Monday, 23 November 2015

For The Sake Of Alfredo

In 1981 in an Italian village a little boy called Alfredo Rampi fell into an artesian well.  it was the first day and i began to cry.......and cry.......and cry. 

For three days the attempted rescue was broadcast live around the world.  a parallel shaft was constructed as the well  was too narrow and deep to reach him directly.   a walkie talkie was lowered and he could be heard calling for his mother sobbing and whimpering, his voice growing weaker by the hour.   every tactic used to reach him sent him sliding deeper into the cold mud.    on the third day a tiny, experienced caver managed to touch his hand, it was lifeless and the rescue was abandoned.  

I woke at dawn on that last morning and knew deep inside that he had was over......i had cried for three days.

Throughout that time i was gripped by grief, it was as though i had become one with the villagers keeping vigil, inhabited the broken heart of his mother, strived alongside the putative rescuers, watched with the eyes of the world and, horrifically, was in that well, thirsty, alone in the dark, scrabbling in the mud, crying for my mother.......i WAS Alfredo.

This wasn't the first such experience nor was it the last, but it was the most powerful and i had no idea what it was all about.   

Much later, during a time of counselling, a personality test indicated the traits of an intuitive empath.   first i'd heard of it, hadn't asked for it and most definitely didn't want it.

empathy:  the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also :  the capacity for.
"Intuitive empath"........sounds noble doesn't it?   a touch of the Mother Teresa's perhaps?   blue always suited me.   but, sadly, not noble nor high minded, simply a quirk of brain function.   where some can see patterns in reams of random numbers or memorise the contents of entire books, occasionally my brain takes sympathy to the next level and it becomes an intense emotional identification with the other person.

As with all personality qualities it's both a curse and a blessing, a strength and a weakness, a joy and a sadness.   but what infuriates others most is that often it leads to holding two totally contradictory opinions at the same time as the head and the heart fail to converge.  at those times it's as though day is night and night is day, i would fight for black being white, wrong being right.  don't confuses me too.
Feeling  the emotions of others doesn't come with an 'off' switch or the ability to change the channel, nor is it a moral imperative dictated by society's norms of acceptable behaviour.   Whilst sharing the fear and trauma of the mugged and rationally knowing all the blame lies with the mugger, i find it's also possible to equally empathise with the young, homeless youth facing the horror and panic of being lost in our brutal and brutalising prison system as punishment for the crime.  sometimes it's hard to differentiate between the victim and the victimised in empath land.   perhaps there's an element of both within every human transaction but we chose not to see it for fear of having our certainties shattered.

Sometimes too, it can seem as though i'm being wilfully provocative by supporting the demonised, but whereas the devil's advocate is merely stirring the pot to create discourse or discontent i find i can perceive innocence in the guilty and culpability in the assumed virtuous, but frustratingly lack the words to express this, thus putting myself in the line of fire of those who are blessedly free of such ambiguities. time i speak up for the bad guy, suggest forgiveness in place of vengeance, seek to reconcile rather than revile, understand instead of judge, please know i'm not simply being difficult, it just might be that a little glimpse of another's pain has inched it's way into my soul and painted the universe a different colour......the colour of the intuitive empath world.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Yippeee For Blogs Mr. James

Do you think it's inevitable that intolerance and judgementalism accompany older age?   i'd like to think not,  but...........

I imagine we all have a vision of our future selves as adorable little granny/granddad figures radiating sweetness and light, distributing humbugs to children and wisdom to the "young'ns", sought out by our adult children in need of philosophical guidance or insight,  but.........  

........since writing the post "Grammatically Limited" i've read several articles and letters in the press commenting on the inability of the young to use the English language correctly, often written by the elder generation of our species.   

Clive James in a piece for the Guardian is particularly dismissive of those, like myself, who failed to learn the basics of grammar and have never managed to catch up.   now, i have great respect for Mr James's writing.......or should that be James' ?......and have enjoyed reading him for many years, but isn't it a mite arrogant for a man of such erudition to assume that a lack of commas, hyphens and apostrophes on the part of the messenger negates the message?   have a read of the link below and let me know what you think?

Often the blame is dumped at the feet of modern teaching methods or lack of discipline in the home or the classroom.   having endured 60's schooling where minimal carrot and maximum stick......caned hands.....slapped legs.....thrown blackboard cleaners bulls-eyeing between  the eyes.....military style barracking.....were the norm, i can't say i was taught  much except   fear.
                Definition of BARRACK
                  chiefly British:   to shout at derisively or sarcastically 

It's hard to learn when mentally cowering in a dark corner of your mind, metaphorical eyes tight shut, imaginary hands over ears, frantically trying to transform into the smallest  creature nature ever created.
Sure, there have to be rules around the written word or we would veer off in so many directions we would eventually be unable to communicate with each other, but language is fluid, it evolves with each generation, would we be able to follow a conversation spoken in the manner of Mr. Shakespeare? doubtful.   increasingly employers are seeking those with conversational foreign language skills rather than that typically taught at exam level.....the lingo as spoken by the locals. a dynamic, idiosyncratic, personal speech form.   

Finding the balance will always be a matter for debate, disagreement, but perhaps we needn't worry too much about English's bastardisation since there's very little "anglo" left.  we are a mongrel nation after all, the offspring of countless invasions and social discord.   do you really think us mere mortals realise the varied foreign roots of the words that we assume are ours?

I wonder how many imaginations have been squelched, silenced for the sake of punctuation, how many valid voices with insights deserving an airing have been dismissed for using "there" rather than "their". I say.....Hurrah for Whatsapp and social media, yippeee for blogs and Twitter, word up for rappers and hip hoppers, preach on brothers and sisters of the interwebs, make your message heard and if your elders don't like the way you write it........well that's their sad that they might miss something rather precious.