One day I’d like to be a writer, to earn a wage doing something that I love. The main problem with this is that I’m not certain my ability to write is entirely under my control. Since I began blogging, posts have wandered into my head, fully formed and a little bit fuzzy around the edges. Writing them down brings them into focus, but really they create themselves. The idea of relying on this ‘black box’ process in the face of a proper job with deadlines doesn’t fill me with confidence.
I was thinking about this when I couldn’t sleep last night, trying to work out how to discipline the unruly workings of my brain. Yesterday whilst volunteering, I was asked if I’d like to write another post about the homeless shelter. I haven’t written a thing for weeks and got that sinking feeling, I tried to forget about it and enjoy the evening in the shelter. I shouldn’t have worried – going to the shelter never fails to wake my writing brain up.
I think it is probably because of the diversity amongst the many guests and volunteers and everyone’s enthusiasm for having a chat at the end of the day. With such a variety of experiences and backgrounds you always learn something new or get a new perspective on something. It also reminds me how much more time we spend in front of the TV or computer these days instead of talking to each other – and what a shame that is.
I sat talking to a guest about lifestyle choices and the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’. After working all day I would normally say I needed my gadgets to relax. Sat at a table with friends though, I have everything I could possibly want to enjoy an evening, even without battery power. Eventually we started talking about the difference the project had made to guests, I expected them to say that having a meal and a bed to sleep in was most important – but that wasn’t it. Someone said he’d got meetings lined up, to move on from the shelter, he looked thrilled when he told me how many emails he’d got from people and agencies that were able to help him. I hadn’t really thought that not being able to see how to improve the future could be worse than the cold or being hungry. Over the years, watching guests do courses to improve their English or allow them to find work has made me realize that not only is a bed just the beginning but that once you give someone an opportunity to improve things, their eagerness comes back and the whole situation is improved.
I decided to sit the chess match out this time. Having downloaded the game on my phone to practice for a rematch, I’ve become a bit too reliant on the ‘hint’ function to play on a board! I am always pleasantly surprised when guests and volunteers remember me as I don’t help out on a very regular basis. That said I suppose I remember the people I talk to and look for them as soon as I arrive.
The shelter is ending for this year very soon. I have to say I will miss it and my friends, (both volunteers and guests) who have made every shift interesting and an absolute pleasure. I wish everybody all the best for the summer and look forward to seeing new faces during the 2013/14 shelter season.