Sunday, November 29, 2020

Duality and Symmetry

Lately, my mind has been reflecting on the duality of being human:

  • We are individuals... but, as social beings, we need others.
  • We are physically anchored to this world... but a Spirit inspires us to become more.
  • We want the best for those we love... but, sometimes, we focus only on ourselves.
  • We celebrate holidays of Thanks Giving... but, as we strive for more, we forget to be thankful for what we have in abundance.

Preparing for this Pandemic-influenced Thanksgiving, I wondered how often I have been thankful these past 10 months... for Stay-at-Home orders; working remotely; or following the health guidelines of my state and county?

Have I seen beauty in these dark moments of Living Sequestered?

Can you still see beauty
in your darkest moments?

As with many holidays, I have been remembering my parents who have been gone for over 11 years (Dad) and 15 years (Mom).  Again, duality:  Living in the Present but Recalling the Past.
Lying awake one evening, I recalled a teeter totter that Dad built for us when we were younger.  My older brother and I would use our weight to keep our younger siblings always in the air.  They soon learned to work together to outweigh us.  We would then use our longer legs to keep them on the ground.  What could they do... but plead for us to play fair... or tickle us so that we fell off!  Duality in play! 

Maybe there are other childhood lessons to help us with today's dualities.  For instance:
  • Sandboxes:  understanding the outlines of where we can play... or not play.
  • Jigsaw Puzzles:  working through edges and shapes to see the emerging picture.
  • Scrabble:  stringing together letters to create words that have shared meaning.

Rather than pleading or squawking when we don't get our way, are there another ways to express what we want or need?

Do you squawk when
you don't get what you want?


With Dialogue, it is important to balance Advocacy and Inquiry.  Rather than focusing primarily on one or the other, we are invited to talk through our position (to advocate) and then to ask or seek input on other positions or ways of thinking (to inquire).  Through the dual interchange of advocating and inquiring, we tickle out a new Way of Seeing through emerging ideas and a new Way of Being by balancing individual and common understanding.
Thinking again about these Pandemic Holidays, do we try to balance the dual natures of individual freedom and common good (e.g., do I wear a mask or not)?  Or, instead, do we immediately resort to our childhood ways of "getting our way"... by pleading, not listening, or relying on our own power.
What would it be like if... we advocated our position... and... openly sought another way of seeing the situation?

Are you grateful for fleeting moments
of inspiration?
(Photo credit:  San Diego Union Tribune, Bill Wechter)

My father's favorite holiday was Thanksgiving and my mother's was Christmas.  Within a few short weeks, both of them celebrated what was important to them:  Giving Thanks and Giving Life... duality! I am grateful for how their lives inspired duality and balance.
May these next few weeks help us celebrate and be grateful for the dual natures of Being Individual and Being Together.  We need both!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Giving Thanks

As I grow older, these fall and winter holidays are filled with memories and added meaning: family time; traditions, food, and good cheer; coming together to renew relationships and share stories of the past year.  I also am aware that sadness and isolation inhabit these days as well: families scattered, Loved Ones passed, and gatherings no more.

And, the pandemic has complicated and changed this year's holidays:

  • Can we safely share meals in person?
  • Is there a way to celebrate Together-Remotely?
  • Am I thankful, even with Loss Experienced?

Am I happy and thankful this year?

What I find interesting about the human spirit is our capacity to:

  • Revive, rejuvenate, and hope... WHILE AT THE SAME TIME...
  • Hold onto our history, past hurts, and the need to be rooted.
It is almost like we are tethered to Who We Were... while reaching for Who We Want to Become... while we live Who We Are... all within the span of now and today.

Who and what have I lost this year?


Giving Thanks and Celebrating Birth at the traditional times of harvest and the darkest winter nights connects this desire to tether and reach:

  • How may I give thanks for past and present?
  • What expectations and desires do I have for the future?
  • Am I stuck in either tethering (past) or reaching (future)... missing who I am now?

Can I share what I am seeing and experiencing?

In many ways the divisions we experience in the world right now can be Seen Within:  we look outward and inward; we live in our pasts and hope (or fear) for our futures.  We are BOTH-AND beings trying to live in EITHER-OR frames of reference.

Over the next few weeks, let's give thanks and celebrate new birth by:

  • Asking questions about one another's pasts;
  • Sharing our hopes and fears about the future; and,
  • Listening -- and learning -- about the person sitting across the table... or miles away on Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or the phone.

I am thankful for the many people who have shared their lives with me, giving me hope for the future.  IT IS OKAY to be facing other directions, seeing different views.  But the question for us to answer:  are we willing to talk about what we see, experience, and think?

May thankfulness and peace reign in your hearts this holy-day season!


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Frozen or Missing the Connection?

Our world relies so heavily on being connected: phones, computers, mobile devices...  And since COVID, internet speed and stable video connections have become critical for team meetings, online classes, church services... and Happy Hours with friends!

Recently, a friend and I were having an online meeting when one or both of our images would freeze and the audio would become garbled or would go out entirely.

At first we weren't sure if it was an individual router, if it was system-wide, if it was the video conferencing service...  The list of what could be the problem and how to troubleshoot seemed endless!

How do you know when communication is frozen?
(Photo credit:  Top Icy Faces from Canada's Winter
Running Scene, Running Magazine


But, what was the most frustrating: after we corrected the issue the first time, we assumed we had a good connection and continued with the meeting.... then it would happen again.  We would troubleshoot, fix the problem, assume we had a good connection and continue with the meeting!  After the third or fourth repetition, we stopped and talked through other options.

