We awoke this morning to news stories from Minot, ND, where they are facing the worst flooding in recorded history.
It made me wonder, what would I grab, if I had to evacuate suddenly?
My family members, and my pets, obviously. But after that? What stuff am I really attached to?
I thought about this, all day. What would I take?
I would miss my computer, my phone, my passport and purse, most of which are quite replaceable, just a huge pain in the fanny to be without. But as for other household items? What would I really consider to be essential? Old pictures that are still on paper? Maybe. My childhood blankie? Clothes? It would be good to be decent as I made my insurance claim. I have some genealogy materials that would be pretty hard to track down ever again, how about that? Or all those tax-related papers that the CRA would never believe perished in a flood?
Intellectually, at least, there’s really not a lot. I’m not saying there is nothing I would be sad to lose. I’m sure it must be a terrible thing to have to triage your possessions and choose the most worthy. It would be devastating to have everything destroyed, to have to start over. But as far as things that I could not sleep a night without? Not much.
It’s an interesting exercise, figuring out what you value. I think it’s something we should do regularly, just in case.
Of course, it leaves the question of why I have all the stuff I do, if I wouldn’t go to heroic (or even ordinary) efforts to save it from disaster, and for that I have no real answer. Some things I have for convenience – appliances, for example. It’s much easier to cook dinner on a stove than an open fire. Some things simply give me pleasure: my books, the art on my walls. Some I enjoy during leisure time, like the TV. Some things are purely functional – things that would make life miserable without (like those tax papers). But I can think of very few things I have that could not easily be upgraded or replaced with minimal effort.
I think if I was forced to choose, I would grab my purse and wallet, laptop, my phone, the cables and chargers, important identification papers, and some toiletries and clothes. Depending on how much time and space I had, I may go back for things like photographs. But I can’t really think of many things I’d risk my safety for. Possibly a wok, but only because I could not handle another 10 years of Trevor’s grumbling if I let another one get away.
Which is not to say I wouldn’t grieve for the things lost. Convenience, aesthetics, efficiency – they all have value for me. I know there is a lot of stuff I could simply do without, if I had to. But the reason I have them is that I don’t want to do without them.
I’m curious about what others think of this notion of compulsory triage. Of the things you would not want to be without, things that you could fit in your vehicle alongside family and pets, what would you take?