In early April, a natural disaster hit my region in Northern NSW, Australia. In my district alone, seven lives were lost, thousands of properties were flooded, and hundreds of people were displaced temporarily, or permanently. For almost all of us, it was the worst disaster we had experienced or witnessed and we hope never to see its like again. I knew many people who were affected terribly.
The flood was the after-effect of a devastating cyclone. It was an epic event. The water came through the valley faster and higher and to places never before reached. In the days that followed an incredible public spirit emerged with people going out and lending a hand where needed. So many people were in need, it was difficult to decide where to put your energy. Start anywhere. Like many, I helped out at a few places picking through muddy remains of a lifetime of possessions to salvage a few precious items, folding donated sheets, cleaning. I was concerned about not working and its impact on my own business in the coming weeks.
but it was impossible to sit in my studio and focus on income when just a five-minute walk away, homes and business were uninhabitable and lives torn apart. There was a clear priority.
Later, people, myself included, needed to talk (a lot). Every time you saw someone for the first time, it took half an hour to share stories. Then we needed to retreat. Then talk again. The flood was enormous to people here.
It barely registered to people outside, even to friends.
It was an event you had to witness to comprehend. I mentioned it in some emails to colleagues and associates to explain my preoccupation away from normal work. Because the flood was a big event in our lives here, I forgot how easy it can be to gloss over words, even words like, ‘we’ve had a massive flood’ or ‘the worst natural disaster I’ve ever witnessed.’
I know I have done the same to others.
People skip through emails or copy to see what’s relevant to them. Do you read with care?
The flood also made me see clearly matters I had been using energy on needlessly.
I don’t know what the answer is, perhaps an image is needed for social currency. But in that situation, you don’t want a ‘wow’ but simply to be seen and for help to be given where needed. It is still needed.