Such a cheerful topic, no?
I do have regular wobbles about getting rid of our stuff. Even though it’s more than we need, even though we spent money on it, even though it’s not in use. The money part is what gets me, look at all the cash we’ve wasted goes through my head every single time we drop off donations or something expensive sells for 99p on eBay.
Every now and then I use a thought exercise to refocus. Quite simply: What would you save in a fire?
Assuming my family and pets had already left the building, what would I grab?
I don’t need to grab photo albums, all our photos are digital and backed up to the cloud. Same for music, DVD’s, paperwork.
I might grab the ‘important’ documents folder which has our birth certificates and marriage license, but they can be reordered online so not at the top of my list.
I’d be quite upset to lose my wedding dress. I’ll never wear it again, true. But it was so unusual I’ve never seen anything like it since and I do have a fleeting notion that Tabi could wear it one day as a prom dress.
I’d like to save the clay handprint impressions hanging on the wall beside my bed as they can’t be replaced.
My mum’s ashes are in my wardrobe because we’re still too shellshocked to think about scattering them.
I don’t have any rare books. I do have a 1st edition copy of the Silmarrilion which was a gift for Tabi.
All of my clothes and furniture can be easily rebought (yay, insurance).
I’d grab the emerald birthstone necklace I was given by my parents for my 18th birthday, the earrings they gave me for my 30th and the arrow necklace my friends clubbed together to buy me for my 30th. A bracelet my gran bought me at Tiffany’s one Christmas she went to New York. Another 30th gift was a bracelet from my husband. I still have my mum’s earrings that I borrowed for my wedding and never returned. A necklace belonging to my great gran. Those pieces and my wedding ring are the only pieces of jewellery I own. They’re all ‘real’ jewellery, not costume stuff you’d buy in Topshop and all have sentimental value.
So that’s it? Some jewellery, clay impressions and my wedding dress (which FYI, since it wasn’t a ‘real’ wedding dress, only cost about £400). Out of all my possessions, 10 items?
I do realise the glaringly obvious issues within that thought experiment
1.) I’m only grabbing the irreplaceable, knowing that insurance will replace everything else. That doesn’t mean I don’t genuinely need other things (like my bed).
2.) I have the privilege of having insurance in the first place, living somewhere where there’s no shortage of replacement clothes and furniture.
3.) I don’t think you can consider a ‘imagine you’ve lost everything’ thought experiment without acknowledging there are approximately 20 million refugees at the moment who have been forced to do just that.
It’s still a decent experiment to try out. It’ll help with attachment, thinking about what physical possessions you really care about.