Saturday, June 25, 2022

Wandering and Wondering

This is the first time in over 5 years that I have had difficulty writing this weekly blog!  Normally, I write about what I am noticing that week:  conversations with friends and loved ones; encounters with strangers in public areas; reflections as I consider my past and present... wondering about our future together.

This week, though, I am overwhelmed with scenes of unrest, harsh words, and anger; political parties with differing agendas; people watching and reacting (or not) to the January 6th hearings and SCOTUS decisions; COVID lingering in our midst...

As we move on with our daily lives, I wonder if we are ignoring the seriousness of this moment in time.  Are we seeking to return to Normal... but haven't realized the Past Normal no longer exists, has disappeared, or has been destroyed by our anger or indifference?

What foundations in our lives need to be repaired?
(Photo: wharf destroyed by fire, Astoria, Oregon,
Larry Gardepie)

I am aware of a numbness in my outlook.  My ability to consider solutions, seek advice from others, or look for possibilities is being challenged with the circumstances we face as a society.  An example of inconsistencies I am noticing:  just a few months ago, one group of people was frustrated and angry when choice was taken away from them (having to wear a mask in public settings or get a vaccine in order to keep a job).  Now, other choices are being eliminated or threatened to be taken away... and some of these same people are on news outlets celebrating decisions to remove these choices from others.

I understand that there is a fine balance between individual rights, decisions being imposed on others, and what is good and proper for everyone.  I wonder, though, do we notice when our own views tip the balance in our favor and away from another person's beliefs?

Where do you have balance in your life?
(Photo credit:  Miyoko Shida Rigolo, Georgia's Got Talent)

I have questioned since grade school why one person or group has to dominate or always WIN... forcing the other person or group to be humiliated with LOSS:  we celebrate our win but are oblivious to the pain being felt by others.  How might we walk together... and away from this dualism of domination, bullying, and having to conquer?

We have several choices before us:

  • Are we willing to stay in relationship with people who experience life differently?
  • Can we set aside our ignorance, disbelief, anger and violence to ask questions and seek understanding?
  • Are we able to coexist and treat everyone respectfully?

Are you willing to wander with others
as we try to understand what is happening?
(Photo credit:  British crinkle-crankle wall, deMilked)

Maybe it is time to set down any weapons of violence, disrespect, and dislike.  Maybe it is time to sit down and discuss our numbness, our confusion, our vulnerability.  Maybe it is time we realize... we need one another!
What would it be like to:
  • Accept diverse ideas and opinions?
  • Move away from Win-Lose, Right-Wrong, and Either-Or thinking?
  • Strive for Both-And solutions?

I wonder... is it possible to balance individual and societal needs... of acceptance, worth, value and respect?  I believe the answer is "Yes!"

How are you feeling?  What do you think is happening?  Will you wander and wonder with me? 

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Looking Upward and Outward

Sitting in a hotel atrium a few weeks ago, I naturally looked up... gaining a different perspective of my surroundings.  I say naturally because it came so easily.  I guess I look up a lot... at trees and clouds; at vaulted ceilings in cathedrals; and yes, at cobwebs hanging down from the beams in the family room!  

Maybe as a child we got used to looking up:  into the eyes of Loved Ones; for approval and recognition; and at our role models, idols, and heroes.

What inspires you to look up?
(Photo:  Embassy Suites BWI,
Larry Gardepie, 2022)

Weeks before and after this Atrium Awareness, I noticed that I was looking outward:  at the grandeur of the Grand Canyon; the magnificent rock formations in Bryce and Zion National Parks; and the expansiveness of the Columbia River Gorge.  So much natural beauty surrounding us... if we but take the time to notice, absorb, and be transformed!

What do you see when you look outward?
(Photo:  Columbia River Gorge,
Larry Gardepie, 2022)

Dialogue offers similar opportunities to look upward and outward, moments when we:

  • See beyond the words and actions;
  • Accept what is actually present; and
  • Believe in the grand and magnificent miracle of relationships that expand our humble selves.

How can you change your perspective?
(Photo:  Sun illuminating Rossio Fountain, Lisbon,
Larry Gardepie, 2017)

Sometimes it is a matter of changing one's position or perspective to see the light shining through another person or having the courage to look into the sun to catch the rays that illuminate their words and actions.  Looking upward and outward can become natural to us if we are willing to share what we are thinking and feeling... followed by listening to the other person.  No action or response is necessary... except for the acceptance of a new perspective that is offered to us.

