Saturday, July 30, 2022

Wired to Blame

A friend was in a serious car accident recently.  As she shared her story, my mind drifted back 20 years when I was caught in a blizzard as I headed to the Denver airport.  Could I have done anything differently before my car rear-ended the other car?  Did the other driver really pull off the road when the car stalled -- as was told to the state trooper?   My pictures, after all, showed the other car in the slow lane - not safely across the shoulder!

Darcy talked about similar questions:

  • What happened?
  • Who was to blame?
  • Could this accident have been prevented?

Who do you blame?
(Photo credit:  What Happens When a Car Accident...,
Abels and Annes, P.C.)

Darcy noted that we, as humans, seem wired to rush to judgment, to blame, to assign fault, to figure out what happened, and to find solutions.  For instance, friends describe Darcy as a cautious driver -- it couldn't have been her fault!

Accidents disrupt our lives and encourage us to look at this broken world through other lenses as we seek to find answers and the reason behind a situation.

How do you see the world after an accident?
(Photo:  shattered glass barrier,
Amsterdam, Netherlands, Larry Gardepie)
 I wonder:
  • Why do we find fault or need to blame?
  • What if we have misjudged the situation or the other person?
  •  Are we willing to learn something new about ourselves?

Reflecting on and sharing our thoughts will help us to reconcile our need to find fault and blame with our desire for understanding and solutio

Where do you find love and acceptance?
(Photo:  San Francisco Heart, Union Square)

As Darcy describes her physical healing, she is trusting others to remove her neck brace -- anticipating the still-present pain and uncertainty when her neck is not supported.  Security and control is set aside, replaced by the comfort of family and friends who listen and understand.
At the time of my accident 20 years ago, Colorado was a No Fault state.  Imagine what it would be like NOT to find fault or seek blame?  Would we focus on healing faster... be concerned about the other person's welfare... and seek connection and answers together?
May any mishap this week open us more to a desire to heal a broken world and less on filtering our reactions through fault and blame.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, July 23, 2022


"I've been hacked!" seems to be a common refrain in this technical world of ours.  Almost daily I receive a bogus text from a friend wanting me to open an attachment that I might be interested in or clicking a link because I know the person in this obituary.  I also receive follow-up emails from these friends apologizing, explaining that they have been hacked, and hoping that I had not responded.  Passwords are changed, and life goes on!

I can understand our caution and skepticism as we navigate this cyber world:  the preying on people's emotions; the confusion created; the disruption to relationships; the darkness and uncertainty.

How do you respond when you have been deceived?
(Photo credit:  11 Signs You Have been Hacked,
Irish Computer Society)

In a way our relationships are called into question:

  • How well do I know this person?
  • Why would -- or would -- this person send such a mysterious text or email?
  • Do I need to strengthen the words that pass between my relationships?

And, possibly, our thoughts have been shaken as we decide how to respond to these mysterious messages.  Do I check in with the person, asking about what was said and is it true?

Who are you?  How would you describe yourself?
(Photo credit:  Unsplashed)

As we navigate this complex, ever-changing world, it is important that we know ourselves and that we are wiling to share our thoughts, feelings, and concerns with others.  It is equally important that we develop our sense of curiosity about others: asking questions; extending invitations to hear what is important in their lives; resetting the Passwords of Understanding that protect each other.
The connections created will allow us to feel safe even when our lives are hacked by those who don't respect and honor who we are.

