Sunday, July 26, 2020

Dialogue and Necessary Curiosity

Having been the companion of several kittens and adult cats over the years, I have always wondered about the phrase "Curiosity killed the cat."  I recall the many times our feline family members would get trapped in the closet or the neighbor's garage, spending the whole day meowing to get noticed and released from their predicaments.  Fortunately, these many mishaps and funny antics never led to death!

I discovered that "Curiosity killed the cat" was a proverb warning of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation.

Wow!  As we ask about another person's experiences, thoughts, and worldview, is there a point in dialogue where curiosity could become "unnecessary"?

Have you lost your youthful curiosity?

Parents can attest to the curiosity of an inquisitive 3-year old:  Why?  Why?  Why?  The incessant questions seem to be unnecessary to an adult who has experienced or learned the answers.  Isn't it wonderful, though, when we slow down, relax, and see through youthful eyes as the world is being discovered anew?

For some of us, we learned or adapted to the barriers or boundaries that have limited our curiosity -- our willingness to explore beyond what we know to be self-evident.

Can you look beyond the barriers?

When did we learn to hold back?  To not ask questions?  To be satisfied with a finite world?

Practicing dialogue invites us to reengage curiosity:
  • What am I observing?
  • What assumptions have I made?
  • What questions can I ask to explore beyond what I see, assume, think and feel?

Is it time to relax and be together?

Necessary curiosity -- investigation and experimentation in when and how to ask questions -- allows accepted boundaries to become doors open to discovery.

Curiosity killed the cat?  The original form of the proverb is little used: "Care killed the cat," where "care" was defined as "worry" or "sorrow for others."

I wonder:  can we transform how we see our world with necessary caring and concern... where together we can explore and remove the barriers that separate us?  Maybe we can listen to the predicaments that entrap us and recognize those times when we have not listened to pleas for help.

May this week provide opportunities to be necessarily curious about another person's dreams, wishes, needs, and desires!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Sunday, July 19, 2020

Dialogue: Looking Back...

These past few months I have noticed that I am reaching out to friends from elementary school, high school, and college.  Is this due to the COVID "stay at home" orders?  Restrictions on travel resulting in cancellation of vacation plans?  More time to clean out closets and come across long forgotten treasures?

Or, is it just the time of life to reflect on the past and wonder about the future?

Whichever reasons are causing these memories, I am enjoying these re-connections and re-unions:  connecting and uniting various aspects of my life!

How often do you live in the past... how it "used to be"?
(Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany)

I am reminded how interconnected time is: past, present, and future.  For instance, when I am in a conversation with someone, I am sometimes conscious that a phrase spoken may bring forward an image from the past; a nod, smile, or folded arms may remind me of a family member who has similar mannerisms; or a difficult conversation may resurrect conflicts I have had with others.

I sometimes struggle to be present to that person as my mind draws me back to past memories, behaviors, and conclusions.

Do you notice the new rising from the old?
(The Shard, London, England)

As I attempt to practice my dialogue skills of slowing down, noticing, and asking questions, I experience a moving forward... rising from the older ways of reacting to a more thought-filled response that connects and unites.

Like the phoenix rising from the ashes of destruction, I have found that sharing earlier stories and memories allows us to piece together what we had buried or forgotten over time.  Do you remember...?   I didn't realize...  I wonder what happened...

Are you able to balance -- in the present --
both past memories and future desires?
(San Diego Zoo Safari Park)

Whether COVID-inspired or age-related, I am enjoying the relationships that are being renewed, learning from the life paths friends have explored, and the interesting facts that are being discovered about where we were, where we are, and where we want to go.

Together, with shared memories, living in the present, and dialoguing forward, we protect one another by inviting reflection and sharing how we see our world emerging.

