June 14th 2006

copyright© don oddy

~ Soho Clubbing, Ronnie Scotts Night Club ~

And Soho Home for the Bewildered

I used to go to Ronnie Scotts, Night club now and then over the years. Have a look and then come back if you like by hitting the back button in your browser. Always a great night at Ronnie Scotts, the scene of reckless abandonment for me and friends, over new year parites and any reason to party. Ronnie Scotts is under reconstruction right now just like me. I don't go there anymore.

Its nearly two years now, my weekly visits to Soho. It was sometimes twice a week and most often once a week. A very regular pattern to another home from home, my centre of excellence. Home from home is not how some might describe a centre for treating obsession, my obsession to be free of obsession itself. Its hot and humid and clouds are gathering as I set off from Chelsea over to Soho, on the Piccadilly Line. I was going on the District, but as usual a signal fault so no walk from Embankment up to Soho via Charing Cross, just the hot n sweaty Picadilly. Good job, the heat is making everyone wilt. Jackets off for the men and women, my weakest link and my love of living, all glowing in the underground swelter. Women who remain cool when under pressure, I wonder how they do this, a trick we men find so appealing. Well this one does. And its summer and clothing is light and provocative.

I appreciate beauty, my nature and nurture to love the female form, a wonder in every second of connection. As if a light is turned on and I receive every sense of a woman. And in the plural of course, my eyes are swimming and my senses are blown with a breeze of wonder, so many perfumes, none ever the same. Crowded and not close, the forever game of the Underground and watching people. It is a rapture, as every shape, form and element of humanity is represented, our conscious sub conscious glances and registers inside, for me say how much I appreciate living art so captured in a moments reverie. I am glad my mind is full of appreciation and with my own sense of integrity which respects unsaid boundaries and connections I will never know, I appreciate women and their attraction. And as time has matured my outlook, it is the being I perceive as if their spirit glows from inside out and tells me how their character fares this day. From ice cold, to mad with passion, expression and their story unfolds in movement most only some perceive in subconscious awe, never putting the allure to words or memory as I might try. A part of me to read what waits behind the mask of anonymity and in gone by days where confidence of youth displayed advances lost to time. These days my mind absorbs, integrity and respect adorns my conscious speculations and rests in my imagination, for I have no intent beyond appreciation of what I perceive. Wisdom learned from experience of me and wondrous times. Women always led the dance and courtship for me, but now, is not in my repertoire to respond today and their beauty deep inside is held in awe by me. My weakness and my strength of spirit holds resolute to my morality, a sigh to carefree times where desire wrestled with good conscience, I know which triumphs nowadays.

I’m early as I get close to my destination for our group of happy sobriety, and a coffee on the corner at Café Nero helps me settle and reflect. This my next but last time now, with friends who steer a path of living well and appreciating life as life is, reality is our kick, where we have compulsion kicked. Just for today and one day only, at a time.

Another member of my group who died just over a month ago, their memory is still so fresh, I sit alone in our meeting room and stare where they sat and told us how well they felt, and I knew with a tinge of sadness, maybe they were not so well. They were tempted by whatever stirred those memories inside we have to take another drink. Just one does it and they found it was the first and last this time. The empty chair, the memory, the laughter in those eyes, and behind that mask of rightness I could see that memory was burning still with angry passions deep. No one wants abandonment and anger will pull us close to danger when we least expect and trip our resolute intent and kill sobriety.

And in that danger now defeated, they gave up I feel, their inside will, too long and hard to keep on willing life to change back where we win, and our will, will keep us safe. The answer now is clear to me, the answer is acceptance of whatever is reality. Just today as always, and with support and with clear mind keep our open truth, to live right now in present mode and leave the past where it is, the present moment to address, the future yet to worry our thoughts. It surely is the way for us and will always keep us safe.

And in our group we share our truth as honestly as we feel we can, the challenge is not to be dug out, but share as we see fit. Some of us can be direct and most of us like me reflect the better times we have. But I share how hard some things have become and how I get the living day done. Its not so easy sharing truth when truth to most might look quite grim. I am surprised these days by me, for what makes me tick and keeps me clean is nothing like I used to be. As if from decades lost to toil and driven mad with all the world, I find there is serenity in this one day and completing it well, without the slightest thought of drink, I keep my living as well can be when nothing blocks reality.

Another friend leaves today we take our phone numbers and say farewell, knowing each of us knows, our path is firmly set. Both of us have gone through hell, madness and worse as we have shared. And strangely as we speak with care, never stories to embellish our truth what hell was really like, just gentle with our day today.

In our group hardly ever spoken as often drinkers do, of madness, parties and the like, where bravery was made through drink and courage was fixed in us, our courage true in reality today. Its not the case of good times lost, love and fun we had and laughter too, its just we find in clearer mind the love and fun is more profound. And so is our sadness…

I guess when we get to live full measure of reality, we are hit with every element direct and accept the day as good or bad, as mood dictates from senses used to full effect these days. And with some of us who never knew our ailments inside were there long before the drink ever made them more acute. We learn to live with deficits in mind, where the deepest lows hold us fast to misery we cannot break with will. Only time lets us go from their grip and time is all it takes. As long as we keep clear in mind is just today we make our goal and let go the torment of oblivion which waits if we try to medicate and find compulsion takes its hold.