Reflecting on our situation, we noticed that neither of us said anything early on.  We would become distracted, trying to fix the problem on our side.  We did not immediately tell the other person what was happening.  In fact, on my part I even tried to piece together the part of the conversation I heard... and started filling in the blanks of what I did not hear!

Do you ever wonder what is below the surface?
(Photo credit:  The Largest Icebergs
in History, The Active Times


It wasn't until one of us shared that our connection was freezing and we had missed whole parts of the Story Told, that the Story Untold was revealed:  the issue wasn't individual but was shared.

I wonder:  how often, when we encounter a problem, do we immediately describe what we are experiencing?  Or do we try to solve the problem individually?
After all, there may be more going on below the surface!

Is it time to unfreeze any relationships?

In Moments of Vulnerability we begin to realize our need to:

  • Share what we are seeing or what is happening individually.
  • Recognize that more may be happening below the surface.
  • Acknowledge that a broader solution may be needed to reconnect.

Just think:  if we choose to sit individually with a problem... we just might become cold, wet, and frozen... together!

As winter weather settles in, may we learn to connect by warming up our relationships -- inviting people in, sharing food and drink, and allowing vulnerability to reconnect us!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Facts or...

I've always enjoyed math and science!  There is something reassuring when math problems have solutions, and where we can explore questions about our world.  For me, having some level of trust in math and science became very real this past Friday: I found myself in the Emergency Room!

Professionalism, education, and compassion came together as doctors and nurses provided care and reassurance as they observed, asked questions, and applied their knowledge to my situation.

I am home and doing well, but I am left with many questions about this World Divided, a world needing and seeking healing.

When are facts real?
Click on comic to to enlarge

(Photo credit: Family Circus by Bill Keane, 10/28/20)

For instance, I wonder about:

  • Can we have a dialogue about the facts?  (As Billy asks his mother, "Will two plus two always equal four?")
  • How can we listen to another person's experience... without minimizing that experience?
  • Are we willing to be patient as we explore questions and situations where solutions may be very complex and seemingly elusive?

And, what happens when we receive new information that has the potential to change our perceptions:
  • Are we able to  change our conclusions about that person or situation?

What happens when your definitions are challenged?
Click on comic strip to enlarge

(Photo credit:  Pickles by Brian Crane, 10/26/20)


Rather than readily -- or automatically -- absorbing another person's opinions or social posts, maybe the challenge is to become personally engaged in the process of curiosity:
  • What don't I know?
  • Can I become open towards exploration?
  • Am I willing to Birth the Truth that emerges from our relationship?

How do you adjust your perceptions?
Click on comic to enlarge

(Photo credit  Pluggers by Rick McKee, 10/16/20)

Moving through my ER experience this week, I could not rely on my general knowledge of math and science.  Instead, I realized that healing in my situation required that I trust the people who have pursued medical solutions.  I was not asked to give up my role in my recovery.  Listening to their knowledge and experience, I was being educated on how my life could improve.  I had a choice: am I willing to listen, learn, and heal?
As we move past Election 2020, the Dialogue invitation is similar:  to practice -- to try on -- the attributes of:
  • Humility:  I don't have all the answers.
  • Exploration:  I am open to new possibilities.
  • Acceptance:  I am willing to change my perspective.
  • Loving:  I care for and can show compassion towards all people.
will take place if we work together to build up... rather than tear down.
May peace reign in our hearts this week! 
Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)



Sunday, November 1, 2020

A Reflective Anniversary

Anniversaries can be times for celebration, reflection, and remembrance.  Five years ago this weekend, I began offering this weekly blog about my dialogue journey --  the thoughts and lessons I learned the previous week.  Oftentimes, this journey was with many of you.

I had just returned from the Parliament of World Religions in Salt Lake City: over 10,000 people from around the world gathered to seek understanding and acceptance.  A few weeks before the conference I had finished a 2-year Dialogue Practicum.  It seemed fitting to use a blog format to continue my exploration and learning.

What thoughts color your world?

During the 4-day conference, Tibetan monks created a sand mandala (circle or balance) to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Dalai Lama.  The mandala was created in a public space so that people could watch the design grow as we walked to our various workshops and meetings.

The monks patiently added.. grain by grain... sands of many colors to slowly build a design intricate and beautiful.  At the end of the conference, people gathered to watch this beautiful creation swept away -- never to be seen again.

Are we willing to work together
on a shared vision?

Five years later, I wonder:
  • What thoughts and words have created beauty?
  • Are there actions publicly displayed that have provided balance?
  • Have we patiently listened on our journey together?
And, in this election cycle, can we erase what was created before and rebuild again?

Can we listen... and learn?


In many ways, Dialogue is a celebration of our reflective natures: the ability to slow down and listen; the willingness to become vulnerable when we don't have the answers; and the curiosity to seek ways of being Aware, Compassionate, Free, and Interdependent.
Celebration, reflection, and remembrance are important as each year passes. We celebrate and reflect upon:
  • Our accomplishments
  • What is important and long-lasting
  • How we come together and create balance 

Thank you for what I have learned from you!  Thank you for reading and responding to these posts!  Thank you for providing ideas to explore new Ways of Being Together!


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)