Saturday, October 29, 2022

Our Challenge: Looking for Good

Do you think that we are wired to find fault in others or to be critical of situations where we are not in control?  Maybe it’s just our human nature to constantly improve our environment:  we need to see what is wrong in order to fix or improve.  What do you think?  It does seem that our world is hypersensitive or overcritical right now.  I wonder why?

Recently, I came across a quote attributed to Joan Chittister:

“Hope is not a matter of waiting for things outside of us to get better.  It is about getting better inside about what is going on outside.”

This shift from outward judgment to inward reflection might be important as we move forward in our lives together.

What is your outward and inward focus?
(Photo credit:  Tiny Buddha)

Maybe it’s a matter of both reflecting backward and hoping forward that allows us to get beyond the barriers that limit us from moving beyond our self-constraints.  It’s like being in a moving vehicle:  looking forward, towards the destination… while at the same time looking in the rear view mirror, seeing where we have been… and what we may have missed.

Using another illustration or image: the waves behind a ship mark the disturbance created when the ship moves forward.  I find it interesting that this disturbance is called a “wake!

Looking back at the wake, what did you miss?
(Photo:  Looking Beyond Barriers - Larry Gardepie)

As we move forward, it is important that we awaken ourselves to the disturbances created in our relationships.  Noticing any disruption, upheaval, and violence allows us to wonder what happened and how we might move forward in a better way.

Once we notice the “wake” we have created, we have a choice on how best to maneuver forward.

Can you see beauty beyond the darkness?
(Photo: Sunset at Sea - Larry Gardepie)

We have an issue or obstacle, though: moving away from our hypersensitive and critical natures. Similar to the Pay It Forward movement a few years ago, maybe we can encourage one another with a Looking for Good” Challenge.   That is, how might we:

  • Discover the goodness in others rather than their faults?
  • Highlight the positive instead of the negative?
  • Expect and celebrate successes over failures?

Maybe our challenge is to catch people in sacred moments of Grace and Goodness: the disturbances of the past propel us towards ways to understand and anticipate holiness and wholeness.  Isn’t it time to want, ask, and expect more in our time together on this planet?

What do you think:

  • Is it possible to look for goodness? 
  • Will you join me during November, our Thanksgiving month, to accept this challenge… to look for goodness in yourself and others?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Saturday, October 22, 2022

Carving Out Beauty

Alaska is amazing!  Its grandeur, rugged beauty, and the dynamic nature of our world in transition.  All of these add to the wonder and awe of its sights, sounds and smells.  It challenges how we exist: learning to adapt; staying in relationship; accepting what is.

Marveling at Marjerie Glacier in Glacier National Park, we learned that the ice calving (breaking away into icebergs and ice flows) today originated as snowflakes on Mt. Fairweather thousands of feet in elevation and hundreds of years ago.  The river of ice has been moving and shaping the valleys below for millennia, reaching down to the inlets that greet and accept the ice and water it delivers.

A cycle of life that originated as snowflakes; merged into compressed ice; moved, shaped, and carved out lands that became fertile homes for birds, animals, and humans; then returned to the life-giving waters that feed our oceans.  And the cycle continues with the snowflakes of today!

Can there be movement in icy relationships?
(Photo: Marjerie Glacier, Glacier National Park
- Larry Gardepie)

Up until recently, I appreciated ice cubes for keeping my beverage cold or salving a burn, and I enjoyed snow for its beauty and winter activities.  I hadn't considered movement and creation as part of an icy, cold world.

I wonder what movement might happen when relationships go cold or we close off friends and family because of the cold shoulder, icy stares, or frigid behavior?

When must we stand above the normal flow of life?
(Photo Denali, Alaska - Larry Gardepie)

We are sometimes called beyond the normal or daily movement of our lives to risk breaking away or falling into a moment when ice meets water, and we melt and merge into the larger gifts of creating wonder and beauty.  Like snowflakes that have compressed over time into seemingly immovable ice, maybe our transgressions and hurts have become rigid over time and need to be released into something new and beyond the natures of snow and ice.  Maybe we are called to flow with grace and wonder!

