March, April, May, June ….. the months I haven’t posted. Not that many miles either. And those I have ridden have been easy ones, mainly off road. And often the same route, the same places. But they are good places, beautiful places. And they have done me a lot of good.
July, August, September …. the months since I started to write this post. Less miles in the countryside, too. Much less. I have failed to spend time in places that are so good for me. Yes, I may be a creature of habit when it comes to the routes I ride, but no riding in these places is no good at all.
But there is one place I have been pretty regularly over these quiet months that has been good for me. That is room 41 – the place – that seats 12 – where I do some of my most effective work as a Peer Worker. It’s in this room that I deliver Recovery College courses on Building Resilience, Self Esteem and Mindfulness.
In many ways it is a finite place. It is the same every time. The same tables, the same chairs. The same whiteboard and flip chart. We – my colleague and I – use the same materials to deliver the courses. Readers in east and west sussex can find out more about a wide range of courses here: https://www.sussexrecoverycollege.org.uk/
We have the same conversations at the beginning of the first session about Group Ground Rules – what I prefer to call ‘What Can We Expect From Each Other?’ We have the same conversation about what confidentiality means. We introduce ourselves.
And then the work begins.
And the same room takes on a different character, a different dimension. And I’m pedalling hard leading the peleton at times, then letting the others take the head wind.
That’s when I’m I’ve been on my bike this past 6 months. In that room, sharing ‘trade secrets’ about how to be better. Since I last wrote we have hired one paid member of the staff and another 6 trained volunteer peer mentors from the students in these classes. When we discuss confidentiality the conversation goes like this: I ask what suggestions the group has. People will call out ‘confidentiality’. I ask: ‘What do we mean by ‘confidentiality’?’ The response every time is. ‘what is said in the room stays in the room.’ To which I respond, ‘No. Please quote us in full. There are 168 hours in every week. We are together in this room for less than 3 hours per week. What we talk about in this room should be on wheels. Take it outside here into your lives.’
And so I try to take what goes on in room 41 with me everywhere I go. But for now it feels like that door is jammed shut.
It is my room, and yet one room is locked.
The dark has taken root on all four walls.
It is a room where knots stare out from the wood,
A room that turns it back on the whole house.
At night I hear the crickets list their griefs
And let an ancient peace come into me.
Sleep intercepts my prayer, and in the dark
The house turns slowly round its one closed room.
Kevin Hart (1954 – )