I've lived up here for 14 years. During that time, I've been evacuated and on stand-by to evacuate a few times. When faced with the prospect of losing everything, it's amazing how little material items matter.
Here's my personal list of what to take if everything else is about to go up in smoke:
- Photographs and personal videos.
- Important documents (insurance, passports, financial papers, etc.)
- KIDS (I should point out that these are not listed in any sort of priority.)
- A suitcase of clothing for each of us
- Important books (my own especially...uh hem)
- Any item that holds sentimental value, like a few trinkets from my late grandfather.
- Televisions (Only if they'll fit after all else is packed)
Everything else can burn.
There are certain things in our lives that hold true meaning and value. Most of what I listed--kids, animals, photographs, personal videos, jewelry (most of what I own has been purchased during my travels so holds more of a memory than monetary value)--are all that really matter to me when it comes down to the wire. Material items like furniture, televisions, exercise equipment, china...whatever...is all just a bonus, an illusion of who I am.
People who lost their homes this past week have reacted with grace born of severe loss. All of them have hugged the people they loved, have viewed the devastation and said "we'll rebuild". And they will. What will be rebuilt will not be the same as what was lost, it will be better because it's being built by survivors.
It's easy to get caught up in the rat race of "having more" for the sake of impressing someone else or as proof to ourselves of how far we've come in life. But what I see in my own life...or in the destruction from fire, hurricanes, terrorism, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis or whatever...is that all that matters at the end of the day is love and relationships. As long as we have who and what we love, then we can rebuild...we can face uncertainty...we survive.
What would you take if you had an hour or less to evacuate your home? Think about it.