Saturday, January 29, 2022

Wisps of Ideas

Have you ever wondered where your thoughts come from?  Are there times when you are surprised by what bubbles up in your mind about someone else ("Now where did that come from?!")?

There are times when I cannot turn off my brain:  working through a project; worried about an upcoming deadline or decision; trying to solve a mystery ("Where did I put my phone?").

Sometimes, it seems as if my thoughts are clear, are connected, and have a purpose.  Other times they have a life of their own and wander, like wisps of smoke or clouds taking shape and then drifting around with the wayward winds.

What are you thinking right now?
(Photo: Wisps of Smoke at Night, Larry Gardepie)

In fact, did you know that rubber bands and thoughts/thinking have a lot in common?  Both can be stretched, and both contract!  Just think about the flexibility you might have on any given subject:

  • Am I open to new ways of thinking about that subject?
  • Am I closed off and convinced I have the answer and see it clearly?

As I am thinking about my own flexibility -- or lack of! -- I notice another thought emerging:  thoughts might be like wisps of smoke or clouds -- AND -- at the same time, they might be like the ocean depths:  there is so much more to consider!

Is it possible to hold both certainty and uncertainty
about a given subject... at the same time?
(Photo: Cloud Trails, Larry Gardepie)

I wonder about the structures and rules (SCRs: socially constructed realities) that I have accepted or established in my life.  Do they allow me to expand (or contract) in my way of thinking?  Do they provide the ability to follow the wayward winds and explore the depths of who I am -- or who you are?
I believe the beauty of thinking is sharing your thoughts with others.  Not to determine who is right or wrong, has the right answer or is still exploring.  Rather, by sharing our thoughts and listening to what another person thinks or feels, we expand our horizons.  We venture beyond the safe shores that protect one way of being (or thinking) and reach new areas of discovery.

Do the beauty of wisps and depths enlighten your day?
(Photo: Sea of Cortez sunset, Larry Gardepie)

Maybe in this divided world we are encouraged to set aside Thoughts Divisive that chain or lock us into violent struggles.  Maybe we are invited to Flexible Thinking that attracts sharing and nonviolent exchanges.  Maybe wayward wisps will allow to us See Anew the depth of discovery and the exploration of possibility.  Chains or Rubber Bands?
What do you think?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Dinner, Death and Dialogue

"Now, how did you get there?" a friend sometimes asks me as we talk.  We might start on one topic and suddenly I'll be talking about something not outwardly connected!  Let me give an example.

My mind was preoccupied with the Wolf Moon throughout the day.  The local news had been talking it up for several days, but when that evening arrived, our city was covered with clouds and a possibility of rain.  I was thinking about not seeing the Wolf Moon as a friend and I had dinner at a Japanese restaurant.  My earlier reflections centered on an individual hope, a small moment in time to watch this one moon rise.

Then I noticed the Japanese lanterns, moon-like in their appearance, all shedding light on our outdoor dining area.  My mind refocused on the moment at hand: dinner with a friend; the ability to share our time together, shedding light on each other's thoughts and experiences.

When do you recognize another person's light?
(Photo:  Japanese Lanterns, Larry Gardepie)

Later that evening, June - a friend from North Carolina, sent a photo of the Wolf Moon illuminating the snow-covered landscape around her property.  We met June and Buz, her husband, on a tour several years ago.  Observing how they communicated, watched over, and took care of one another other, were sacred moments.  On our last evening together, June and Buz shared how their faith and love guided them.  June's comment about the photo was so true to her:  "Give God the credit for the night light."

Knowing that Buz had died recently, I wondered about the individual night lights that shine in our darkest moments.

Does your life reflect what is important?
(Photo:  Wolf Moon over snow-covered field,
June Buzzard, January 17 2022)

Recalling the days and months after my parents died, I recollected feelings of loss and separation, the thoughts left unshared, and the path ahead without them.  How do we see ourselves without the other?  Our love and faith are tested as we re-member, re-define, and re-connect with what is important: those night lights we nurtured when all was well.

Is that what is happening with the music group Il Divo right now?  Four talented individuals were brought together to combine their talents.  After entertaining millions of people for almost two decades, Carlos MarĂ­n unexpectedly died of COVID last month.  Are they still Il Divo without Carlos?

What happens when someone leaves you?
(Photo credit:  Il Divo, The Promise)

I can hear my friend asking at this point, "How did you get there?"!!  I moved from an individual thought (wanting to see the Wolf Moon and June's photo) to shared experiences (Japanese lanterns; dinner with a friend; observing June and Buz) to wondering about the loss of a loved one (Buz; my parents; Carlos).

My friend's question is valid... as are my interconnected thoughts.  Our willingness to share our thought processes with others -- June and Buz' faith and love; the God-inspired night lights of our lives; the experience of loss and separation -- is what dialogue is about.  Sharing with another "how we got there" is the movement from individual to common-unity.

Are you willing to explain your thought processes to another person this week?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)



Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Power of Waiting

It is fitting to celebrate Betty White on her 100th birthday (January 17).  Her life's work is on display through TV reruns, YouTube recordings, books, and charity work.  People marvel at her longevity -- age, a career spanning 8 decades, and her positive focus on life.  In If You Ask Me, she describes how her comedic timing developed:

"I'd be sitting there as a kid, wanting to add to the conversation, wanting to jump right in with an idea, but if I blurted something out it might ruin the moment.  It taught me a lot about the power of waiting." 

