Sunday, June 27, 2021

Missing Perspectives

Sitting in the atrium of a local hotel this past week, I was watching the various guests and their families.  Some wore masks and continued to practice social distancing, but the vast majority were not.  Life had returned to normal -- whatever that definition meant for each family.  Elevators were full; lines were formed; people jostled to be first or to get what was perceived as theirs.  After going through 15 months of caution, safety in isolation, and being careful, I wondered if we had seen or shared the same reality.

Watching the hotel elevators rise and fall in their designated shafts, I also wondered if our thinking is as siloed as these elevators:  rising and falling with only our own cargo of thoughts and lived experiences.

What do you miss when siloed in your thinking?

I continued to reflect on this line of thought as we ventured out into the San Diego Zoo.  California had just fully reopened one week earlier, yet the zoo was full:  tourists from all over the country had returned to San Diego.  Are we any safer than before while many people remain unvaccinated?  How is it that the virus can mutate and have variants yet we as humans don't allow variations in our own thinking?  What is normal about our every day lives when we can no longer see another perspective?

Standing outside the giraffe enclosure, I wondered: even with their long necks, giraffes can only see as far as their eyesight allows and the direction they face.  What are we seeing?  Which singular direction are we facing?  How can we possibly expect to see another perspective unless we improve our eyesight... change our position... or rely on others?

Is there only one perspective to be seen?

We ended our stay at the zoo with the flamingos, located at the beginning or front of the zoo.  There was noise and commotion, birds vying for attention or sitting peacefully on nests.  Maybe life is like this:  messy... noisy... varied... confusing.  Is that the normal we are returning to?  Or is normal a false security of siloed thinking?

Rather than staying in our single-shafted visions of normalcy that rise and fall with our cargo of thoughts, maybe we are encouraged to explore new Ways of Being.

How do we nurture new life?

Questions to consider this week:

  • What did I learn from the months of COVID-separation?
  • Are there variations of thoughts that scare me?
  • Can I seek a normal that allows shared experiences AND different perspectives to coexist?

May we mourn the missing perspectives we don't see.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Hidden Beauty

Recently, while walking under trees in our neighborhood, I heard a crunch-crunch sound.  Looking around, I didn't see anything.  The crunching continued.  Looking up, I saw a number of green parrots that were eating away at the seed pods in the tree... eyeing me with caution.  Without the sound, I might have missed the beauty of these beautiful tropical birds with the red-ringed eyes.

Over the years we have become accustomed to these wild parrots that migrated to and made San Diego home.  It's always amazing to hear their squawks as they fly over and to see them up close in our neighborhood trees.

Their beauty is often hidden as they are camouflaged by our greenery.

When do you stop and see what is hidden?
(San Diego, CA)

This brief encounter brought wonder and awe:  something out-of-the-ordinary just happened; something unexpected.  And, as my friends know, I began musing about dialogue!

For example, like the parrots:

  • Am I cautious when others approach?
  • Are my words and intentions camouflaged?
  • Do I focus only on what feeds my interests and worldview?

Is growth possible in unexpected places?
(Tintagell, Cornwall, England)

Our world is filled with opportunities to learn, to migrate our ways of seeing, and to seek the Beauty Hidden in others... and ourselves!  If we choose, humans can adapt and grow in almost every circumstance.  I wonder what has been happening in our time where our camouflage hides more, fear and caution is growing, and we are focused more on our own needs.

What do you think is happening?

Can you see people and their beauty reflected?
(Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, England)

Traveling in Britain a few years back, I was taken by the baptismal font in Salisbury Cathedral.  The clarity of the water, the gentle sound of water overflowing, and the stillness that reflected the beauty... building and people.  I gazed into the reflection and wondered about the images and impressions touching the water:
  • What impressions do we leave on others?
  • How have we touched gently our family and friends?
  • Can the Hidden Beauty be drawn forth as we learn to look up... and notice?

This week, may we look up and notice.  May we seek the hidden beauty that surrounds us.  May we be filled with wonder and awe.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Gifts Revealed

When was the last time you were excited about receiving a gift?  The remembered anticipation of a child at Christmas... the wonder of the gift wrap... the mystery of what was hidden inside?

My older brother would unwrap slowly the gift wrap, hoping to keep remnants of it for future use.  Once the bows and ribbons were removed, I and my other siblings would rip into the paper.  Our curiosity could not be slowed.

As we grew older, we would try to guess what was inside before unwrapping the gift.  How well did we know the giver?  Did the giver listen to our wants and wishes?

