“Enough” for Evacuees

November 16, 2007 at 3:34 pm 2 comments

I was struck by this headline in the San Diego Union-Tribune the other day: Not Having “Enough of Everything.” The article is about evacuees of the recent wildfires reflecting on what they did and did not bring with them when they fled their homes.

Here are things various evacuees said they wished they had brought:

– More than a day’s worth of clothing, food and essentials

– Family photos

– Blueprints to the home (to have it replicated)

– A beloved book collection (for peace of mind)

When our family fled to Portland, a much chillier climate than San Diego, we realized quickly that we had forgotten one essential: socks! No, we don’t wear many socks here in SoCal. Luckily, those are easy (and not to expensive) to buy.

Still, since we left due to smoke, not really worried about our house burning, we packed nothing but a couple days worth of clothing and food, and threw in our passports at the last minute (you know that California/Oregon border patrol — haha).

If we had really planned to come back to nothing but a shell of our home, what would we have brought? Family photos, of course — that’s the one we all seem to know. And the practicalities (especially financial/insurance records).

But, what less obvious things would it have crushed me to lose?

– My writing (a lifetime of journals, essays, stories, scattered in various places)

– Old yearbooks, letters and cards (memories — and writing fodder for a certain book idea!)

– Quilts made by my recently departed aunt (surrogate grandma) and a necklace she left for my daughter

– Doll bed made by my grandfather for me, that my daughter now plays with

– Japanese heirlooms from my husband’s late grandparents

– My favorite boots, which I’ve had for years

Yes, “enough” really was, and is, my family. But as the crisis passes, I think many San Diegans are looking around our intact homes and also appreciating certain “things” that bring us comfort. Could we live without these things? Yes. But are they things that bring us joy? Yes, too.

Most of my things — minus the boots, perhaps — are still about people. I would still have the memories of those people if the things were lost. But, I like the things, it feels good to see them in my home, and a house wouldn’t quite seem my home without them.

On second thought, my boots, and my writing — those things are actually about a person: me. They make me feel like myself, too, despite whatever else is going on. And that is not unimportant.

As with everything, it is a fine balance. To say things have no value is, for me, not quite true. Still, the things that have value to me are not about monetary value, but more internal — connection, identity, comfort.

That seems to be what other San Diegans — who did lose their homes — are also pondering, and longing for, this week, according to the aforementioned article. The piece also recommends we know the things we would take, in case we need to flee again. Something to think about.

What things would you bring? What things have meaning to you?


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. tobeme  |  November 16, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Great post. As long as I had my loved ones with me, everything else can be replaced. I have gone through letting go of all I had and started all over again. It is a blessing to understand how to detach from things and understand that all we need we always have.

  • 2. Sugar  |  November 16, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    I agree, tobeme… great post. I have to say, though, that whether you’ve gone through starting over or not, completely detaching from stuff is not really possible. I don’t mean the stuff that we buy on impulse at Costco, but rather the items that you mentioned, Megan; things that have a story and connect us to people and who we really are. That’s a great way to decide what to keep around and what to get rid of, I suppose. I would just hate to lose something that brought me joy, no matter how small or “insignificant” it might seem to another.

    Thanks, once again, for sparking the conversation, Megan!


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You are visiting "Having Enough (In a Have-It-All World)"...

Blog Mission

To spark conversation about redefining success (as individuals, families and institutions) and to counter "never enough" messages currently circulating in our culture.

Blog Author

Megan Pincus Kajitani: Writer, Editor, Former Academic Overachiever and Career Counselor, Mom, Wife, Feminist, Gen Xer, Californian who believes that change is possible View Megan Pincus Kajitani's profile on LinkedIn

Books for Having Enough Kids

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