Thursday, October 25, 2007

It is not what we have that matters, but who.

My wife and I were watching the California Inferno on TV last night and speculated as to what we would do if our own home caught fire and we had but a few seconds or minutes to get out. Of all the junk we have accumulated over the years, what would we try to preserve?

My wife would rescue photographs and videos of the family, especially of our son growing up over the years. I would add to that whatever few photographs I have of my parents and relatives, taken in Europe or in our early days in Canada in the 1950's.

Anything else? Everything else can be replaced. Even my precious guitars, our many hundreds of books and various pieces of art suddenly wouldn't be so important. There is nothing for which I would risk life and limb.

Interestingly, neither one of us mentioned our two cats, but I suspect that every reasonable attempt would be made to get them out alive. Stupido and Retardo (that's what I call them, they're actually named Simpson and Mabel) are part of the family, sort of. I don't think we have the obsessive attachment to our pets that I see (and deride in others) sometimes, but I would still miss the critters. I know my son would be devastated if anything happened to either cat.

Otherwise, who cares? We spend lifetimes accumulating junk, much of it of no real value or purpose, then discover that it is not what we have that matters, but who. Is the family safe? The cats? OK, screw the rest.

I don't ever want my theories here put to the test; after all, who wants to suffer through the upset that results from having everything you own go up in smoke. I feel for the folks in California who are losing so much in the fires, especially when one of the fires appears to have been set by an arsonist. Who would do such a thing?

Are your families still intact, my Californian friends? Is everyone safe? Nothing else really matters.


  1. I have pondered this one myself many times in the past and with our disastrous recent moving experience.

    I have read some accounts of the strange priorities we undertake when faced with that decisive moment. With some, it is hand-written recipes, with others, as you say, it is family history. In this day and age of computers, it has been suggested that we scan, copy and digitize our family heirlooms and send out copies to all family members. In case of a total loss, at least we can recoup our history if others have a copy of it. I wish our own family had been that generous with their default inheritance. Their initial selfishness might lead to their own eventual loss as a result, not just ours.

  2. That's a great idea, Lin, to digitize and distribute. Putting a bunch of scans on a CD would be a great preservation tool!

  3. We had a tornado hit our neighborhood (made the cover of National Geographic -- a big one!) and we weren't there at the time. I worried about our dog and our photos. That's all.