Saturday, April 30, 2022

Beyond Invitation

You may have heard about, seen or attended a "Beyond" event.... "Beyond Monet" or "Beyond Van Gogh."  It's a wonderful way of introducing and immersing yourself into an artist's life story and artwork.  My brother alerted us to the "Beyond Van Gogh" exhibit in our city.

After going through the entrance, you walk down a series of corridors that briefly introduce you to the history and contribution of this individual.  Eventually, you enter a huge, empty warehouse-sized area... bare, with the exception of a few benches, floor-to-ceiling panels, and walls.  The artist's work is digitally displayed on the panels, walls, and floor, choreographed to music that sets the mood or art theme.

When do you take the time to sit and notice?
(Photo:  Beyond Van Gogh, entryway to exhibit,
Larry Gardepie)

Several thoughts came to mind as I sat on various benches or walked around the room:
  • The invitation to sit and notice;
  • The ability to bring artwork alive through motion and music; and,
  • How much I don't know!

As the themes changed, the colors and textures of the walls and floor seemed to melt and transform:  from warm and cooling colors to vibrant splashes of life; from earthy country scenes to faces of farm workers; from city buildings to starry nights.  The Light of Life captured and reflected Van Gogh's interpretation of life, what he saw and experienced.

What do you know about a Loved One?
(Photo: Beyond Van Gogh, projected artwork,
Larry Gardepie)

Many galleries and museums gather and display artwork.  I've seldom wanted to stay and learn more at these galleries.  There was something different about this exhibit:  the ability to Go Beyond.  Though dying fairly unknown and poor, Van Gogh's contributions to art and his letters to his brother live on and are re-imagined... beyond the 37 years that he graced our world.

I wonder what captures our attention:

  • Is it an invitation to sit and notice?
  • Is it new ways of presenting information?
  • Is it the humility to accept what we don't know?

Are you willing to sit and listen?
(Photo: Beyond Van Gogh, Immersed in His Artwork,
Larry Gardepie)

In a similar way, I wonder about our invitation to dialogue with each person we meet:  Do we take the time to notice, to sit, and to listen?  What information do we present and in what form do we offer the information?  Are we willing to accept that there are areas we haven't experienced or that we just don't know the answer?  Are we willing to stay and linger - to ask and to learn?
The invitation this week is to go beyond what we assume, what we think, and what we know or don't know.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Smoke and Mirrors: A Matter of Perspective

I had a funny experience a few weeks ago: using the Crew Chat function on the cruise ship app, I was texting Customer Service to explain a situation I found myself in.  I wanted to get across that a benefit had been promised before the cruise but was no longer available.  I used the phrase "Smoke and Mirrors" to get across the idea that promises sounded good until they are not kept: the cruise line seemed to practice "bait and switch" tactics.

In my mind, the text exchange was courteous, a model of true dialogue.  At the end of this written conversation, the Customer Representative circled back to what I had mentioned at the beginning:  she asked about the smoke and wondered if I was in danger:  smoke = fire nearby!

What ideas are illusive to explain or understand?
(Photo Credit:  Smoke from Zuiderdam cruise ship,
Larry Gardepie)

It was at this point that I wondered about the text dialogue just finished:

  • How often do I assume ideas have been conveyed accurately?
  • What happens when colloquialisms, phrases, or images do not have a shared meaning?
  • Whose responsibility is it when we misunderstand one another?

Oftentimes, I think that my conversations mirror exactly what I am thinking, what I am trying to externally reveal about my internal thoughts and ideas.  I wonder, though, if more than one image could be emerging?

Do we see clearly what others are seeing?
(Photo Credit:  Zuiderdam mirrors, Larry Gardepie)

Maybe it's not a matter of blame or fault when we misunderstand another person.  Maybe these are opportunities to explore what was said and understood.  Maybe misconceptions provide ways to see abstract ideas in new ways:  what I initially thought may have other meanings.

What do we hear, think, and conclude?
~~ Click on image to enlarge ~~
(Photo Credit:  Family Circus, March 27, 2022, Bil and Jeff Keane)

In some ways our abstractness may be the beginning of Dialogue Unfinished.  We may think we are being clear when we share ideas and thoughts.  If we shift our stance slightly to include the possibility that misunderstandings may be present, then curiosity, questions and exploration may reveal what was incomplete or unsaid.

In other words, what do we discover in the smoke and mirrors of our thoughts and assumptions?  Maybe there is more.

A question for you:  what do you consider old?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, April 16, 2022

A Heart That Listens

Have you heard the phrase "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"?  Recently, I read  that this saying first appeared in Greek in the 3rd century BC.  The saying did not surface in English in its current form until the 19th century.  There were similar versions as people over the centuries attempted to explain the subjective nature of what we like or don't like.

I wonder:  does Beauty Exist... whether we see it or not... and we have the personal choice to experience it or not?