Several images came to mind when I read this:

  • Standing around a Vancouver's Gastown steam clock waiting for something to happen
  • Sitting in the hospital during a loved one's surgery
  • Listening to a friend's recent challenges

Are you willing to wait?
(Photo:  Gastown Steam Clock, Vancouver - Larry Gardepie)

I also thought back on the dialogue, mentoring, and mediation trainings I have participated in.  Each focused on the importance of listening... and waiting for a question to arise.  Through these trainings I realized how I am conditioned to give my perspective:  I am impatiently waiting for you to finish talking so that I can tell you about me!
The power of waiting allows us to slow down our responses, consider what we have heard, and allow a different interaction to occur:
  • What did you mean by...?
  • Tell me more.
  • Help me to understand.

What is your perspective on...?
(Photo: San Francisco Mission District Murals - Larry Gardepie)

Waiting does not mean that we are disengaged.  It
doesn't mean that we agree with another person's conclusions or decisions.  Rather, our role is to listen for connection and understanding; our responsibility is to respect and accept the similarities and differences.  We try to understand the conclusions and decisions by checking out the reasoning or experiences that influenced those endpoints.
The process of waiting gives us time to connect within ourselves as well:
  • Why am I reacting so strongly to what is being said?
  • Am I being challenged to reconsider my own values and experiences?
  • What does this say about me -- in relationship with the person who is speaking?

What risks are you willing to take?
(Photo: Cliff Walk, Capilano Suspension
Bridge Park, Vancouver
- Larry Gardepie)

Waiting is like crossing a bridge, taking a risk that something important is on the other side.  It means setting aside the comfort attached to our own thoughts and conclusions and inviting curiosity:  What divides us?  What can bring us together?  How can we learn to trust again?

Like Betty, may we learn the power of waiting, and may we take the risk to see the world through lenses of humor, caring, and love.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Our Choice to See Beauty

Over the past several months I have had the opportunity to slow down:  retirement does that, I guess!  This new pace has allowed me time to review and reflect on what I may have missed while working:

  • What I did not see as I hurried past someone
  • Ideas I might not have heard or understood
  • Solutions in a situation not considered

This period of reflection has given me time to re-notice the beauty around me:  the sunrises and sunsets; the changes in weather and the seasons; and the diversity of possibilities before us.

One realization:  each day begins with a Choice -- the choice to slow down and pay attention.

What do you see at the beginning of each day?
(Photo: sunrise over San Diego harbor, Larry Gardepie)

Even in the darkest of moments we have a choice:
  • Do we react instinctively to what we see, hear, or experience?
  • Are we willing to slow down, search for options, and respond out of the depth of who we are, what we value, and what is the best for everyone?

The darkest moments become brighter when I look with intention:  the ability to see the beauty and worth of each person encountered and inviting them into the solution-finding.

Do you see possibilities in the darkest moments?
(Photo: luminous clouds before a storm, Larry Gardepie)

Intention -- purpose or attitude -- opens our minds and hearts in how we see others: through
the lenses of history and routine, skepticism and fear, doubt, and uncertainty... or... can we intentionally set aside these distractions and anticipate a new encounter, invite a new dialogue, and expect to be awed by the richness and beauty of another person?

Can you recount the beauty of this day?
(Photo: sunset at sea, Larry Gardepie)

Whether a daily or weekly review, during major changes in our lives, or throughout the seasons of our life, reflection invites us to be honest with ourselves.  What is equally important is the opportunity to share these thoughts with others: w
here I think I have changed; the changes I have noticed in you; and the choices we make to remain in relationship.

May you choose to see beauty this week!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Welcome What Has Never Been

Our world has been struggling with COVID-19 for two long years.  I understand the desire to move on.  After all, it's a New Year and it's been difficult to stay focused and vigilant this past year.

The Dark Night of this pandemic seems to go against the  human spirit -- the part of ourselves that hopes for an end to suffering, death, and uncertainty.  We want to get on with Life.  We want the best for ourselves and our loved ones.  We say we want to get back to Normal (dictionary definition = conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; familiar).

Where do you seek Light and Goodness?
(Photo:  Full moon at sea, shrouded in clouds)

But, as each New Year approaches, isn't there a period of planning and anticipation... a time of remembrance and reflection... seeking to resolve changes in our habits?  Aren't we focused and vigilant as we await an untarnished year ahead?

I never fully appreciated the song, Auld Lang Syne, until I read through the lyrics... and looked up what "auld lang syne" means.

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne?"

The poem's Scottish title, Auld Land Syne, may be translated into standard English as "old long since" -- or less literally as: "long, long ago"; "days gone by"; or "old times".  Before the ball dropped in Times Square or balloons fell at our parties, I wondered what continues to draw us back to that "Old Normal" of pre-pandemic times... our old habits... old times?

What are you celebrating from last year?
(Photo: ready for the balloons to drop)

Maybe, as we step into this New Year, we can look to our furthest horizons and imagine a different Way of Being, an original or new Normal :

  • What values do we have in common?
  • Why do we seek familiar routines and shy away from the unknown?
  • When do we expect people to conform to our ideas and beliefs?

Normal is about common standards or practices where we conform and perform regular routines.  In many ways, we don't have to think - familiarity allows us to be on autopilot.

Is that really what we want?  Is that the Normal that draws us?

What new horizons draw you?
(Photo: sunset over Lanai, Hawaii)

Or, are we actually looking for comfort in knowing that I can trust in you or what I see, that the familiar brings comfort and peace?
A Christmas card that I kept last year stated simply:  "And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have not been."  If we reshape our outlook, maybe our approach this year is to nurture our relationships, ask questions where we don't already know the answers, and develop a curiosity of what has never been.

How might you welcome what has never been?
(Photo credit:  Rainer Maria Rilke)

As 2022 emerges, let us break away from our auld lang syne and co-create a year that contains the hope, the light, and the comfort that we seek.  Let us not return to the old Normal of the past.  Let our vision draw us together and focus our attention on a sense of common good.  Let us explore what has never been!


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)