Blessings as you look back, reflect and enjoy... and move forward with those you love!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Creating Sacred Space

During my travels, I have come across many sacred places:  some were made by human hands; some allowed heightened awareness of natural beauty; and others were serendipitous moments of interaction with people from other countries and cultures.  Each moment expanded my horizon, allowing me to see the world anew.

Thankful for these planned excursions and chance encounters, I wondered:
  • What have I missed...?
  • Why did I not see...?
  • How can I stay open...?

Am I open to Light brightening my Darkness?
(St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City)

As I "stay at home" in this COVID era, I have been reflecting on these travels and lessons learned.  Each layer of 2020 seems to be calling attention to our individual responsibilities and our interconnectedness:  the Sacredness of Self and Other.

As I listen to family, friends, coworkers... and stay updated on worldly affairs, several questions rise out of my darkness:
  • What does wearing a mask symbolize?
  • How can I physically distance but stay socially connected?
  • Do I protest the inequities in our lived systems?

Do I allow colors from differing views touch me?
(Sagrada Familia, Barcelona)

One answer surfaces more than others:

Ask the other person what s/he sees, feels, thinks, and experiences.

It seems that sacredness is rooted in vulnerability.
  • Can I admit that I don't have the answer -- or that I was wrong? 
  • Am I willing to listen -- and accept another point of view?
  • Do I open myself to others -- and help them achieve their dreams?

Will I allow sacred moments to rise this day?
(Sunrise at Sea)

Dialogue invites us to create safe spaces -- Sacred Spaces -- where we accept that each person is holy; each person has Sacred Worth and Value; and each person encounters and understands Life differently.  The value brought to Dialogue is when we slow down, listen, and say:
  • I don't understand...
  • Tell me more...
  • Help me...

As we begin each day, may we expect to learn anew, seek to understand, and embrace and share our vulnerability.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Sunday, July 5, 2020

Snapshots of Freedom

Entering this holiday weekend where many local July 4th celebrations have been cancelled or scaled back, I have wondered about freedom, equality, and justice.  I usually reflect on these themes each year as I try to understand our nation's history and the current meaning of Independence.  But this year, I believe, the national and regional responses to COVID, wearing face masks, social distancing and systemic injustices have me wondering:
  • What does it mean to be Free?
  • Do we believe that we are Created Equal?
  • Are there responsibilities that come with Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?

I looked up the definitions of these words for the first time since my 8th grade Civics class... and I was surprised at what I learned!

How do you celebrate your independence?

For instance, there were several definitions for Freedom, ranging from political or national independence to personal liberty.  Justice also had several definitions: moral principles determining conduct; rightfulness and lawfulness; conformity to principles; and administering rewards and punishment.  Liberty focused on freedom from external rule or control; independence; and rights.  Equality had the fewest definitions: the state or quality of being equal and uniform character.

What was interesting?  How intertwined these words are -- and have become -- in our individual and collective psyche.

Is justice blind when our humanity filters what we believe?

People have rightfully protested the injustices in our systems.  But, have we had a discussion or come to an understanding of what these words mean?

We have much to celebrate -- even in these uncertain times!  The ability to dialogue openly on what we experience.  The exploration of how other people define these Truths that are Self-Evident.  The discovery that equality, respect, and happiness are interconnected as we learn to listen and care for other people.  The understanding of what is self-evident.

Can we see others through the lenses of caring,
compassion and love?

This year's reflections have opened new avenues for me in the Interdependence of individual and community rights and responsibilities.  If I care for you, am concerned about you, and want the best for you then I will see us as colleagues in the pursuit of individual and common goals.  In other words, I will be free, equal, and achieve happiness only when you are free, equal, and happy!

I wonder on this Day of Independence:
  • Have I freed myself from ideas that enslave me?
  • How do we rebalance the scales of justice and equality?
  • Am I willing to align my individual rights with yours?
  • Can I seek interdepedence that opens the doors to freedom and equality for all?

What are your thoughts?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


A Declaration of Interdependence
Click on image to enlarge

(From, 2011)