firing off


If your house were on fire what would you grab?  This was the question posed by Anna Quindlen in a Newsweek article last December.  (Yes, I’m just reading it now.  I also have each Real Simple issue from January through March that I haven’t touched yet.  I have time issues.)  But the point of the article (or at least what I took to be the point) was that today’s consumerism is going bankrupt along with our economy.  And perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.  If we can realize that stuff is not the answer, then more stuff will not solve the problem.  If we have less material possessions maybe the ones we do have will have some meaning.

I think I’ve always done a pretty decent job of keeping the clutter down to a minimum.  And what clutter there is, is because I value it.  A year of thinking hard about every purchase really drives that home.  I’m already thinking how I will live next year.  What restrictions will my family live under after we complete our Compact year?  I have told you before, I am a design geek and a little OCD about the matter.  Some of the things I find myself needing should be part of a matched set for which I already own a portion.  (example: I have four matching glass canisters for flour, etc.  Now I need more canisters because I am cooking so much at home.)  But how can I keep everything matching if I’m limited in where I can get my goods?  Does it really matter?  I’m sorry to say, yes, it does.  At least to me.  So I may do without until I can purchase the items that fit the aesthetic so I maintain a sense of balance.  But to me that is meaning.

If we can work at limiting our possessions to those that have true meaning then figuring out what to grab from that fire might be a major decision.  But at least it will be a question of value and perhaps not price or status.  We all have purchases of limited value yet great convenience (think about that daily microwave usage), but do we confuse convenience with necessity?

I think it’s pretty much impossible for most people to answer what one thing they would grab, but if I could put four or five items in a laundry basket what would they be?

1) external hard-drive which houses over 4000 pictures taken in the last three years – including our wedding and every stage in Toddler L’s short life so far.
2) clay model of a building I made in high school – because even when I deny it, it reminds me that I am an artist.
3) the jewelry box that was made for my grandmother, and if I’m lucky all the pieces I have inherited are safely stored inside as this is a tangible connection with the women in my family.

I was really going for a list of five but I just couldn’t get there.  Either I’m tired, I can’t recall everything I own at any given point (very likely since I’m tired and pregnant), or I have realized there is very little that can’t, with some effort or money, be replaced.  What’s on your list?

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2 Comments to “firing off”

  1. I’d grab my cat. But by the time I got her out from under the bed, there would be no time to get anything else. There are so many things in my house that have sentimental value, and a few that have monetized value as well. But I don’t think there’s anything I couldn’t live without.

  2. emmajames, I’m sure the cat is grateful for your devotion!

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