Sunday, May 31, 2020

Etching a Dialogue Sketch

I don't know about you, but these weeks at home have provided some time for reflection:
  • What do I miss about my normal life?
  • Who would I want to spend time with?
  • What will the post-COVID world be like? 

Images of childhood friends and games have been surfacing as well!  One toy I miss the most right now is the Etch-A-Sketch!

Are you curious about what can be created?
(Photo credit: Etch A Sketch, Spin Master, Wikipedia)

Remember starting with a blank screen and using one knob to move left-right and the other knob up-down?  Simultaneous action on both knobs created diagonal lines, circles, and arcs.  And, there was always the option to turn the tablet over, shake several times,  and start over.  An earlier creation was erased.  A blank screen allowed countless hours of imagining, experimenting, and creating.

Creating.  Erasing.  Starting anew.

The Etch-A-Sketch was normally a solitary activity, but sometimes siblings or friends and I would share the knobs:  one person moving left-right, the other up-down; sharing ideas on how to create various objects or scenes.  In a sense, we were learning how to listen, adjust to what another person envisioned, and see if we could create a picture together.

Do we have the courage, brains, and heart to listen?
(Photo credit:  15 Amazing Etch-A-Sketch Creations, Huffpost)

As I have grown older, I wonder:
  • When do I release the knobs that control my actions?
  • Do I invite others to share in the creation of life's events?
  • Can I trust the vision and experiences of Loved Ones, colleagues, and friends?

Lessons learned in childhood may still be relevant today!

Do I notice what is unfolding around me?
(Photo credit:  California Superbloom, Jay Ramstead - March 2019)

The invitation, as our lives begin to re-open, is in Creating, Erasing, and Starting Anew:
  • Creating space to listen to others.
  • Erasing aspects of the past normal that we don't want to repeat.
  • Starting Anew in how we share the controls with others.

Rather than getting back to normal, maybe our challenge is to show up with courage, wisdom, and caring... seeking to listen, finding better ways to respond, and regaining trust.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, May 24, 2020

A Tapestry of Dialogue

When I travel, I enjoy experiencing the local customs, foods, and products. Seeing how someone else lives, what they believe, or how they were educated, expands my understanding of Self and Others.  Differences and similarities open me to new ways of thinking:  I am invited to become curious and interested in discovery.

On several trips I have been drawn into the artists who allow us tourist-voyeurs to watch a handcraft being formed.  Once I get past the They-just-want-us-to-buy thoughts, I become intrigued by the experience:  we are in the presence of a Creative Moment.

Are you surrounded by structures that encourage creativity?
Whether observing the making of an English medieval-style tapestry, an Irish woolen blanket, or a Turkish rug, the action of weaving one thread or strand at a time reminds me of the people and events in my life that are interwoven.  Each word, each conversation, each interaction creates a tapestry that I own.  I am created through others.

The work seems so pain-stakingly slow in today's standards.  But, at the same time, the skillfulness of the artist and creator draws me in... especially when one or more rows need to be disassembled and corrected.  Watching, I see no signs of being upset or frustrated.  Instead, the focus is on the overall vision.

Do we have the patience to sit, create, and wait?
Even more fascinating is the back - the reverse -- of the image or design being created!  So much of what we desire is on the outward appearance, yet there is a truthfulness in knowing that the front and the back display their own beauty.  One image, front and back... the same, but different.

And now, time for the sell! In our dialogue work, are we willing to:
  • Sit and listen to Stories Unfolding?
  • Correct -- or redo -- Conversations Unintended?
  • Be amazed at the outward and inward Creations Revealed?

What are we selling?
As our Tapestry of Life is being created and revealed, maybe we could look beyond the outward images that we display to others... and look at the other side:  the thoughts and conclusions we have created along the way about that person.  As we sell who we are, maybe a Tapestry of Dialogue could open us to curiosity and discovery... with the willingness to undo threads that keep us from Seeing the Whole.

May this week provide moments of weaving interesting stories!
Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Waiting, Watching and Focusing

Have you ever noticed how quiet it gets when people turn toward the west and watch the setting sun?  There is something magical about that moment as we collectively turn and notice when daylight gives way to twilight and nighttime darkness takes over.

That moment of waiting, watching, and focusing draws us together.

Clouds, fog, haze, or clear skies may influence our interaction with the sunset.  If lucky, we may even see The Green Flash -- that moment where colors bend and green rests on top of the setting orb.

When was the last time you waited for a sunset?
(Photo credit:  The Green Flash in Pirates of Caribbean:
At World's End, Science On blog)
Many aspects of our lives require us to wait, watch, and focus:
  • The months of pregnancy leading to the birth of a child
  • The weeks at work or in a classroom as we learn new skills and insights
  • The days on retreat leading to new awareness 

Listening to people's stories of the past few months, I hear these themes of waiting, watching, and refocusing.  We are learning to rebalance our many public and private roles and responsibilities as we navigate through this COVID-19 Era.

Waiting.... watching... and focusing...