Where can you create safe environments?
(Photo:  walking together post-fireworks,
Santa Barbara, Larry Gardepie)

A friend and I were at the Santa Barbara beaches for the July 4th festivities and fireworks.  It was new and unfamiliar, yet we felt safe throughout the day.  The Santa Barbara police created a safe environment to celebrate our country's holiday and ensured a safe passage home for people after the fireworks.  It took planning and coordination on their part -- and a long day of interacting with the revelers.
Practicing our dialogue skills -- where we listen to understand, are curious to know, and invite connection -- is one way of creating safe environments to password-protect our lives.  We come to know the words that trigger a hack or division and we come to choose words that support and connect.
May you be safe this week from hackers who are attempting to disrupt your life.  May you seek out people who support and defend who you are.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Help Me Understand

For the past several years, long-time friends from elementary school have gathered virtually to reminisce on our childhood friendships and to catch-up on our lives.  Though we are different people decades away from our grade school years, there remains a kernel of who we were and are to one another.  I've been mulling over our last gathering:  at one point the conversation became much more serious than previous reunions.

Was it a reflection that we were ready to talk through today's complexities?  Were the differences in our current lives ready to stretch our past friendships?  Is there something hidden beyond the classroom and schoolyard remembrances?

Can you see beyond what you see today?
(Photo:  Balboa Park, San Diego, Larry Gardepie)

What I have learned about relationships in the intervening years since I was younger and more naive is the importance to value and accept people for who they are... their individual dreams, aspirations and experiences.  Mind you, I don't always remember these lessons!  Rather, I fall back into being anxious when not picked on a team or competing to be the best in the Classroom of Life or knowing that I have the right answer!

And, in the confusion of today's world, I find myself caught between opposing views or activists who require that I accept only their worldview.

I have to remind myself that I have moved away from the classroom and playground where the teacher or an adult moderated the environment... asking that we share the swings and balls and four square courts, allowing others who have raised their hands to answer the questions, and playing fair with one another.

Are you too close to a situation to see everything?
(Photo:  Dart Coffee Company, Santa Barbara,
Larry Gardepie)

Similar to our younger selves in the classroom and on the playground, I wonder if:

  • We take some situations too seriously.
  • There are instances when we do not see clearly.
  • We may need to step back and listen.
In addition, maybe we could relax more, play, and have fun!
How can you step back and consider another perspective?
(Photo:  Dart Coffee Company, Santa Barbara,
Larry Gardepie)

A phrase that I learned and have come to value -- but again, I admit I don't always use:  Help me understand...  In this one phrase I am: asking for help; expressing that I don't understand; and when said with curiosity and humility, inviting you to share your thoughts and ideas.  In essence, the adult who moderated our classroom and playground environment surfaces within me:  can we live together and share what we know and understand?

May we learn to value and accept others.  May we play fair in thoughts, words, and actions.  May we help each other to understand.
Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Saturday, July 9, 2022

Seek and Build Together

What do E-G-B-D-F, F-A-C-E, and Do-Re-Mi have in common?  As I was growing up, I remember learning the music scales of Every-Good-Boy-Does-Fine and FACE, but when Sound of Music introduced us to Do-Re-Mi, I was totally lost!  I never understood how the music scale mnemonics and this catchy tune worked together.

In fact, after all these years of my musical confusion, I still resist reading music and I can't sing a note correctly without standing next to someone who reads music and sings with confidence.  It is as if my childhood music lessons are on separate tracks that never converged.

Are there ideas that never intersect for you?
(Photo:  train tracks outside Santa Barbara, CA,
Larry Gardepie)

This memory came to mind last week while in church.  I was leafing through the worship guide to check which songs I knew.  The song for the Preparation of Gifts was "This is My Song" sung to the Finlandia tune.  I don't recall seeing or hearing this hymn before, so I read through the lyrics and tried to walk myself through the notes (A-G-A-B...).  I noticed that I was becoming frustrated:  I could figure out the notes but I still didn't know what they meant vocally.  When the Cantor stepped up and began practicing some of the songs and responses, I relaxed:  someone would be guiding us through the liturgy;  I didn't have to figure it out myself!

In that moment I was reminded that each of us has gifts and talents which open us to unique possibilities and potential.  We don't all have to be the same.  We don't have to do it alone!

