Nothing Will Ever Be Good Enough, Part I: The Core

Continued from Prologue.

The “Send ‘Burque to the Bay” reading was sandwiched between daylong sessions at the Ventana Institute’s pilot workshop, “First Being Then Doing,” at the Academy for the Love of Learning in Santa Fe. The purpose of the Institute is to build the capacity of organizations to “learn, evolve and transform.”

I must confess that I had no idea what the workshop was about when I walked into the room and took my place in the circle. I had worked closely with visual artist and Academy faculty member Chrissie Orr on El Otro Lado, the art and storytelling program she developed as a way for individuals and communities to engage the creative process in addressing issues of migration and sense of place. When Chrissie and Ventana Manager Patrick Anderson invited me, I said yes because they are good people doing good work and because I needed and wanted an opportunity to be a learner, a student, rather than a teacher.

“First Being Then Doing” went deep. Saturday, as I said goodbye to the group in order to make the reading on time, facilitator James Bampfield said, “Be careful driving home. This work puts you in an altered state.”

I reached that altered state by, among other activities, falling backward from a table top into the waiting arms of eight other participants. They stood in two facing lines, four abreast, each person with crossed forearms, holding the wrists of the person directly across from her.

As a workshop facilitator, teacher and trainer, I have guided writers, artists, students, AmericCorps volunteers, board members, and all sorts of other folks through a battery of trust-building exercises. As a student council member all through high school, a member of the Catholic Student Association in college, and a Jesuit Volunteer immediately after college, I did trust walks in which one person led another, who was blindfolded, along an unfamiliar path. After a few minutes, the partners switched places. When it was all done, we wrote in our journals and talked in a circle about what it was like having to rely on someone else. I have done silent retreats, made a group mobile with two sheets of construction paper, three sticks and a ball of string, and played Barnga to learn that different cultures play by different rules. But the one thing I had always managed to avoid was the trust fall.

My leap off the table was no ordinary trust fall, the kind used in team building to help people who might have different styles and beliefs work well together. Of course, I had to trust that the people standing behind me would catch me. But what mattered more was the thing I was leaving on the table. This fall was all about release, all about letting go of a core belief that stops me from being my most authentic self.

My core belief?

Nothing will ever be good enough.

Next week: Nothing Will Ever Be Good Enough, Part II: The Fall

Published in: on April 12, 2011 at 9:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

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