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 gone......it 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 worry.......it 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.

So.......next 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.




5 comments:

  1. Ah! Now I understand better some of the things you've said, particularly when i want dark grey to be black and off-white to be white, because that would make life 'easier'!! xxx

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  2. Oh yes........much easier, but........not as challenging !! . I am SOOOO glad you are still in the jeni universe

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  3. Feels a bit like in outer orbit because of work but definitely still there xxx

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  4. I think this must be genetically transmissable :/ Not necessarily a bad way to be though. I think understanding a problem is the first step to finding a solution. Whilst punishing the criminal may give short term satisfaction to those who have been wronged, rehabilitation has been shown time and time again to reduce levels of recidivism. We like to label people monsters, but they're not, they're just people, but I suppose nobody wants to believe that the potential for "evil" could be in us all.

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    1. The old saw "there but for the grace of God go I" comes to mind.

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