I can’t remember how I came across this one but I love it. Being a self confessed hoarder I sometimes wonder why I hold onto nonsense. It just creates clutter and dust. but I just can’t bring myself to chuck the stuff out. Well, this weekend we’re having an almost everything must go yard sale, and between now and Sunday, I need to throw out the rubbish or give away the things we don’t need – or someone else could. I’ve already bought 40 black refuse bags.
Which brings me to The Burning House. The blogger asks:
If your house was burning, what would you take with you? It’s a conflict between what’s practical, valuable and sentimental. What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities. Think of it as an interview condensed into one question.
And features submitted posts following that format. Oh – and you have to include a pic. How sweet are these ones… Cameras seem to be a popular choice…
And then this sobering one from David Ding…
Name: David Ding
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Occupation: Postgraduate Student
Without trying to sound like an obnoxiously idealistic hippie, I don’t think I’d take anything. Or at least not anything specific – I might just grab whatever is closest to me at the time.
Next month, I will move house for the sixth time in five years. With each and every move, I become more and more detached from and unconcerned with my physical possessions. They inevitably become just extra weight to lug around.
Notably, my first move was to the other side of the planet. When I made the move, the airline(s) with which I flew allowed me to check only 20kg of luggage and carry on another 10kg. I packed what I could …and that was that – I choose not to send over any additional belongings of mine, nor have any sent over at a later stage. Managing to survive quite easily and comfortably for a sustained period of time, it was readily apparent that nothing I’d left behind was in any way essential to my life. Subsequent moves only compounded this line of thought.
As such, when I returned to my childhood home after being away for three-and-a-half-years (Move #4), I donated or dumped just about everything that had remained in my absence. I had clearly not needed these things.
This has continued to inform the way I feel about the physical objects I possess: most practical things I own can be very easily replaced. I do not own (and tend to avoid purchasing) any items of significant monetary value – certainly nothing worth delaying an escape from a burning house scenario for.
As for sentimental things, well I cheat a little. Of course, I’m as prone to sentimentality and nostalgia as anyone. Had I been asked this question 15 or 20 years ago, I might have had a substantial list of things I couldn’t bear to part with. But technology now allows me to cater to these feelings I might have, without having to hoard stuff. These days, everything can be photographed or scanned or digitized in some other way – and then stored online securely (you can store hundreds of different copies in hundreds of different locations, if you want to be extra cautious).
All my old tokens and letters and photos could go up in flames, but their memories (and my memories of them) would be preserved forever (for all intents and purposes: it is unlikely that the entire online world is going to suddenly disappear – and any situation in which it does is probably going to be a lot more catastrophic than any house fire).
Indeed, if anyone who has submitted a Burning House picture did end up losing one of their cherished, irreplaceable belongings in a fire, they might hopefully be able to take some comfort in knowing that an exact image of that object would remain intact, in perpetuity.