My mother has a small black dufflebag packed with medication, photos, and nicknacks. She keeps it behind the sofa in the living room in case the house catches fire or an earthquake strikes and she has to flee. My stepfather doesn’t have a bag. He said if he had to run out quickly, he’d grab the three fat cats, Lulu, Snider, and Inky, by the neck and that would be that.
They live in Southern California where fires and earthquakes have threatened their house several times over the years. The danger factor here in New York City based on immediate experiences would be terrorist attack and flooding.
I know what I’d grab. My laptop and backup hard drive. The books, photos, art, plants, guitar…I’d feel sadness. They’d be abandoned, destroyed. Would I risk my life for them? Hell no. I shouldn’t even be anthropomorphizing them as “them.” They’re more accurately “those things.”
Even my laptop, if it came down to the laptop or a limb, stands no chance. 90% of what I’ve saved on my laptop is pretty much junk anyhow and I’m certain I’d be able to produce more of that in a heartbeat and without a device.
Fortunately, I’m not in a constant state of duress and at the moment, not dealing with an imminent crisis or natural disaster. You’re probably not either. But we still ought to strive to live more simply, shouldn’t we?
I’m by nature not an acquirer of “things.” I don’t like clutter. My sister calls me a Neatnik. I rent a small space, live by myself, and have no children or pets. If I could, I’d be traveling the world. Put all of those things together, have a debate about nature versus nurture, and you’d come up with a set of reasonable arguments for why I wouldn’t have difficulty leaving behind material possession.
Graham Hill says it best: “We live in a world of surfeit stuff, of big-box stores and 24-hour online shopping opportunities. Members of every socioeconomic bracket can and do deluge themselves with products. There isn’t any indication that any of these things makes anyone any happier; in fact it seems the reverse may be true.” Read his New York Times article, Living With Less. A Lot Less.
You’ll gain a lot.