Do you assume that you have to do everything well?
(Photo credit:  Unknown)

When it was time to sing "This is My Song" I was ready:

  • I may not understand all of the notes in my life, but I have gifts to offer.
  • I may not be confident when new situations arise, but there have been mentors to guide me along the way.
  • I may not be strong in all things, but as the song suggests, we must seek and build together.

What gifts do you share with the world?
~~ Click on photo credit link to view video and listen to song ~~
(Photo credit:  A Tribute to All Nations, YouTube)

Through confusion, frustration, and feeling inadequate, I am learning humility -- that quality to see myself in perspective and in relationship with others.  Each person has worth and value.  Every neighborhood, city, state, region, and country adds to the whole.  We must get beyond the myths of individualism and nationalism to understand that we need to listen to and accept the diversity that already exists.  Negating others and their truths actually diminishes who we are... individually and collectively.

I would invite you to click on the YouTube link, A Tribute to Nations, and consider the beauty that each country offers... that we offer one another.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Permission to Speak Freely

If I haven't mentioned it before, I am a Star Trek fan:  the Original Series; The Next Generation; Deep Space Nine; Voyager; Enterprise...  Growing up I was caught up in the seemingly-futuristic gadgetry.  Many of those devices are now part of our everyday lives:  cell phones; e-Readers; Siri and Alexa; iPads and tablets; and telemedicine... to name a few.  Besides these life-changing devices that support our access to information, keep us on schedule, and help us to communicate and interact, we have seen an exponential growth in computer-generated graphics, special effects, and artificial intelligence.  It's a much different world than 1966 when Gene Roddenberry introduced us to Captain Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy or 1987 when Captain Picard, Will Riker and Data came into our lives.

Our lexicon even boasts phrases like "Resistance is futile," "You will be assimilated," and "Permission to speak freely."

When do you speak freely?
(Photo credit:  Picard Quotes Patrick Stewart Turned
Into Pop Culture Touchtstones on Star Trek TNG, CBS

What I find interesting about science fiction and reality is the story telling:  what life could be like versus what we experience now.  It is as if we try to imagine another life where problems are solved or challenges are positive and conquerable.  I wonder if our story telling helps us to escape today in search of a different tomorrow?  Or, does the human spirit and imagination need an outlet to envision or strive for another outcome?

Between the polarities of Resistance and Assimilation lies Choice... that is, the freedom to choose and the permission to speak freely.

What symbolizes your freedom?
(Photo, American flag, Old Town San Diego,
Larry Gardepie)

For example, when Will Riker -- Captain Picard's "Number One" or his next in command -- was concerned about or disagreed with a decision, Riker would meet privately with Picard.  Then, out of respect for Picard, Riker would ask for permission to speak freely.  These actions of meeting privately, respecting the other person, and requesting and receiving permission allowed these TV characters to move into a new space:  they showed up differently to their conversation.  I would propose that this TV behavior modeling can work in real life as well.

With about 20 countries celebrating their national holidays or independence days in July -- Canada (July 1), the United States and the Philippines (July 4), France (July 14), Columbia (July 20), and the Netherlands (July 26) to name a few -- freedom is on the minds of millions of people.

I wonder how we imagine and actualize our sense of freedom?

What events cause you to pause?
(Photo credit: Honoring U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick;
Brendan Smialowski, via Getty Images)

In another example, watching the public hearings of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capital, I have been struck by the relationships between image and reality, resistance and assimilation, information and ignorance, independence and interdependence, respect and freedom.  That is, in real life we are being asked several questions:

  • Are we willing to listen to dissenting views or are we limited by our group's ideology?
  • Can we seek out new information or do we not want to pay attention?
  • Do we understand our freedoms in relationship to others in our society or are we focused only on how freedom pertains to me?

Difficult conversations require that we show up differently:  that we meet privately, respect the other person, and request/receive permission to speak freely.  It is when we move off the stage of public opinion and competing ideologies that we can speak freely... and listen freely... to another perspective, experience, belief, and point of reference.

May we learn to celebrate our freedoms... by allowing others their freedoms.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)