Here in the UK, over the last couple of weeks, the nation has been watching and waiting after the dam wall at Toddbrook Reservoir in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, was damaged during heavy rain. Around 1500 local residents were evacuated from their homes, following fears that the dam would burst resulting in a loss of life.
During the period in which the emergency services worked tirelessly to repair the dam in order to lower water levels as quickly as possible, residents were given just 15 minutes to re-enter their homes and retrieve their most important possessions.
What would you take with you, if you only had a quarter of an hour in which to do it?
My most important possessions
I thought about what I’d take if I only had a few minutes in which to grab my most precious possessions.
Having ‘let go’ of so much stuff in the past few years (notably in the last 3), it was fairly easy to work out what I’d retrieve. There were only 3 categories:
- Official certificates and documentation
- Sentimental items
- Photograph albums
I can honestly say there is truly nothing else I couldn’t replace, if the worst came to the worst.
Consider how difficult it would be to replace your passport, driving license, birth certificate, degree certificate or other official documentation. I’d definitely grab my file in which I keep most of those items.
Whilst it’s possible to obtain certified copies, I’ll bet it’s a bit of a nuisance. I suppose it would, at least, be useful to make scanned copies. Note to self!
I have hardly any sentimental items left, since my major decluttering efforts. But I do have a couple of small items of jewellery I’d grab (I love rings – always have).
I’d also be pulling photograph albums off the shelves. Although we have a great many photos stored online, there are some collections from ‘the early days’ for which there are no digital equivalents. I’m glad we do have a digital collection, though. Our ‘Google home’ device plays a lazy ‘slide show’ of photos we’ve taken over the years, evoking memories of places we’ve been and family occasions we’ve enjoyed.
But none of this has meaning when you consider the plight of people who lose their homes; lose their health (or both).
Inspirational stories from those who live with less
I’ve been devouring Raynor Winn’s wonderful book, The Salt Path. Made suddently homeless following a legal case gone wrong, Winn and her husband, Moth, find themselves with no house, no money and no income. Worse, to coincide with the terrifying experience of losing their home and livelihood, Moth is diagnosed with an incurable health condition.
So, with literally nothing to lose, the Winns embark on an extraordinary 630 mile journey, walking the South West Coast Path from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset. Surviving on horribly meagre rations and camping off the beaten track, Winn explores the nature of homelessness (encountering some interesting reactions along the way).
What’s inspiring, is that at no point does Winn bemoan the lack of home comforts. It’s interesting that – when you’re really up against it – the need for ‘stuff’ disappears and what’s important is more fundamental, more truthful and more about people and experiences than anything money could buy.
I’m glad to say the people of Whaley Bridge have now returned to their homes; how glad they must be to be back. I wonder if what is now most important for them might have changed throughout their ordeal? And what would you take if you only had 15 minutes?
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