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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Some Navel Gazing Observations after a Day of Emergency Disaster Services Training



1 – I never sleep well the first night in a hotel.  I miss my family.  So I didn’t sleep well last night. Didn’t sleep at all last night in fact.  It was somewhere around 4 this morning that I finally was able to settle in the land of Nod. 

But I tried to use the time – and not merely waste it watching goofy monster movies on Netflix.  Instead I read a couple more chapters from The Transgender Studies Reader and another chapter from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.  I also wrote a 400 words short story that I’m going to hang on to for a bit before I decide whether or not to post it here on the blog.

2- I am an Introvert by nature.  If I have to attend meetings, I’d rather sit in the back of the room and not participate – except when it’s a topic in which I’m interested.  The other folks in our sessions today did not believe me when I told them that I am very much an introverted person.  I’m not shy.  Especially, it seems, when you get me talking about serving in response to tragedies and disasters. 

This surprised me a little bit. Why was I participating so much?  I don't do that... But I think I realized something about myself today – I enjoy disaster work.  Enjoy? What a terrible word. Who enjoys seeing the devastation and despair that follows in the wake of natural and manmade disasters?   Only psychopaths.  I don’t enjoy that.  I –apparently – enjoy being able to serve people in that time. 

I am not an adrenaline junkie, or an ambulance chaser. But I have found, in many experiences, a measure of fulfillment in coming alongside those who are suffering.

3 – My wife sometimes jokes that I am Spock – I’m not.  I have nowhere near that level of emotional control.  I’m just a bit more Stoic than she is.  But when I haven’t slept well, and when I’ve sat through 9 hours of training in a single day, my emotions start to sit pretty close to the surface.  Some of the things I’ve seen during disaster deployments have been pretty horrible.  I’ve sat with families who’ve lost children.  I’ve seen towns leveled by uncontrollable natural forces.  At several points today I felt my eyes getting a little moist and my throat felt a little tight. All those things – years and years in the past – continue to affect who I am today. 


Another several hours of training material tomorrow, but I anticipate that I’ll be better rested.  I look forward to them.  

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