Sunday, January 26, 2020

Creating Home

Several years ago I participated in a diversity workshop.  At one point the facilitator had us reflect on times where a situation was unfamiliar to us, where our understanding of the world changed.  As each person recalled that moment, we were asked to walk through what was different, uncomfortable, or unusual.

There was one element that was similar in each of our stories: no matter how diverse the experience, there was a period where each of us looked for Home, something that reminded us of the Familiar.  For some, it was seeing a McDonald’s sign.  For others, it was a flower or song or car... anything that relieved that moment of unease... making it recognizable.

What facades do you recognize?
(Cave homes - Guadix, Spain)
I was thinking of this workshop when traveling through southeastern Spain.  Our tour stopped in Guadix, a town or region where people have been living in caves for generations.  Along the mountain, there are facades of what Americans would recognize as a normal home.  But once we passed through the door, we walked into a Cave Home normal to that region.  Familiar and unusual blended together!

How do you carve out new Ways of Being?
(Creating a new cave room - Guadix, Spain)

The absence of windows in the latter sections of the cave were the only dissimilar features.  Otherwise, we recognized what we would consider as living and dining rooms, a kitchen, and bedrooms.  Familiar, but different!

In one section, the owner of the Cave Home was in the process of digging out a new room.  As our families expand or change, we either move or build an addition to the current structure.  Again, our guide helped us to see how this culture adapted to their needs.

Where do you create your home?
(Cave Home bedroom - Guadix, Spain)

What drew out the most Oohs and Aahs were the children’s bedrooms: the toys and the wall paintings provided a context for love and safety.  Familiar!

When Dialogue is open and caring, we create experiences that invite us to move from something we don’t recognize to places of safety to explore and expand what is familiar.

May we open our Home Caves to guests who help us expand new rooms that are familiar to all.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Reflections on Learning

On a recent trip, I noticed how often one object reflects another.  It may be water reflecting buildings; glass-paned buildings reflecting the clouds or people drifting by; or people’s eyes reflecting what is being seen.

The reflected images may be clear or distorted — depending on a breeze rippling the water’s surface, rain-spotted surfaces of the glass, or tears that pool in the eyes of someone who understands.

What stories are reflected in your life?
(Plaza America, Seville, Spain)

What is true about most reflected images is that they are the reverse of the original.  No matter how clear the reflection, what is seen is the opposite of its real counterpart.

I wonder if that is true of what we experience in life?  Maybe we are seeing only a fraction of Reality.

Are past stories waiting to be discovered?
(La Alhambra, Granada, Spain)

Just think about language: how each nationality and culture has different words that labels or describes itself.  For instance, the word “Spain” is the English equivalent of the Spanish word “EspaƱa.”  Many words are derived or mutated over time to describe the world of our ancestors.

The Greeks referred to the peninsula as Hesperia, meaning "land of the setting sun."  The Carthaginians called the country Ispania and the Romans referred to it as Hispania, both meaning "land of the rabbits."  Does our English word capture any of these original meanings?

Our current world may have lost earlier meanings or understandings.  Instead, we tend to focus on what we have learned and now know.  Even though these previous derivations may have been lost, they can be rediscovered when we become curious to learn more.

Where can you ground your curiosity?
(Floor of Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain)

Rediscovering lost stories or meanings may be as simple as slowing down and becoming child-like.  Asking questions like:  Why?  How?  Why not?  What do you think?

Opening our minds to other people’s reflections allows us to grasp a different aspect of reality... even if we hear the reverse of what we may hold as true.  Dialogue opens us to other Ways of Being, Learning, and Knowing.

May your reflections this week create a spirit of curiosity and discovery!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Filling Up On Life

Have you ever met someone who seems so alive, so curious about learning, so engaged with people and the world?  I wonder what makes them see and respond to life so differently than others?  You may be one of these people: what do you see; why do you respond with such life and vigor?

On a recent trip, I noticed people who were conversing with others, leaning in, laughing, sharing stories of home.  Other people were taking long walks, getting in touch with their inner world.  And still, others were interacting continually with their electronic devices.  Each were following the same trip itinerary, but we experienced the journey individually and in ways important to that person.

How do you see the world:  beautiful and intricate?
(La Alhambra, Granada)
I wonder:
  • What are the primary ways I engage the world? 
  • How do I take in and interpret what I see? 
  • Am I curious about what others think and feel? 
  • How do I satisfy my curiosity (e.g., ask questions; research; explore; observe)? 

Without sounding judgmental or critical of how others live their lives, I wonder: 
  • Why do I (or we) spend so much time becoming distracted or using devices that keep us from awareness of and curiosity about others? 

Challenging questions so early in the new year:  our use of time and the way we experience others; the value we bring to life; and how awareness may become hidden or diverted.

What in life draws your eyes and lifts your spirit upward?
(Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelona)

As I grow older, I am saddened by all that I may have missed in this world:
  • Family stories that are no longer remembered since relatives have passed on... the stories have passed on with them. 
  • Times I have not paid attention and moved on without wondering... the opportunities to understand that have been passed over. 
  • Cultures I haven’t encountered or explored... the gifts that have remained unopened.

What structures do we create to inspire and share beauty?
(La Ciudad de los Artes y las Ciencias, Valencia)

Dialogue allows us time to recapture stories, focus attention, and open us to curiosity.  It may take an effort on our part to become aware of our distractions and to draw forth what is important to us.  Once we have noticed what is missing, we can then move towards what is desired.

In a sense, we are being challenged to create internal structures that draw forth beauty and curiosity in everything we see and do.

Rather than let devices or people dictate how we should think or respond in a given moment, maybe this New Decade is inviting us to reconnect:

  • To become more aware; 
  • To seek out what brings life; and 
  • To recall what it feels like to be Community (common unity).

May this week provide moments when you may be filled anew with beauty and creativity.  May the distractions that keep you from what you seek be diminished.  May you experience the possibilities beyond.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Adjusting to the New Year: Diving into Contrasts

When I was younger, 2020 was the year of my retirement — so many years ahead!  Now it is 2020, and the goal posts have changed.  In the interim years, the federal retirement age changed!  Am I ready to transition to another way of life?

What does it mean to move from a contributing member of society to one who relies on the social benefits that have been contributed to for a lifetime?  How do I adjust when work colleagues are not part of my daily regimen?  When will I be able to see what is on the other side of Life’s next bridge?

How far ahead can you see?
(Photo Credit:  IKEA - Jungle Journey, Bjorksta)
Recent solar and lunar eclipses have reminded me that our universe has many examples of when one object eclipses another.  The norm of one moment is overshadowed by another, even for a brief time.

I guess as we move through various stages of our lives, it may be important to focus on what is normal and what seems to be abnormal.  In that moment of transition, we may discover something important about ourselves.

Can you see light even when your world is eclipsed?
(Photo Credit:  Sky and Telescope, Solar Eclipse 2017)

Being introverted and introspective, I have learned in these transitions that I need to share what I am thinking.  This is where my dialogue practice has helped:
  • Can I explain what I am thinking or feeling... and... listen to other perspectives?
  • Am I willing to become vulnerable... and... listen to advice? 
  • Will I test assumptions made... and... seek out the facts established?

What is on the horizon this next year?
The challenge as we adjust to any new year is creating time and space to focus on the horizon ahead: not necessarily to anticipate or plan, but to sit and enjoy the view... and welcome what comes.

May this New Year help us to retire older Ways of Thinking and transition into newer Ways of Being.  Blessed New Year to you!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)