How might we peak through what hides our beauty?
(Photo:  Gastineau Channel near Juneau, Alaska
- Larry Gardepie)

Some moments in life seem unclear and unapproachable.  But, even in the darkest moments, don’t we yearn for an ending and hope for a new beginning?  Don’t we seek to be seen and understood?  Don’t we want to peak beyond the shroud that hides Us from Them... to see and experience We?

Through forgiveness and reconciliation we can begin to see beyond the veils that separate.  Through dialogue and understanding we can realize there are many ways to live.  Through carving out the rock that roots us in one place we can learn to see beauty in creating a place for all of us to live.

Blessings and peace to you this week as life moves us to a moment when we accept one another’s beauty!  May we stand in awe at the Grandeur and Sacredness within each person!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)



Saturday, October 15, 2022

In This Together

Some days I want to be with people, and other days I enjoy my Alone Time.  I assume that we all feel this kind of human tension:  we are individuals... but... we are also social beings.  It's that daily struggle of wanting to be independent... but... realizing how much of our world requires us to be interdependent.  In fact, our survival sometimes rests on accepting this duality of human existence:  we are unique... but...  we have so much in common.

I liken it to a rubber band that needs to stretch in order to be used or useful... but... in its natural state, it returns to a relaxed state of being.

How often do you feel connected or disconnected?
(Photo: Clarion Alley Mural Project,
San Francisco - Larry Gardepie)

Is it as simple as some personality assessment tools describe: we tend towards being Extroverted or Introverted -- that is, we gain and move toward energy which supports our external or internal interactions?

I think it may have more to do with the conversion or transformation that takes place in us as we move from:

  • Childhood - being dependent on our parents and family; through
  • Adulthood - becoming independent by focusing on our own resources and what we contribute, to a state of
  • Wisdom and Maturity - understanding that our journey is like a Nurse's Log - as we grow older and decay we provide nourishment to others - we become interdependent.

The whole life cycle is important!  No one stage is better than the other... but... it is the awareness that we are here for others that connects each of these stages.  We are in this together whether we like it or not!

How do you nurture others?
(Photo:  Nurse Log, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park,
British Columbia, Canada - Larry Gardepie)

The elasticity of our lives is dependent on gathering, connecting, structuring, and changing.  As Monday Morning Quarterbacks, we can sit back and posture about how our team could have performed better the day before.  Criticism or cynicism may feed some of this reflective process... but... what is important is what we learned and how we improved our ways of thinking:  that is, what could we have done differently?

So too are our thoughts and opinions about our elected officials or government structures.  The elasticity of thought allows us to criticize... but... I would suggest, only if we are willing to engage in fruitful dialogue that improves the state of individual and societal needs.  Listening, understanding, accepting, and changing become the ways that we can nourish and nurture future possibilities.

What do you think of our political leaders: them or us?
(Photo:  San Francisco City Hall - Larry Gardepie)

As we go through this midterm election cycle, it may be prudent for us to reflect on whether our contributions are focused more on individual (self-interests and a specific political party) or social good (what is needed to move beyond).  This is not a sports game where the winning or losing statistics are forgotten in a few months. If we are in this together, the long-term game plan must include everyone.

May we consider that we are in this together.  May we look toward our common humanity and our daily tensions of stretching and relaxing.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)



Saturday, October 8, 2022

Clouds and Water: This Too Shall Pass

Have you  ever noticed how beautiful and varied clouds are: bright and fluffy; wispy and misty; dark and menacing?  Clouds and our atmosphere seem to share or reflect our moods!

As children, we would look for shapes of animals or people that we recognized.  Time passed... and we paid less attention: the shapes changed; our experiences diversified; and we focused on other interests.

What do you see in today's clouds?
(Photo:  Sunset at Sea - Larry Gardepie)

Now, years later, we look at clouds and weather much differently:  harbingers of a storm on the horizon; forecasts of what tomorrow will bring; tools to plan trips and outings.  Rather than seeing what the clouds are revealing to us in the moment, we are attempting to adjust our schedules or events around good or bad weather patterns.  We have placed values or made judgements and decisions on how we read the situation.

