Halfway into the second day of Circle facilitator training, one of the three ladies who were there involuntarily finally said “What is this thing we are doing?” They were sent there by their boss. They’d never been through the Circle process. They had no idea what it was all about, and they were sent to learn how to do it.
Learning how to do it when you already have been through it is still crazy-making. It is hard enough for me and I’ve been in a lot of Circle experiences. I feel like I’ve just been given my driver’s license and now I’m expected to take a vanload of kids to Memphis to see Graceland. I don’t have a map. I don’t have a van. I don’t even know where to get gas. But I’ve taken a class, and I have a certificate – so off we go, right?
No, not really. But it is a start. Just like with driving, you really can’t learn how to do it until you do it. And then you do it some more. And you’ll probably get into an accident on the way. You might have a fender bender. You might run over a curb. You might hit a squirrel.
Hopefully nobody gets taken to the hospital – and that includes you.
But part of the Circle process is trusting it, and staying with it. Part of it is not rescuing other people either. Part of that was, for me, not explaining it to them in their frustration and confusion. They had to figure it out for themselves.
We kept coming back to a Guideline – “Trust the Process”. How can you trust something you don’t understand?
The process is about listening and speaking, and being real. It is an entirely different way to communicate – not only with other people, but with yourself.
It is really hard.
I felt I couldn’t tell them what was going on. I remember what it was like for me for my first Circle. It wasn’t called that. It was a Dialogue in Diversity class, and the topic was religion. Turns out, the topic was just an excuse. The topic was something to get us to learn how to listen to each other. We were there to learn dialogue versus debate. We were there to speak our truths, and listen to others speak their truths, and be OK with the fact that those truths didn’t match up. It wasn’t about consensus. It was about listening, really listening.
Maybe three classes in, I wanted out. I was so overwhelmed with the changes going on inside me. They hadn’t prepared me for this shift in my consciousness. They hadn’t told me it was going to happen at all. It was a big unspoken thing, and I thought I was losing my mind.
Maybe I was. Maybe I needed to lose my mind.
If I tell you how to do the Circle process then I’m shortchanging you on the Circle process. I’m making it easier for you to shortchange yourself by telling you how to do the Circle process.
It is like I’m unwrapping a present for you. In fact I’m keeping you from the present. I’m keeping you from discovering for yourself that just being present is the present.
That feeling uncomfortable and still staying with it is the whole process. That not knowing and being angry and confused is part of it too. It is a shift, an evolution.
The caterpillar doesn’t know when he is going to become a butterfly. It is a painful thing. And when he emerges, different, sticky, cramped, how does he learn how to fly, when all he has ever done is crawl? How does he know?
How do we know when it happens to us?
The fact that you don’t know what is going on when you are in Circle is part of it. It can’t be taught in a book and it can’t be explained. I can just let you do Circle with me and then the next thing we know you have that moment when you go “Oh, this is what we are doing. Now I get it”.
And then you don’t get it again, because you are still holding on to that chrysalis, and your wings are still wet, and your legs are wobbly and you have knees for God’s sake, what am I doing with knees –
And that is part of it too.