Saturday, August 27, 2022

Understanding Our Impact

To minimize the impact on Glacier Bay National Park, cruise ships and boats are required to power slowly through these glacial-silted waters.  Also, slowing down reduces the danger of hitting icebergs calved from the nearby glaciers.

Looking back, the wake of our ship makes gentle impressions that blend back the reflected scenes surrounding us.  It is a magical setting: an environment that is rooted in millennia of glacial activity, ever-changing, too majestic to absorb in one viewing.

By slowing down, the ship's noise lessens and we are left with the impact of silence and beauty.

Do you see your impact?
(Photo:  entering Glacier Bay National Park,
Larry Gardepie)

In comparison, when we were making our approach to Juneau a day earlier, we were met with jet skiers racing towards us and seaplanes buzzing over us as they escaped the water's grasp or landed gracefully ahead of us.

Both scenes are set in the grand waterways carved by glaciers and ringed by tall mountain ranges dotted with late summer glaciers still hanging from the peaks.  Creation beckons.

What impression do you make?
(Photo:  Jet Skiers, Juneau, Alaska,
Larry Gardepie)

Even in these settings I am thinking of dialogue and relationship:

  • The importance of slowing down and paying attention;
  • The ability to encounter and acknowledge who and what is seen; and,
  • The impact or impression that our words, expressions, and actions have on others.

Our fast-paced world sometimes requires us to throttle back and pay attention.  But, are we willing?

What mark do you want to make in life?
(Photo, Ocean Sunset, Victoria, British Columbia,
Larry Gardepie)

Toward the end of our journey, we entered the waters surrounding Victoria, British Columbia.  A jet contrail crossed the evening sky, absorbing the brilliance of the sunset.  Though present to the unfolding beauty, my mind drifted back to my grandparent's backyard in the Midwest.  They enjoyed sitting outside when the hot summer day was cooling and watch the jets criss-cross their small plot of land... and each would say:  "I wonder where everyone is going?"
I am discovering that dialogue and relationship is about questions:
  • Where am I -- or you -- going?
  • What am I -- or you -- seeing along the way?
  • How might we carve out time to experience the beauty and majesty of each other?
  • What impact or impression blends back the reflections surrounding us?
I am just wondering:  Where are you going this week as you criss-cross my life?  Do you understand the impact you have on me?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Boundaries and Possibilities

There's something beautiful and expansive about being out on the water... whether on a river, lake or the ocean.  My land-locked views of Southern California buildings, streets, canyons and mesas fall away and I begin to see beyond the limitations of this land-based existence.  The fast-paced freeways that connect cities disappear as a slower-paced rhythm of water travel allows me to consider a different way of Reconnection.

Even the darkest moments at sea -- when pinpoints of lights onshore or the even more expansive reaches of the star-filled skies -- invite a network of possibilities beyond my limited world.

In your darkest moments, do you see connection or separation?
(Photo:  San Francisco Bay Bridge, Larry Gardepie)

I enjoy these periods of Reflection:

  • Who am I in relation to you and this world?
  • Have I contributed to the well-being of people I encounter?
  • What limits or separates me from the possibilities and potential of Life?

And, maybe most importantly in this time of Division and Separation, am I willing to change how I listen to and understand what blocks my relationships with those I disagree?

What barriers limit your potential?
(Photo: wake from ship, Larry Gardepie)

lowing down and reflecting creates the Pause required to see beyond our limitations.  Other possibilities -- which may already exist -- can be seen more clearly when we don't rush past them.  We are able to encounter Choice that expands our horizons.  Barriers fade away, and we are left with more capacity to see beyond.

Is there beauty on your horizon?
(Photo:  Sunset over Sea of Cortez, Larry Gardepie)

Life is beautiful... whether at home with the normalcy of our days or on a brief holiday that expands our experiences.  Being lulled into the doldrums of inactivity and stagnation robs us of who we are Called to Become:  people connected to a common good; people created to look beyond our limitations and explore the horizons and stars; people invited into the possibilities of the universe.
May this week provide time to slow down, reflect, pause, and make a choice towards connection and healing.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, August 13, 2022

What Rules Do You Play By?