Moving from clouds to water, I wonder about the nurturing cycle of droplets that amass in clouds and rivers... that passage of time when thoughts are condensed and held suspended or rained down and gathered in movement and change.

Do you hold onto the past or worry about the future?
(Photo:  Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland - Larry Gardepie)

I have learned that the passing of time is conveyed by both.  "Get your head out of the clouds" or "Much water has passed under that bridge," my friends would tell me, as I would reflect on, relive or try to understand something that happened in the past.

As I grow older and return to cloud-watching, I notice a calmness as I slip back into the present:

  • The beauty of our world;
  • The mystery of other people; and,
  • The awe of life and the diversity of ideas and ways of being
When did you last look at the world or
a person in wonder and awe?
(Photo:  Sunrise at Sea - Larry Gardepie)

Maybe we can take a portion of each day and recapture the wonder of childhood... by staying in the present... seeking wisps of Ideas Shared... and pausing for a movement into Presence Changed.  Rather than live in rivers of energy that move us through anxiety rapids or emotions flooded and out of control, maybe we can see life for what it is... beautiful creations of imagination, wonder, and change.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Saturday, October 1, 2022

Disturb: To Stop Or Hinder

Disturbing is my word of the day!  Reading or watching the news... listening to people as they describe their COVID experiences... wondering about our future together...Disturbing!

In addition, I have been watching the Ken Burn's documentary, The U.S. and the Holocaust.  Watching and listening to the world of the 1930s and 1940s and comparing to the language and actions of today... Disturbing!

Do you expect or want others to agree with you?
~~ Click on image to enlarge ~~
(Photo credit:  Blondie, Dean Young and John Marshall,
February 6, 2021)

It seem that our human intellect can rationalize and protect almost anything... even harm to others.  One redeeming quality that we possess is Choice, that ability to watch, listen and choose another course of action.

I wonder what it will take, though, to motivate us to change our current choices?  If wars, climate change and pandemics can't awaken us to other possibilities, what can?  When will we shift our attention from the events and devices that entertain and distract us from what is Real?

How often do you give undivided attention to others?
~~ Click on image to enlarge ~~
(Photo credit:  Zits, Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman,
November 1, 2020)

As I listen and watch -- even when I interact with others -- I am trying to practice an exercise of asking myself questions:

  • Was that an assumption or opinion?
  • Is that conclusion closing off dialogue and possibilities?
  • Did I just hear facts and data about that person or event? 

Listening more carefully and learning to analyze the information I am absorbing, has helped me to see how many decisions are based on assumptions, opinions, and expectations.  When I slow down and peel away the information and its source, I see reactions and unfounded or untethered messages biased by competing perspectives.

When do you feel empathy for others?
(Photo:  La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain,
Larry Gardepie, 2019)

It is disturbing to realize how much of my life has been on autopilot or reactionary.  Reflecting on these thoughts, I remembered a situation in third grade.  Our teacher, Mrs. Ruby Woodward, was the first Black teacher in our school.  I noticed her skin color, true -- but I loved her look on life and her enthusiasm.  I hadn't absorbed the lessons of discrimination or differences at that point in my life.  One day, as I was opening our classroom door outward, the door hit her young son, Timmy, in the face.  His glasses broke and his forehead began bleeding from the cut he received.
I was disturbed that I had hurt someone, especially my favorite teacher's son. After taking her son to the nurse, Mrs. Woodward took me aside and consoled me: explaining how accidents happen; I wasn't to blame; I wouldn't be punished.  What I experienced was kindness, compassion... and that her son had red blood just like mine when I was hurt.
In that moment the seeds of empathy were planted, and the knowledge that we can choose to understand, to have compassion, and to be kind.  We can make these choices every day... if we distinguish data and facts from assumptions, opinions, and false conclusions.
Through dialogue this week may we stop or hinder disturbing trends and move towards choices of kindness, empathy, and compassion.  May we distinguish what is real as we accept our common humanity.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)