Sitting and looking up in an atrium or outward at natural beauty allows us time to consider that we may not have seen or experienced it all.  We are invited to see beyond what we knew before, and we can remove the cobwebs that distract us from seeing the Beauty Ever-Present.

May our eyes refocus our hearts upward and outward this week.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Life is Fragile: Dialogue is Fragile

What do the following have in common:  a recent ER visit with an overnight hospital observation; the death of a friend's brother; current Supreme Court deliberations; and this contagion of mass shootings?  Life, death, the unpredictability of each moment, the tenuous and fragile nature of our world... and beauty, dignity, and grace!

These themes also came to mind when I walked along the rim of the Grand Canyon and beside the Colorado River in Glen Canyon:  the tenacity of desert plants blooming in adverse conditions; life risking to reveal itself before inevitable death claims it; and the balance between what is known and unknown.  Life, death, the unpredictability of each moment, the tenuous and fragile nature of our world... and beauty, dignity, and grace!

Where do you see life?
(Photo:  Native Flower, Grand Canyon,
May 2022, Larry Gardepie)

Our lives are fragile vessels of hope, dreams, and inspiration as we encounter moments of despair, unfulfilled promises, and discouragement.  What is interesting is our ability to bounce back, find meaning, and move forward.

It's as if life chooses to overcome death at every turn: our fragile natures ache to survive!

Is your focus on this moment?
(Photo:  Native Flower, Glen Canyon
May 2022, Larry Gardepie)

Dialogue is similar:  each moment is fragile.  It cannot be taken for granted.  It requires a choice... an invitation to be in relationship with each person we encounter.  Where is this choice to dialogue fragile?  When we refuse an invitation to be in relationship with people, ideas, and interpretations that we don't understand or agree with.  Our ability to see beauty, dignity, and grace in each person provides the foundation to grow even in adverse conditions.

This is not an invitation to hurt oneself or to go into an abusive or hate-filled relationship.  Dialogue is a challenge... to consider... to notice... to be open to other possibilities.  Maybe our first step is to consider:  life or death; predictability or not; tenuous questions or potential.  Is there an opening to dialogue?

Are you ready to soar?
(Photo, Blue Heron, Glen Canyon, May 2022
Larry Gardepie)

Rafting down Glen Canyon we came across wildlife that continue to dwell in the shadows of these magnificent walls.  Stopping along our route, we encountered petroglyphs of Ancestral Puebloan peoples telling their stories of hunting and gathering, stories of being in community.  Thousands of years later we continue to tell our tales... of sickness and healing, life and death, decisions and changes in thinking.

Maybe the challenge for our time is to balance this moment with a longer view:  to accept our past with today, and to see today as a marker of our future together.  Maybe we can only soar when we have unburdened ourselves of past hurts, sorrows, and misunderstandings.  Maybe we are invited to bloom where we are planted by
communicating stories that uplift and inspire... stories that consider a new possibility.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Life is Precious: Dialogue is Precious

On a recent tour through the Southwest, we encountered rugged beauty: how geological upheaval created plateaus; how wind and water carved out mesas, buttes, hoodoos, and canyons.  We also saw how humanity has reshaped its environment with structures like dams, lakes, and canals -- storing and diverting water for recreation and survival.

Returning home, I have been reflecting on beauty, upheaval, diversion, and survival.

What do you dam up or store internally?
(Photo:  Lake Powell, Larry Gardepie, May 2022)

These post-pandemic musings have tended to focus on:

  • How upheaval happens so quickly;
  • How we divert attention away from Topics Unpleasant; and,
  • How survival is Wired Within.

When faced with momentous events, we sometimes encounter paradoxes:  for instance, how small we seem in the grandeur of the universe and yet how precious life is.  The Both-And of All speaks to us of our Worth and Value.

Where do you feel small and unseen?
(Photo:  Lake Powell, Larry Gardepie, May 2022)

As unexpected events unfold, I recall a phrase a friend often says:  "Life happens."  For me, these two words have helped me to maintain a balance between reaction and response:  that is, keeping a focus on the preciousness of life, relationships and understanding invites me to pause, take a breath, and decide on a better course of action.

Rather than upheaval, diversion, and self-survival, I can retain focus on the beauty of that moment and seek what is best for all concerned.

What is precious in your life?
(Photo credit:  Cronin Family, May 2021)

Dialogue is also precious:  it allows Moments Unclear to become clarified -- by noticing the upheaval and the wearing down; by asking questions to understand; and by allowing defended energy to be redirected, self- or other-violent thoughts to be channeled to non-violence, and systemic justice to be restored.
As you continue to explore and re-normalize your life, may you discover what is precious in your life!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)