Imagine for a moment, your home is fully engulfed in the scorching destruction of tumultuous flames. With mere seconds to spare, there's barely time to retrieve a single article of your cherished belongings. In that flash, precisely what might you measure more valuable than all the rest? Would you possibly secure an irreplaceable photo album, a priceless piece of artwork, or maybe you would chose to spare an invaluable family heirloom from impending doom.
Each year as fire season approaches, I find myself contemplating just such a scenario. Walking through the rooms of my home, searching the accumulation of my lifetime, I examine that which I deem so direly important. Would I find myself rushing to retrieve my beloved late mothers' pale gold silk stilettos she wore that illustrious day she wed my father, those tiny jade turtle earrings my dad so lovingly offered me on my twelfth birthday just months before he lost his life to a tragic MVA, or instead would I rush to my great grandfather's violin?
Being faced with this horrendous decision would be a painstaking task indeed. Such a disconcerting thought makes my heart physically ache, yet in all reality these material possessions will one day be left behind regardless.
Ironically, one of my favorite pastimes happens to be exploring estate sales. But until today, I hadn't categorically thought of what would come of my personal effects when my time on earth draws to a close. Who will care so dearly for the charm bracelet adorning the adventures of my life in form of miniature silver trinkets, or for those profoundly treasured love letters affectionately shared between my grandparents amidst wartime separation? How could any other fully comprehend the true beauty in each rehabilitating stroke of the watercolor paintings my grandfather divulged after losing a good portion of his digits?
Attempting to make preparation for possible future emergency evacuations, I found unexpected truth in the process. It isn't that I would be any less an individual without my personal effects, as I hold fast every precious memory, each and every invaluable moment linked to these articles in the depths of my heart. More so, the realization spurred a moment of clarity I had possibly long been in need of.
This that I retain has no true bearing upon my sincere contentment, upon the assurance of my survival, or even the fundamentals of the very human that I am, or might grow to be through my days. These items are purely in my midst to enhance my experience. Moreover, if they aren't in some way doing so, then aren't they basically taking up space? There's something forthrightly liberating in light of this transcendent knowledge. In definitively accepting that we are by no means the summation of our possessions, I find myself less fearful of forfeiture, discovering surprisingly a new found need to purge, to refocus energies more on my future, less upon the past.
This is not to say I don't cherish the bequeathed set of Oneida service, (that has only seen the light of day on annual holidays for fear of wear), it's just that from here out, I simply choose to use them every day, or release them from my holdings. Acknowledging again, it is the valued memories that hold the worth.
Perusing our cedar chests, crowded closets, overfilled rooms, bulging storage units, and overflowing garages with this in mind brings light to the freeing reality that we often cleave to properties shrouded in false confidence. The accumulation cannot, and will not make us better people, keep us closer to those that we have lost, nor bring us joy we so often long for in this often-weighty world in which we reside. We come in along, and too shall we exit, just the same.
So now, as I gaze across the room to the framed photo gracing the nightstand beside my bed, I see not only the brilliant blue of my nephew's sparkling eyes that first mocha date we shared at the coffee shoppe, but more so the echoes of those precious moments shared laughing, the irreplaceable joy that day presented. If for some God-forsaken reason this moment frozen on photo paper was lost, I know that the memory will be forever a part of me regardless.
Though I honestly pray my chattels are safely in my presence the remaining days of my life, if I am not so fortunate, I will assuredly survive, and carry on constructing more memories.