As with every workshop I facilitate at the homeless shelter, there is a period of waiting. About 30 minutes before the attendees are scheduled to arrive, there is opportune time for the habitual vortex of insecure thoughts to begin swirling around in
Will anyone show up? Who will show up? What will they be like to work with? Will I be able to handle wherever the conversation goes? Will I run out of things to ask or say? And hey, if no one shows up, I can go home, and that
would be really great since I won't have to deal with any of the current craziness in my head. But then what would be the point of me even trying to do this at all?
Why on earth am I doing this? Hmmmm.
In all my years
of facilitating training, this is not entirely new. I have always felt some level of nervousness before each class, and for the most part, I've learned to ignore it. I know that as soon as the class gets started, I'm fine. And even if there are challenges,
I will get through it. After more than 2000 classes, I've pretty well figured out how this scenario goes. And in fact the more challenging classes have always in retrospect, been the most rewarding. You'd think by now that the nervousness would stop?
For the homeless shelter workshops (based on the Three Principles), there's some extra special swirls that have been added to my vortex of thinking. I've made up the story that it is especially challenging to communicate this understanding of innate wellbeing
and illusory reality. It would clearly be much easier to explain some intellectual version of 5 key steps and 7 best practices, instead of the spiritual perspective of the experience of life. I've made up the story that I don't have an "effective
enough" ability to help people see it. Trying to explain the unexplainable, seems to have hijacked any clear articulation I may have once had, to be replaced by some level of "incoherent blithering idiot". And in my head, I feel like I'm saying the same thing
over and over again. And I wonder what meagre level of love and space and connection I am actually bringing into each moment, versus my own often-compelling, up-in-my-head thinking?
Why on earth am I doing this?
Having had insight into this understanding, I know that "why" is not a question that needs to be answered. I know that any insecure thinking is not pointing to any truth except the fact that my thinking is off. I know that it doesn't matter how I do or
what impact I make. Any need for validation is just more sign of derailed thinking.
I also know that despite all the internal craziness, I am compelled to keep trying. I can no longer see any other option. My former bag of tricks for content
and delivery no longer makes any sense.
And what is also true, is that a great deal of humanity suffers needlessly, and the attendees at each workshop are no exception. They are not only dealing with the challenges and complexities of homelessness,
but they are often marginalized for their plight, as if their condition says something about their character and their worthiness as human beings. They're labelled as lazy, stupid, dangerous, and taking advantage of the taxes paid by righteous hard working
citizens, who unbeknownst even to themselves, are the innocent victims of the power of their own insecure thinking.
So today's session brought two gentlemen who were examples of how easy it could be to marginalize, when we don't
know their story... One was a bit quiet and initially reluctant to speak. The other was happy to talk, but challenged with focusing his thinking, and trying to get out words that would effectively explain his situation. Both of them had lost children, lost
other family members, lost relationships, lost their homes, lost employment, lost health, and now spend many of their days surrounded by a community of others dealing with their own incredibly challenging circumstances and conditions. One of the gentlemen,
of the same age as me at 53, was just this morning told he was stupid and unemployable. And yet here they both were, still managing to find the resources to get through another day.
Every time I hear these stories, I am reminded of the
folly in my ridiculous insecure thinking. At the same time, I am reminded that I am no different than they are, subject to the whims of my 24/7 stream of incredibly convincing thought and consciousness, whatever it happens to be.
the end of the 2-hour workshop, there seemed to be some beginning in their understanding, some human connection made, and some reluctance for them to leave, as they continued to share their stories and perspectives while I cleared the whiteboard,
and packed up my supplies. And today, as frequently happens when I head out the door, I couldn't help but realize how easy it can be to fall into a perfect storm of challenging circumstances, innocently believed insecure thinking, and limited support
and compassion from a society that is just as innocently caught up in their own particular fearful thinking.
I am very grateful for every clear-headed and fortunate moment when I realize that "but for the grace of God