What gift have you been offered?  Did you open it?
(Photo credit: The Tragedy of the Unopened Gift,
A Line From Linda

When clothes were received rather than toys, it was sometimes difficult to hide the disappointment on our faces.  The unvarnished truth of childhood emotions while learning lessons of being thankful for what was received.

I don't recall ever putting a gift back in the box, though, and refusing it.  There may have been exchanges due to size or color or duplicate gifts, but the Gifts Received were seldom (if ever!) given back.

I wonder today about the gifts we are given each day: the mystery of each person we encounter and the slow unwrapping and revelation of the Person Hidden.  Do we give back what has been received?

How do you use the gifts received?
(Photo credit: How Many Combinations are Possible
Using 6 LEGO Bricks?, Chris Higgins

I was reflecting on these thoughts while meeting with my supervisor, Jeff, this past week.  He is the type of supervisor who allows us to work from our strengths while challenging us to expand our skill sets.  He encourages us to unwrap the Talents Unexplored.

Jeff has a side hobby:  LEGO... but not what you would imagine!  He takes these individual bricks and bends the normal understanding of how LEGO structures should be built.  Some would describe his creations as illegal, not using LEGO bricks as they were intended.  Others see beauty and art.

The gift of Jeff is his unbounded curiosity... the willingness to explore... the ability to accept What Is while testing and revealing What Can be... the Gifts Hidden.

Can you look beyond the way it should be?
(Photo credit: BrickBending, Jeff Sanders)

Dialogue allows us to receive the Gift of Other, to encourage the slow unwrapping of what is inside, and to accept the Gift Given.  We are bending and adapting to what is and the possibilities of what can be.  Rather than challenging what is revealed by saying "It shouldn't be this way" we are invited to say, "Thank you for helping me see anew."

Questions to consider:

  • How do you know if you are in a box?
  • Have you boxed others in by your definitions of them?
  • Can we recapture the joys of unwrapping the gifts of Self and Other?

May this week allow us to seek possibilities.  May we understand what boxes us in.  May our imagination and curiosity open the gifts of wonder and awe.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A shout out to Jeff Sanders, who has taught me to dream of possibilities.  Check out his LEGO art:


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Tangled No More

I've had a "smart phone" for many years now, allowing it to monitor my work-life patterns.  But, we've resisted buying a "smart TV" until this past week.  Our thinking:  we already have over 150 cable channels -- the majority we don't watch! --  so why introduce more distractions into our lives.

We now have a new member of the family, and have memberships to Amazon Prime and PBS Passport.  Congratulations seemed to be in order... until we moved the entertainment center away from the wall and stared at the spaghetti of dusty and entangled wires!

Where to begin with years of neglect?

What memories entangle your present life?

Over three hours, we helped one another dust the entertainment center, declutter the wires by sorting and removing unwanted or broken wires, and hook up our newest purchase.  Oftentimes, we needed one another to hold the flashlight and shed light into dark spaces, lift heavy objects, read instructions, and test hookups.

Eventually, we were back to normal... almost: the TV worked; we could listen to CDs; and we could switch sources to watch our DVDs.  (Yes, we are still behind when it comes to our collections of music and purchased shows!)

Everything worked... until I realized that a portion of the larger screen positioned in the entertainment center was hidden:  I was not seeing all of the screen because of where I was sitting!

Are prickly entanglements encountered today?
(Wrigley Botanical Gardens, Avalon, Catalina)

This exercise in updating to a "smart lifestyle" raised several questions:

  • What relationships have I neglected?
  • Are there entanglements that need to be addressed?
  • Who can help shine light into the darker corners of my life?
  • Am I not seeing the whole story because of my positions and perspectives?
And, maybe more importantly, is my life any smarter because of the smart devices that may clutter my daily life?

Where are your perspectives and values aligned?
(Mosque-Cathedral, Cordoba, Spain)

I sometimes amaze myself!  Not because I can stay calm or patient in most circumstances.  Not because I am sometimes creative in redesigning processes and user interfaces.  Not because I can learn new technologies.

No, I am amazed when I come across dusty and tangled situations that I have neglected.  I am amazed when I realize that I need others to shine the light on my inadequacies.  And I am amazed when I realize that being smart is not the same as owning smart devices.

As we look at our complex and entangled world this week:

  • May we move our self-focused entertainment centers;
  • May we learn to dust off and clear out years of neglect; and,
  • May we be willing to sit in another location to seek out different perspectives.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)