional... and I forgot about taking care of myself.

How, then, does a Recovering Peacekeeper respond to the gridlock or clashes between visions, ideals, and life goals?

Gridlock: when do you become overwhelmed?
(Downtown San Diego after July 4th fireworks)

Dialogue (Contemplative Dialogue / Active Engagement) balances three stances:  mindfulness or noticing; non-violence; and non-defended learning.

As I notice when I am overwhelmed with and react to gridlock, I must remind myself not to attack or harm others.  The same goes for how I treat myself.  Listening and responding in a non-violent manner allows me time to connect with the human experience: we struggle to be heard and understood.  When I notice and begin to live out of compassion, unimagined solutions begin to rise out of our encounter.  Systems change... because we are willing to change.

When the dialogue stances are aligned, I am no longer fixated that people must see the world as I do.  Instead, I begin to understand that we each have individual life journeys to complete.  Going another direction or believing differently no longer becomes the obstacle.

In these moments, I can pause... and learn from you!

Gridlock: when do you move in a different direction?
(Hiking up Diamond Head, Honolulu, Hawaii)

This Pause allows us time to consider other options to this gridlock.  The compassion and non-violence opens the possibility that I no longer need to defend my position or belief.  Explaining (advocating) my understanding gives way to letting others ask questions and explain their experiences.  I -- and We -- gain insights into this Situation-Experienced-Differently.

Gridlock: when can you see a wider view?
(Flying over Los Angeles)

Viewed another way:  Gridlock provides opportunities for us to puzzle together a solution that addresses all of our needs.  In fact, we may even be challenged to position ourselves above the gridlock so that we can gain a wider view of:
  • Who we are;
  • Where we have been; and, maybe more importantly,
  • Where we want to go.
It takes all of us to share and grapple with our diverse perspectives.  It takes all of us to attain this higher perspective.

Just maybe, gridlock gives us this chance to pause... and notice... and see anew.

May this week bring mountaintop moments that allow us to move beyond gridlock, seeing the valleys below and the peaks beyond.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)