My Burning House

  • My Grandfather’s old French map of the Great Lakes
  • Handmade art from Kenya, given to me by a great friend
  • My favourite scarf, from a trip to Paris
  • A teddy bear made from a Hudson Bay Company seal coat that has been in my family since 1890
  • My childhood stuffed elephant
  • My MacBook, because it contains all my pictures, writing, memories
  • Three spiral-bound journals, my daily diaries starting the first day of my freshman year
  • Vintage French cake stand given to me by two of my best friends and my boyfriend, for my 20th birthday
  • A wooden jewelry box, made by my other Grandfather, and the pearls my Dad gave me for high school graduation (inside the box)
  • My passport
  • My scrapbook
  • My Swiss Army knife, given to me by my Dad for my 16th birthday
  • A bag from my mother’s trip to China
  • (My camera, used to take the picture!)

I was reading Yes and Yes this morning, and I stumbled across a brilliant website called The Burning House. It’s the answer to the question: What would you save from your burning house?; and it’s brilliant. Go have a gander, because everyone featured rescues very different, very personal things from the hypothetical fire, and it’s absolutely fascinating.

I adore this idea, because it really makes you re-evaluate what is truly important, what is really special, and what is honestly worth saving. I was so inspired by the website that I decided to do it myself, with my stuff, my life. But as I roamed my apartment, mentally scanned each item in my ‘inventory’, I realized that even the act of choosing is a very telling one. Fact was: I really wouldn’t save all that much.

All this crap that populates my shelves, my life? Most is utterly replaceable. Sure, I adore my book collection, but I can find copies of everything on my shelf at a local bookstore. My clothes, my shoes, my miscellaneous paraphernalia from my two decades on this planet – replaceable. What does this say about me?

The grand total of items I would save in a fire? Sixteen. 16 things. And even now, looking back at what I chose, I could probably pare it down to 14. Maybe even 13.

What about you? What in your life is irreplaceable? What would you save from your burning house?

4 thoughts on “My Burning House”

  1. Hi Effie, I’ve been doing a lot of work on attachment myself this past year and re-evaluating what is truly important in life… I think at the end of the day, as long as I escaped with my life and loved ones, nothing else matters (although your possessions do look truly beautiful) x x

    1. Oh, you’re right of course! The attitude should probably be that stuff doesn’t really matter, and of course your loved ones are the most important!! I just think it’s a bit of an interesting thought experiment – out of all the junk we own, what matters most? I applaud your attitude!

  2. This really made me think. I immediately started listing all these things that I thought I couldn’t live without… but now I realize there are really only two things I’d grab.

    1) My laptop, Tasha, because she has all my writings and tons of pictures that mean a lot to me.
    2) A box of pictures from the living room, because it has the only pictures of my family from back when we were all really young.

    I’d be sad to see all my clothes and books burn up, but those are all replaceable – and some parts of my wardrobe should probably be burnt, anyway!

    1. I like that – very streamlined. :) It’s such an interesting thought experiment, isn’t it? So much junk in my life, but none of it is really all that important. It’s fun to see what other people would save too.

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