Lucia has something to say

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Living in the Material World

I keep this photo on my desk. It’s from the book Material World: A Global Family Portrait. The book has portraits of “average” families from 30 countries. The photos are taken outside their homes with everything they own.

This is the Yadav family in India. The six of them live in the 344 square foot home behind them. They have a bed. Pots and pans. A bicycle. The father said his most valuable possession is that framed print of a Hindu god he’s holding. They don’t have savings. In bad times, they go without food.

My house is small, at least by American standards. It’s about 850 square feet. Like most North Americans, we have a lot of stuff. A lot.

Out of all this stuff, I’m not sure what I would identify as my most valuable possessions. Do you? If you had to identify three of your most valuable possessions, say the three non-living things you would grab if your house was on fire, what would they be?


Blogger Gordo said...

Wow, what a great question, Lucia!

1. My box of photo negatives. It's about twice the size of a milk crate and crammed full of memories.

2. A Cree wall-hanging that I inherited from my Aunt. She brought it home after several years teaching in Moosonee, ON, on the shore of James Bay.

3. A small statue of Buddha that I picked up in Thailand. I'm not entirely certain why. It just speaks to me.

Great googly-moogly, that was hard. I actually walked around looking at stuff trying to decide. What a lot of junk we have.

8:28 PM  
Blogger KC said...

3 things? (I'm assuming my purse doesn't count and I'm wearing my favorite fit-so-perfectly-I-could-cry jeans)

My laptop. Jolie's favorite bear. Everything else would be a distant third.

What about you?

8:32 PM  
Blogger QT said...

Having been divorced and losing most of that "stuff", this wasn't as hard as it could have been.

I would take a box of negatives, photos & files. It all fits in one box. Then probably my computer & purse. I am not that attached to anything else non-living in my home right now.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Girlplustwo said...

ah. i have a rose quartz given to me years ago after finishing something very difficult.

a scrapbook we've made for M.

and a baby carrier from borneo.

that might be the three.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Heather Plett said...

That book really grabbed me too. I would HATE to see what my front lawn would look like covered in all my stuff.

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember talking to a man whose house had burned down, and he told me that it wasn't all bad, that in some ways it was like a new beginning. He was obviously trying to put a positive spin on a terrible thing, but he did have a point.

I lost all my stuff a few years ago, and never really began accumulating again. I can fit everything into the trunk of my car, and I just have a hunch that may be useful someday.

I think the only thing I'd really miss if it was gone is my little laptop- because if was gone, then access to my online friends would go with it. I guess my other two items would be my japa beads and my Wayfarer sunglasses.

6:02 AM  
Blogger karmic said...

Helps put things in perspective doesn't it?
I would probably grab the photos and the computer.

7:26 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Lucia, what a coincidence! I have the CD-ROM for this! It's amazing to see how 'relative' happiness is. I remember one family from India who considered themselves happy because they had a few more pots than their neighbors. And in Texas, a family had so much stuff it couldn't fint on their huge front lawn and spilled into the street. They were unhappy because they had one less TV than their neighbor. Jeez.

We once saw a family in Egypt living in a hole in the ground, with cardboard on top. And the smiled and waved to us as we walked past. Amazing.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going to have to think hard about this one and get back to you. =) good question and concept!

9:51 AM  
Blogger pei wei said...

I'd say, passport, mum's pic and credit card - sorry, pretty practical. On another note, love the idea of beading too!

10:44 AM  
Blogger thailandchani said...

I live pretty simply and luckily don't have much stuff.

Most of the things I value most are jewelry items that I have on all the time anyway. My amulets ~ those are essential.I wear several of them. A locket I wear all the time that holds a packet of Thai soil. Anything else I have can be replaced, even the laptop.

If I had a chance though, I'd grab all of my journals. There are years worth in the bookshelf.



11:24 AM  
Blogger Mona Buonanotte said...

Disks of photos. Firebox with important papers. My purse.

As long as my family was okay, I could live without any or all of those.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Lynnea said...

You've had me thinking long and hard about this. I actually couldn't come up with three. The only thing I could think of that would make me pause in a fire after my family were safe was photos. Our link to our past and story. IF I had time after that I might try to grab my boxes of baby memorabelia for my children.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Susan as Herself said...

I often think about this very question, and the items I'd grab change with the times. When my cat was alive I'd have grabbed him first, then my shoulder bag.

I might also try to grab the lockbox I have filled with important docs that are a pain to replace. And if I had time, I'd take the letter my mother wrote me when she was dying. My father gave it to me after her death and I keep it hidden away. I should probably put that in the lockbox too.

And, if there was more than 30 seconds, I would try to grab some jewelry. Not that any of it is priceless, but much of it is sentimental and I would be heartbroken to lose it.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well, there's the silver necklace that I never, ever take off, but I wouldn't exactly have to grab that would I?


1) my laptop

2)the portable hard drive that has all our pictures of Ireland and the boyos, and all our music files

3) A bamboo spoon I've had for fourteen years. It has made Thanksgiving feasts, batches of snickerdoodles, soup on the coldest days, new recipes and family heirloom recipes. I've used it, my dad's used it, my mom and my husband have used it. I cannot cook without that spoon.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Tink said...

Awesome question!

My three things would be:

1. My box of journals. I have some from the third grade!
2. My copy of "The Horse Goddess" by Morgan Llywelyn. I've read it six times since fifth grade. The pages are practically falling out of the binding. But just the sight of it gives me a profound sense of peace.
3. The painting Hoop got me for Christmas. It's probably the nicest gift I've ever gotten.

What would yours be?

3:54 PM  
Blogger OhTheJoys said...

That book is amazing and that is one of my favorite photos from it.

I try to keep pumping bags and bags of stuff out of the house and off to goodwill, but the d*mned STUFF just keeps finding it's way back in!

8:56 PM  
Blogger meno said...

We all need to look at that picture every day.

I have trouble coming up with three thing, since the people and the cats are out of the house.

Um. my laptop. then my wallet, ah....(the cats are safe right?) I just don't know, it's all stuff.

12:47 AM  
Blogger St. Dickeybird said...

Amazing post! Makes me appreciate what we have in North America.

1. My favourite guitar (telecaster).
2. My wallet (need ID and Visa).
3. My cigarettes (addict).

6:37 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

well lets see I would grab....
1. My Bible.
2. My box of pictures.
3. My book bag so that I can still do my school work.

how bout those....

1:06 AM  
Blogger r said...

I've been thinking about this since I read it the other day.

1) ring box with all the rings my mother has handed down/given me over the years.
2) flash drive with all my photos on it.
3) My journals

And none of that would matter at all if Charlie the Wonder Dog wasn't saved first.

2:08 AM  

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