Saturday, September 24, 2022

Beauty and Our Beast

A few weeks ago  we were traveling on the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Denali National Park.  The morning began rainy, cloudy, and cold.  Being in the comfort of the domed car we were fed with Beauty Changing at every mile as clouds gave way to fall foliage and clear views of the Denali mountain range.

We were a diverse group of travelers from around the world, wearing masks or not, carrying unknown companions of COVID-19, colds, coughs, biases and misunderstandings.  Locked in our train carriage for 8 hours allowed us to slowly observe, ask questions, and share in the sights unveiled along the way.

How often do you see the beauty around you?
(Photo:  Alaskan landscape, Larry Gardepie 2022)

Yes, we were in our own world -- that of the train car and that of our own making.  But we were sharing Time and Beauty as we discovered together new Frontiers Revealed.  Sitting with these pictures today, I am seeing details that I missed in those few fleeting moments as the train passed the wilderness outside.

A guide narrated where we were and interpreted what we were seeing.  This helped us track on a map how far we had traveled, how far we still needed to go, and the unusual clarity of this Fall day.

As we pass quickly through this life,
are we aware of the changes in ourselves and others?
(Photo: Denali mountain range with fall foliage,
Larry Gardepie 2022)

The Denali mountain range at first was a mystery: were we seeing clouds behind a darker mountain range?  The guide helped our eyes and minds to understand the majestic heights of Denali as it towered over the smaller peaks and rivers below.  With excitement and awe, she explained that many people never see Denali because of the weather it creates and hides behind; that only 30% will see Denali with clouds; and that we were members of the 10% Club, seeing Denali clearly without clouds.

Along our privileged day-long journey, we moved from not seeing... to seeing partially... and then seeing with clarity.

Do we see clearly what is before us?
(Photo:  Denaili mountain range with no clouds,
Larry Gardepie 2022)

I believe Dialogue is similar: when we slow down our fast-paced lives and allow humility and curiosity to guide us, we begin to seek answers to questions that alluded us.  Together, we share where we are and decide where we need to go:

  • We move from Beasts Unknown that hide and protect us;
  • Through assumptions and opinions that cloud what we see; and,
  • Arrive at clarity based on the facts before us.

In other words, sometimes we need to be locked together in the struggles of this world to appreciate Our Beasts and Our Beauty.

May you see the beauty of each person this week as the World's Beasts and Beauty reveals itself.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Separated No More

My mind is clearer when I am out on the water -- being able to release day-to-day tensions and projects unfinished.  A separation occurs between Past and Future, allowing me to focus on the Present -- what I am seeing now while floating along the waterways.

This theme of separation was on my mind as we left Hubbard Glacier and sailed out of Disenchantment Bay recently.  (What a great name for a bay!)

When do you feel separated from others?
(Photo: leaving Disenchantment Bay, Larry Gardepie)

Seeing the opening between two spurs of land that define the bay brought to mind the separation I sometimes feel between people:  great beauty is reflected by what is present but disenchantment defines the gulf that separates years of disengagement.

It takes an object like a bridge or a vessel to ferry people, product, and ideas across lands disconnected.  It may be similar with our own separations: we need ways to Bridge and Create Connection.

How willing are you to connect?
(Photo:  Juneau street, Larry Gardepie)

Walking along the harbor and streets of Juneau, Alaska, I noticed alleys that were actually named streets with stairs that connected the lowlands to the buildings hundreds of feet higher.  I marveled at the energy and ruggedness of citizens that braved the dark, cold winters... having to climb these stairs to get to the warmth of their homes.

So too, I reflected, are the distances we must travel when separated from others due to misunderstandings:  we must put more time and energy in taking the high road to discovery and attachment

Can you see light even in your darkness?
(Photo: full moon over Inside Passage,
Larry Gardepie)

As I reflected on the Present -- acknowledging the tensions and unfinished nature of life, I began to realize that possibilities and opportunities always exist to bridge or carry ideas beyond the barriers that separate.

Sometimes at our darkest moments, a Light persists that invites reflection and illumination.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Symbols and Meaning

Symbols fascinate me:  the way that letters and objects are infused with meaning and evoke intense emotions or responses from us.  Picture when our national flag passes and people stand out of respect, uncovering heads, and placing hands over hearts.  Or look at the letters that spell out L-O-V-E:  singularly, the letters are a way to communicate words and sentences, but when certain combinations are arranged, memories of hope or hurt rise from our heart to our mind.

