First Update – Friday 26th August

I’ve been thinking (Dangerous Pastime) about how this is going to work. Firstly – I want to write about what I’m experiencing by staying “awake”, but I’m not some Spiritual Warrior, not by any stretch of the imagination and this blog isn’t some hippy fest. I just want to be open and honest about what I’m experiencing as the day unfolds and how I try to to keep myself grounded in the present moment without time travelling into some future scenario. NYC is one thing, very different to my normal day to day life so that will give me an opportunity to focus. But my working days are a different story. Firstly, I work as an Outreach/Support Worker. The Clients I support all have Multiple and Complex Needs and anything directly relating to the individual I can’t mention in the blog, it’s confidential. However it’s Ok to say that in my line of my work I attend Soup Kitchens to catch up with those I’m supporting, as well as Psychiatric hospitals from time to time, amongst many other tasks. Today was a day just like that. I can’t even begin to imagine what the client is experiencing but I can relate how it was for me.
I always look forward to the Soup Kitchen on a Friday. It has a great atmosphere, most are regulars and the conversations are in full flow by the time I arrive. I have work to do and certain individuals that I need to check on but I love to sit back when I get a moment and just enjoy watching them all. It has a sense of community and everybody knows each other. Sometimes there’s the occasional incident (Alcohol always has its part to play in that), but most of the time it’s all just good Criac. As for the food.. The volunteers in there do an awesome job. It’s a 3 course meal and though funds are tight for everybody they always knock up a very decent scran. I enjoy eating there. There was a time not so long ago that eating with the disadvantaged, marginalised almost forgotten members of our society wouldn’t be an experience that would present itself to me and that wouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest back then. There is a lot of hungry people, very close to the poverty line. I’m grateful to be around them but grateful I’m not in their situation. They are not big on complaining either. I get an impression that at least for that short period while their needs are met (food and company) they are satisfied and I sense acceptance, both amongst them and within me. Anyways it was homemade soup, pie and mash & pudding and custard.
After doing a few other work related bits and bobs I was off to Hopewood Park (previously known as Cherry Knowles) to visit a client who would be homeless on discharge, see if I can get him a place to live before he leaves the hospital. I know this guy well, and been around somebody who is mentally quite poorly I feel a strong empathy as I know it can happen to absolutely anybody as I’ve suffered to hang on to my sanity more than once, and at times it’s been a very close call.
My colleague Ray drove me to Ryhope. On route the both of us were silent, just enjoying the drive, no radio or talking BS just for the sake of it. Taking in the scenery – its amazing how Sunderland always looks like somewhere else when the Sun is out, very chilled.
I submitted my WCMT Report yesterday and that was an awesome feeling, it was an amazing journey, and the report was a huge amount of work, so to finally hand it in felt mint, gave me a real sense of calm. Today Changing Lives tweeted that it would be ready to download soon and that made me feel a sense of accomplishment.
After work I stopped off at Cafe Nero in the market square and sat outside having coffee, a man tied his dog to the lamppost and asked me if I would keep an eye on it while he went to the shop, so I did. As a bit time past It started to pine for him and I started to think I hope he comes back I don’t fancy taking it home. Sure enough he came back and I settled into the chair feeling the Sun and enjoying the peace. Another of my colleagues Craig turned up and we sat there people watching and talking about the day we’ve had. We always have a laugh and I don’t think you can be anymore “Awake” (Right in the moment) than when your sitting with a good friend belly laughing – perfect way to start the weekend.
I took the Metro to Newcastle to meet up with “Mutual Friends”. I like to read on the train it chills me right out and I download books to my Kindle App on my phone. I’ve been busy reading Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, I’m onto book 4 of 6 it’s been a brilliant read so far, that man can write!
Listening whilst a “friend” speaks of their life and how things are better Today because they took a few simple steps gives me the opportunity to be really “Awake”, present in the here and now. Listening is a skill that takes time to develop, I was over 40 years old before that was explained to me, and it needed explaining. I had never heard a thing anybody ever said unless there was something in it for me.
On the way back, walking through the cobbled alleyway alongside the Percy Arms I can smell the stale ale and hear the drunks shouting & balling, singing and enjoying themselves. Good luck to them. I’m always amazed how that Mental Obsession to go in and be amongst it, that desire to lock myself away with a bath full of drink and get wasted,  hasn’t overtook my thinking today, just for today.
Got home and chilled with an ice cold coke and a smoke, lights down low, windows open, I can hear the Seagulls squawking and Sirens going. It’s been a good day,the Sun has been shining its great to be alive, it’s incredible to be “Awake”. Its something else that I haven’t needed to take a drink Today, Just for Today. One day at a time.

Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the Present. Live every moment.

John

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