Are we able to see beauty?
(Photo credit:  Michael Tompkins)

In other words, our seeing and accepting Beauty does not negate its existence.  Rather, our personal and individual choices filter the world:  we accept only a portion of the beauty that exists; there is so much more than what we hold in our limited and time-focused minds.

If this is true about Beauty, is it the same for Truth and Kindness and Goodness?  They exist, but our minds pass over what we do not understand.  Our finite lives experience what we are able to in that Moment of Choice.

Does beauty exist if we don't see it?
(Photo: Sunset at Sea, Larry Gardepie)

Dialogue is one tool that allows us to ask questions, to seek understanding, and to touch briefly another person's world... a world of Truth and Beauty that already existed even before our questions and understanding.  The passing over and resurrecting The Choice to see beauty invites us into opportunities to reconnect with family and friends.  The ability to Be Kind and Listen is the salve that heals our blindness to the Beauty, Truth, and Goodness that already existed in those around us.

When can your kindness heal the hearts of others?
(Quote attributed to:  F. Scott Fitzgerald)

May these Holy Days of Passover, Ramadan and Easter open our minds and eyes to the Holy One that exists in you and your families.

Blessings as faith stories are remembered and dialogue enkindles what is important. 

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Life is Good

Whether at home, work, or leisure, we seek out what is routine and normal: those Patterns of Familiarity which bring comfort and a sense of security.  Just think of what soothes you throughout the day:  your typical wake up time; the morning beverage and food that starts the day; steps taken to ensure Loved Ones are prepared for their day; the route to work or what is completed before work begins… so many comfortable or normal patterns that define our days.

I wonder if that is why so many people felt uprooted or unnerved these past few years as our normal” days were changed… we were afloat… life’s ordinariness beyond our control.

Where is your focus?
(Photo: Hawaiian Sunset, Larry Gardepie)

As these pandemic-affected years have given way to a different normal, I
 have found the need to break free from my day-to-day life, a desire to vacate the routines — “vacation from” these norms.  My solace is being on the ocean, a routine familiar before COVID… but also changed.  Each day is recognizable, but there are Moments Inspired — beyond my control — that distract me from the norms and usual rhythms of a day at sea.

Sometimes a breakthrough occurs as I encounter a new situation, cross paths with a companion traveler, or catch site of a beautiful sunrise or sunset.  The day seems different because of these unexpected encounters:  life is changed!

What rays of hope do you see on the horizon?
(Photo: Sunset over Pacific Ocean, Larry Gardepie)

As I grow older, I find that I need both the familiar and the unexpected… the normal and the extraordinary… and I have limited control over what happens next!  Life is Good when I handle what I can, and then go along for the ride when the unexpected happens.

Seeking balance sometimes means letting go of my perceptions of how life should be — how I want it to be — and realize that others are experiencing much different realities than mine.

Can you see the goodness in yourself and others?
(Photo:  Sunset over Sea of Cortez, Larry Gardepie)


For instance, the war between Russia and Ukraine has unbalanced many of our lives.  Am I willing to let go of my frustration and anger over higher prices and realize that others are suffering much greater losses than I am?  Can I listen to a larger global message and realize that wars between nations and difficulties between individuals have similar roots?  Can I see goodness in others even when our norms are not aligned?

May we focus on the unexpected.  May we accept when future horizons cannot be controlled.  May we find a Willingness Within to see goodness in others.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Clouds Illusions

Have you ever had a tune stuck in your mind, playing over and over?  I might not remember the words, artist or lyrics, but the melody sure knows how to linger… playing over and over and over again!

One song has been playing in my mind for a few days now, so I decided to look up the words.  It’s Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides, Now, where one of the stanzas reads:  “I’ve looked at life from both sides now… From win and lose and still somehow… It’s life’s illusions I recall… I really don’t know life at all.”

What illusions cloud what you think?
(Photo: Glacier Bay, Larry Gardepie)

What an intriguing way to look at life these days:  looking at life from both sides and realizing that we really don’t know life at all!  What are the illusions that are recalled… and probably held onto?  Isn’t it time to look beyond the illusions and seek the Light Hidden and Truth Unspoken?

Can we see the light beyond the clouds?
(Photo: Clouds and Stars in a Night Sky, Larry Gardepie)

When I finally accept that I might not understand a situation or know the answer to a problem, my mind momentarily panics… it becomes defensive:  “I should have known“, “You didn’t tell me”, “It’s their problem”, and “They did this to themselves.”  As I slow down and listen to myself, I become self-reflective:  “Where did that come from?”, “Is this what I really think or feel?” and “What kind of person do I want to become?”.

Eventually, as curiosity emerges, I move from statements to questions, and there is a willingness to look at my filters (illusions) and the conclusions (clouds) I have hidden behind.  Now begins the real work of asking and seeking what is Real… beyond the Illusions Created.

When does Light amplify your Illusions?
(Photo: Clouds and Ocean, Larry Gardepie)

Illusions and conclusions separate us; curiosity and reflection connect us; exploration and discovery enlighten us.

May we be willing to set aside What We Think We Know and seek What We Do Not Know.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)