Walking down a theater's stairway recently, three symbols attracted my attention:  two were light fixtures in the shape of musical instruments.  The third was off to the left and at the bottom of the stairs:  words of caution to "Watch Your Step."

What symbols are important to you?
(Photo:  theater stairway, ms Eurodam,
Larry Gardepie)

I was thinking of this image when a friend told me of her recent promotion and salary increase.  She expressed mixed feelings about this advancement in her career.  As we explored her thoughts and feelings, we discovered that salary had meaning for her:

  • It was symbolic of her value to the organization.
  • It represented the inequity of women's positions and worth.
  • It subtracted (like the minus sign/symbol in math) from what she contributed.
Being able to sit and listen to her concerns, I was overcome by the gulf that separates our lived experiences.  As a male in this society, I am sometimes unaware of the symbols and meanings that others see and feel.

What symbols unite you with others?
(Photo:  American Bald Eagle, Sitka, Alaska,
Larry Gardepie)

I can learn about symbols and accept or respect others.  I can allow symbols to connect and unite through shared meaning.  I can listen and explain what I am seeing and hearing.  But, unless I am willing to see the world in all of its concrete abstractness, I may be missing what brings you value and worth. 

Even the words that I choose and type in this blog do not inadequately embody my thoughts... and I have no control over what you might see, read, and understand. 

Still, I am fascinated by symbols... because it is amazing how so much of our world is abstract trying to find meaning and to connect.  It takes each of us to explain our thought processes and what is important!

What brings meaning to you and your family?
(Photo:  Alaska totem pole, Ketchikan,
Larry Gardepie)

Looking up at a totem pole in Ketchikan, I was wondering what this Alaskan Native was saying about his family, ancestors, and heritage.  As an outsider, I could marvel at its height and craftsmanship.  I could select certain symbols and assume meaning.  But, until I read the explanation at the base of the pole, I won't really understand the artist's intention.

Dialogue invites us into humility:  Please be patient with me.  I don't understand.  Help me.

What symbols are important to you?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Webs We Weave

Walking along Ketchikan's historic Creek Street, I was paying attention to the many bright colors of the houses and shops around the creek as well as the salmon swimming upstream in their final journey of life.  I was reflecting on this sunny and warm day -- how nice it was to be outside following the torrential downpour the day before in Sitka; how different life is from day to day and moment to moment!

In many ways it's what catches our attention that seems so important:  the sun and warmth; the rain and cold wind; the joy and consolation of family and friends; the frustration and uncertainty when we don't know what to do.

What catches your attention?
(Photo: Creek Street, Ketchikan, Alaska,
Larry Gardepie)

At several points along this reflective walk, I would turn a corner and almost walk into a spider web situated in our path -- gigantic and beautiful constructions with the spiders still busy in their weaving.  My thoughts shifted back home to the health of our hedge, our neighbor's backyard construction project with its noise and disruptions, and work and goals unfinished.  I am so busy weaving meaning and stories that I don't always see the larger scene before me:  Life is Good!

When do you feel trapped or entrapped?
(Photo:  spider web, Creek Street, Larry Gardepie)

I wonder how often I:

  • Feel trapped by a situation?
  • Assume ill intentions of the other person?
  • Entrap myself and others in the webs of exclusion, intolerance, and disinformation?

It seems that sometimes I am so ready to ensnare the other person that I cannot escape my own webs that I weave!

Which web catches you?
(Photo: one of the many webs in the trees along
Creek Street, Larry Gardepie)

I walked around the Creek Street spider webs, letting the industrious spiders continue their day's work with the knowledge that I was free to stay and watch or move on and let go.  At the end of this famous boardwalk street, I noticed the too-early autumn foliage of a tree.  As I approached, I took out my camera to capture the sunshine, tree and leaves as a memory of this beautiful day.  Refocusing the camera, I discovered the tree was full of webs!
We have so many ways to weave our intentions or journey around what entangles us.  The choice is ours:  what meanings we attach... if we want to refocus... and how we want to see our world and one another.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)