What feelings have surfaced during COVID-19?
 (Manchester Hyatt Marquis, San Diego:
a Tribute to COVID health care professionals)
Walking downtown recently, I noticed a building where the window curtains had been opened in the shape of a heart.  Throughout that next week, I saw similar signs on other buildings.

How long had these symbols been there?  Why was I just noticing signs of love and caring?  Were there others around that I had not seen... or were hidden, waiting to be discovered?

What values are reflected perfectly in your life?
 (San Diego harbor)
A perfect sunset -- like a perfect reflection -- may be in the eyes of the beholder.  Storm clouds in our life may draw forth vibrant colors.  Foggy or unclear insights may be appreciated when solutions become clear.  New and differing experiences each day may sharpen our desire to wait, watch, and refocus.

The question for me today, as I listen to contrasting understandings of post-COVID life:

Am I willing to turn and be drawn together as we share varying views of this one event?
This week, may we wait... watch... and focus, using our dialogue skills to better understand another aspect of what we are seeing (or not seeing), experiencing (or haven't experienced)... and waiting to discover together!
Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Building Your Dialogue Support

Being "safe at home" during COVID-19 may mean less physical travel, but it doesn't necessarily mean that our minds and interactions are locked up!  Human memory, imagination, and spirit are powerful -- allowing us to recall pre-COVID moments, set the tone for current responses, and co-create the future.

As an example: last fall we were in Astoria, Oregon, for the day.  Walking along the waterfront, we passed a set of old wooden pylons that dotted the water.  My imagination tried to see the pattern of the pier or docks that had been supported by these logs.  Obviously, made by human hands, their previous purpose and usefulness had disintegrated until only these ancient pylons remain.

What supports do you hold onto?
(Astoria, Oregon)
Further along the waterfront, we came across a pier that was cordoned off.  It looked like a recent fire had destroyed a portion of the pier:  part of the pier was still walkable, but for safety reasons the whole area was considered unsafe.

Over a stretch of less than a mile, two areas of the waterway could not be used: ancient and more recent events had altered the usefulness of a once-thriving waterfront.

Have your supports changed over time?
(Astoria, Oregon)
Through our dialogue practices, we are encouraged to notice our Socially Constructed Realities (SCRs).  These SCRs are thoughts, beliefs, customs and education that have supported individual or collective Ways of Being.  These SCRs filter what we hear, how we react, and the people we accept.

What would it be like if we took an inventory of what supports our current Ways of Thinking?

What supports will you need for the future?
(Geisel Library, University of California, San Diego)
The work of noticing our SCRs does not place a value on what we learn about ourselves.  Rather, when we take the time to question our ways of being or thinking, we are left with a choice:

How do I want to respond in the future?

As we grow and learn about ourselves and others, we are remembering who we were, accepting who we are, and imagining who we want to become.  The human spirit supports us along the way: opening us to new ways of supporting future dreams and interactions.

Whether your community is staying secure at home or is gradually opening, let us consider how to keep everyone safe and healthy!  A lesson many of our mothers taught us: staying connected and taking care of one another.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Happy Mother's Day to those who have given us life... and through memories, presence, and future interactions, continue to inspire us to love others!  

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Dialoguing in Protest: Looking for the Space

Human's are fascinating!  [Applause]  We are creative... caring... nurturing... [Applause] and have the ability to rationalize almost any position. [Huh?]

Just think of how each individual is responding to COVID-19:  some people are finding creative outlets while "safe at home"; some are volunteering their time and resources for others; others are fostering growth and learning.

What happens, though, when we reach a point of fear, frustration, anger, or boredom?

How do you respond when you've reached your limits?
(Photo credit:  Huntington Beach Protest, LA Times / Polaris)
Our world displays countless examples of diversity as seen through our plant and animal kingdoms.  It is this diversity that creates a tapestry of strength and interconnectedness... if we pay attention and learn.

But, what happens when we limit what we see and hear?

What do you hear?
(Photo credit:  Andy Babbitz)
Vicktor Frankel, a Holocaust survivor of Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Kaufering and T├╝rkheim, wrote:

"When we are no longer able to change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves."

He also suggested that:

"Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

Are we listening and responding out of growth and freedom?
(Photo credit:  San Diego Beaches Stay Open... LA Times)

As people's needs surface and intensify, I wonder:
  • Do protests and loud voices diminish the climate to dialogue?
  • How do we listen and choose when the space between stimulus and response shrinks due to anger, fear, and frustration?
  • Will our diversity decrease as options become fewer?

A recent example of humanity's creativity, caring, nurturing and rationalizing happened when San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer spoke to the governor's office, explaining the phased approach to opening San Diego's beaches.  Because San Diego residents were adhering to physical distancing, the governor-mayor dialogue used the space between stimulus and response to open up possibilities for a different choice.

I wonder for this next week:  where can you and I dialogue in the midst of protests -- seeking to pause, listen, understand, and choose?

Prayers for you and your loved ones to stay safe and healthy!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)