I was upset about something our neighbor was doing the other day:  How could he be so inconsiderate?  Doesn't he realize the affect it has on his neighbors?  And what about the damage he is doing to the hedge that separates our properties?  Doesn't he care?

These thoughts and questions were coursing through my mind and causing tension in my body.  Then, another set of questions began to form:  I wonder if he knows how I feel about this issue... or the hedge?

What rules have you learned?
~~ Click on image to enlarge ~~
(Photo credit:  Pearls Before Swine, Stephan Pastis)

As I began to slow down and consider a different line of thinking, I realized that my family made decisions based on our neighbors -- asking them questions, checking to see if this change might upset them.  And, when it came to plants along the property lines, I remember listening to my dad as he talked to the neighbors about what they liked or didn't like.  In fact, part of the discussion included who would be responsible for the plants - watering, fertilizing, pruning and weeding.

My parents' approach might have been influenced by their Midwestern values, or that my father grew up on a farm where neighbors helped one another, or that we had 6 children who could easily disrupt the tranquility of our neighborhood!

Are there rules you disagree with others?
(Photo credit: Algorithm Could Predict Fights Between
Couples Before They Happen, The Telegraph

Through my earlier lived experiences and observations I have accumulated a set of "rules" that make sense to me.  These SCRs (socially constructed realities) may be based on family, neighborhoods, culture, nationalities, and education.  As I stormed on in my mind about my current neighbor, I wondered which of My Rules were being challenged:

  • Were these rules known and common to everyone?
  • Was he aware of how I felt or what I was concerned about?
  • How might we come to understand or agree upon Rules Shared?

What rules do you follow or not follow?
(Photo: Old Town, San Diego, Larry Gardepie)

Ever so slowly I looked beyond the immediate rule-setting and rule-following:  I began to realize that I might be more of a Rule Follower than a Rule Challenger... and I see others through lenses of my expectations and assumptions.
I wonder if that is what is happening in our society these days:
  • Are we willing to listen for the rules, expectations and assumptions projected on others?
  • Can we dialogue about the Learned Rules that separate us and seek out Shared Values that connect us?
  •  How might we remove lenses that obscure what we see so that we might understand more clearly?

May we honor the rules that have shaped and guided us, but may these rules also be challenged and discussed so that we adjust what is relevant and shared today.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Uniquely Normal or Normally Unique

Were you one of those kids who wanted to fit in -- to be accepted by your peers?  I remember periods of being less coordinated as my body grew and I had not mastered who I was becoming.  Standing on the sidelines to be picked on a team was intimidating, especially when I was selected last.

Comparing and judging seems to be universal as humans:  we are hardwired to seek out what is safe, normal, or just like us... and protect ourselves from being hurt or singled out for being unique.

Do you want to be normal or unique?
~~ Click on image to enlarge ~~
(Photo credit:  Pickles, Brian Crane)

By the 6th grade I was befriended by an adult who saw that I had talent as a runner.  Having a relative, friend or work colleague identify and encourage us is life giving:  the ability to believe in our own worth and value cannot be underestimated.  There is freedom that comes from belonging AND standing apart:  it creates that individual spark which illuminates even the darkest of moments.

When are you unique?
(Photo:  San Francisco skyline at night,
Larry Gardepie)

I guess I am reliving these earlier childhood memories of wanting to belong because of the societal drive to "return to normal" after these long pandemic-influenced months.  The pressure to conform and not stand out rises in me, bringing to mind those uncoordinated responses as my mind and body was evolving as a child.

I want to shout, "What about the uniqueness of Who I Am and my decisions to value self and protect others?"

Where can you stand out?
(Photo:  narrow street in Old Town Toledo, Spain)

I wonder, do we ever:

  • Outgrow our childhood methods to select and accept others?
  • Overcome how we think or feel when we are not chosen?
  • Become comfortable with our Unique Self?

As we listen to what others ask of us this week, may we celebrate the times when we are uniquely normal and bless those times when we are called to be normally unique.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)