Monday, October 25, 2010

Notes from Camp Empathy: 'Fiction in the space between'

I'm all out of whack, as if that's not a normal state, right?

Suffice to say, it's been a weird, weird, WEIRD few days. Some people might grow old gracefully, but I'm apparently horrible at it. In fact, at the end of every assignment or task in which I was completing, there was a question that asked, "Is there any product or service that could have made this experience better?"

Do guns count? Just kidding, of course that would be too easy. The goal is for seniors to have more options than ever before, so that their quality of life can be maintained if not sustained in later years.

Without going into much detail, blurred vision, compromised hearing, mobility issues, incontinence, isolation and loneliness, guilt, fear, fatigue, dependency, and many other emotions can be felt more so in a person's 'twilight' than their 'prime'. And, save for the incontinence (no, I didn't have to "use" the diaper), I experienced all of those emotions in the past few days.

Re: Empathy. It has many definitions, but I liked this one the best, by Carl Rogers, lifted from Wikipedia.

Carl Rogers: To perceive the internal frame of reference of another with accuracy and with the emotional components and meanings which pertain thereto as if one were the person, but without ever losing the "as if" condition. Thus, it means to sense the hurt or the pleasure of another as he senses it and to perceive the causes thereof as he perceives them, but without ever losing the recognition that it is as if I were hurt or pleased and so forth.[16]

In a word or two, Camp Empathy happened this past weekend and I'm attempting to recover from it, as ifthat will ever be possible. Old age is one of those things a person doesn't want to or should have to think about until they're in the midst of it, but there are some tools that can help to put one's feet into the shoes of another person, so both parties will emerge from the experience better than they would have otherwise.

And now I have to write The Pipeline. I am so exhausted from Camp Empathy and hope readers will forgive me if the e-newsletter is not up to its usuals standards of depth and breadth. I'm also thinking about the concept of "As If" and wondering if the definition of a storyteller is someone who is living as if, almost always?

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