And as we talk, we touched on treatments chemical, where enhancement of our chemistry is used. And we have learned with time and experience, they only work when we are clear of any other influence. They say to us who need the help, its only weeks till we may find our mood can lift to ordinary. We who have travelled those harshest days for months on end know well, it takes forever as months go by, before we find that ordinary day.

And in our ordinary mood, we feel the rightness of our outlook. We feel the ordinary way we may have felt, without the deficit, or we feel no fear and no crushing atmosphere which compels us to oblivion. These chemicals which make us up, and some we never had, somehow we are restored to balance, they never make us happy. All they do is offer the chance to experience in an ordinary way what others feel as usual for most people and is quite new for us who never felt this ordinary life.

There are many forces in recovery which help us make some sense. The chemical balance somehow works, yet we know it comes and goes. For even with their help to ordinary outlooks, that crushing well pulls us in, and we use our day to day living plan and keep ourselves from harms way. Like my friend who leaves our group, we know we shall be seeing each other, hopefully forever more. We of course have luck as well as help through fellowship and common purpose unlike anything we knew before. And this fellowship, our motley crew so different, you would never anticipate who is in our fellowship and how we all exist inside a fellowship as diverse as mankind and as similar as peas in a pod.

Of course we part in farewell we take our details just in case we need an ear when know too well, that crushing time will come again and darkness wraps around our wellbeing to suffocate our aim of living just today. Whoever dreamed or was inspired to start a fellowship, where there is only one criteria for membership, they had a gift given from who knows where. A fellowship which offers anything, and all we need to join is a simple desire to stop drinking booze, or anything that holds us from living just one day for real and out of any harms way.

What makes it work is fellowship and simple way to live with ordinary outlooks and acceptance of anything that comes our way. No pink cloud, no secrets in our fellowship of living. We face the music, we face the pain, and we face reality. No wonder I keep going back and keep my fellowship alive. For nothing beats reality, not even on those darkest days most recently, when depression pushed me to the edge of reason and feelings were pure torment. I kept my fellowship, and kept on going to our meetings, and kept to safe and careful living, one day, just that one, even the longest day from hell was made acceptable, by keeping far away from fixing and oblivion.

Some like me might wish there were a way and will to make my chemistry as good as ordinary, and years and years of different ways have never made the impact as I have found today. A balance in the chemistry has helped me find my therapy, the therapy fellowship. And all those years of grief gone by, I don’t regret them as I let go, so much madness and times long gone. For in those years and experience are times where wisdom formed in me, and memory and intellect sit well with feelings I appreciate, feelings of joy or sadness come first as thoughts make sense of mind and where it is today.

It is the gift of ordinary to be restored to living in reality. And as some might think this madness here is beyond imagination, maybe just pick your saddest moment ever in your life, and reflect what that feels like. Then when mood is recalled and that day lived again in your minds eye, it feels that way every day for months and years in my case and oblivion is the only respite I could self inflict to dull a never ending pain. Or in my madness and depressive state admission of this ailment was as terrifying as its reality and keeping it secret.

So when I talked of ordinary, its not a high or low fixed inside. Its merely finding my right way to feel as I experience today. Not lightening bolts, no thunderclaps result from ordinary living. It is beyond my wildest dreams just to experience ordinary days, with ups and down like all good people live.

Fragile times as this new venture is still a novelty, restoration and repair I find requires frequent fellowship. It is connection to our fellows and our fellowship which helps us know how we are and if we need support. From tea and biscuit and much, much more, we get that opportunity. We understand full well, where we can be and what we experience inside. All we do is share our stories of how we make our living work these days, and what we can do to keep ourselves as able as we can today. For we need to be our ordinary selves to work as best we can, if ever you will let us in and share the good of living.

Like every group of people we find, we are from every walk of life. Some believe in all manner of things, of God, and of more outlandish things.. Most of us are happy with a conscience and a clarity of outlook…

And the good news most of all we agree, we get our good conscience back or get our way to see what it means even to have a conscience and code of living well. There is no easy route, there is no trick to making good a life. It only lasts a day, for in a second it can go to hell and consequences are the same. We are human beyond all doubt and forgiveness might be our only way, to get over the madness we have lived and especially if we have a slip. And it never means we are forgiven by those we have hurt along the way, those consequences are accepted as part of all we do today. We might live on and our conduct will be the measure as always, never forgotten a day at a time. We learn what it is to be ordinary and human, some for the first time, others restored, most with gratitude and humility of mind.

Our serenity comes in accepting what we cannot change, having courage to change what we can, and learning the wisdom to know the difference. And we appeal to our own good conscience, our collective good conscience and for believers to God. Whatever makes us work, works, we may be worth it, just for today.

Copyright © Don Oddy



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