Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Responding to the Victorian bushfire crisis

I've developed a crippling headache this morning, one that's fixed on the right side of my forehead above my eye, and it's a piercing pressure inside me.

The numbers keep going up in the bushfire toll - 173 at last count this morning - and I think I may be starting to respond in a physical way to it.

Work is busy, we're doing a lot through our employees and communications, so that's occupying my mind and my time. There's a lot of pressure of course, and we even have people who've lost their homes but still insist on working through it, so I can hardly complain about my little headache in the face of that kind of solidarity.

People respond in so many different ways to tragedies of this kind. Some cry, others hit things, a few lash out, others collapse inwardly.

Me, I get right in the zone. My emotional range narrows to the sharpest of sharp points. I become very cool and detached and unemotional; and focus on executing the task at hand. This channels my emotions into actions instead, which actually energises me and provides me with the bounce and resilience to do what needs doing.

This can be a good thing. In becoming dispassionate and re-directing the energy (and it's not something I actually think about, it just happens naturally) it gives me enough room to do what has to be done and not get teary/angry/upset or otherwise lose the ability to perform. I am, after all, a perfectionist.

However, it can also be a bad thing. In not displaying any emotion, and sometimes actually seeming ruthlessly efficient, others can think me cold, and that I lack compassion or sympathy. The uber-professional comes to the fore.

But of course I'm feeling it, it's just that my conscious mind pushes it deep into my subconscious until I have the right situation and ability to deal with it.

It does mean that I have to make myself consciously aware of my feelings at times like this.

When doing radio interviews, for example, I need to deliberately moderate my voice to reflect the seriousness of the situation. Earlier in the week I recorded a bunch of news grabs for a radio station in Sydney, and about 15 minutes after I'd hung up, I realised I sounded far too cheerful for what I was saying. So I rang them back and re-recorded them all, this time making sure my voice was much more appropriate.

And in writing about the bushfires, I'm conscious that I probably haven't yet come fully to grips with the reality of the situation. It's difficult to express my thoughts without sounding saccharine, or insincere, or melodramatic.

It's been so good to see other members of the blogging community do what I always fail to do in this kind of situation, which is to spring into action on behalf of the victims.

While I'm busy using the mainstream media to give messages to customers and people who want to donate to the Victorian Bushfire Relief Fund (BSB 082 001 Account number 860 046 797), others like Curlypops and Meet Me At Mike's and SillyGilly are rounding up volunteers, holding charity auctions, and doing lots of other useful, helpful things that give us all the opportunity to contribute meaningfully.

This is why we need people with different attributes in our lives- because some get on with the job, some show kindness and compassion, others think of practical ways to help.

Together, we all do something that someone else can't.


Music Ferret said...

I am offering an incentive for people to donate to the bushfire appeal. All donations of $10 or more will receive a complimentary CD. For further details please visit http://www.musicferret.com/

Troischats said...

Thanks for your support MusicFerret - it's great to see everyone contributing in different ways!

CurlyPops said...

Such a great way to look at it. We are all doing very different things, but it's all for the exact same cause....and every little bit helps.