I was paging through an old journal today and happened upon a page where I had written this, taken from a source I had neglected to note (and alas, can’t now seem to track down):
“from the obituary of Berthold Wolpe:
‘…one of his most treasured possessions was a miniature sweet pea with pale green leaves and tiny sky blue flowers. The seed it came from was the grandchild of a seed that had been found in a tomb of one of the Pharaohs.’
It’s a bit ironic I came across this today, because last night I was having a discussion with friends about treasures. These friends, themselves, are treasures to me – for many years we took turns meeting monthly at one another’s homes, spending long hours sharing meals and conversations in our own private rendition of a liberal think tank dreaming up solutions. Then various cross-country moves and illnesses weaned us away from regular meetings and now we gather perhaps once or twice a year as we can manage.
Last night someone mentioned having been at a large dinner party of relative strangers where everyone, both adult and child, had been asked what they would take with them that fit in a backpack they could carry if they needed to leave their home and didn’t believe they could ever return. My friend found the answers offered to be quite fascinating, which I imagine is likely always true with such a question. People are so different in what they value and consider important.
I was surprised though to discover I couldn’t really come up with an answer for myself. It’s not that I don’t treasure things – and after all, it’s my intention to live a life where I’m surrounded only by treasures. So clearly they’re important to me. But what would I take?
I think it’s not uncommon that people would say photos, but I don’t think I would. I think I’ve decided all the important memories live in the heart, and photos just aren’t necessary as a permanent reminder. Then I thought perhaps I’d take a small physical object of people. I have a few pieces of jewelry – something that belonged to my grandmother, something to mother, something to sister, you get the idea. But as I thought about it, it just didn’t seem important.
And so I’ve been sitting with all that and being curious about it. I’m pretty sure I’m probably not going to evolve into a minimalist, but it does seem as though my relationship with things is changing. What’s important in the current now moment, I’m holding much more loosely with regard to its possible importance in the future. And I’m suspecting that’s a really good thing because it’s helping me stay current and not project much energy and attachment into the future.
But having said that, I think I’m more committed to celebrating the treasures I am enjoying now. Here’s a peek at one of necklaces I treasure.
What about you? Do you know what you’d want to take with in your backpack? What treasures are you surrounding yourself with? Do tell – you know I love to hear.
What a fascinating question to ask at a dinner party! Not sure what I would say now a days since I used to always say…. my photo albums. I love paging through those because it’s like going down memory lane through events I had forgotten about the details.
It IS a fascinating question, on all sorts of levels, isn’t it? And those are always the best for dinner parties. 🙂
What a great question. I am with you and there isn’t much I would take. My cat is the only thing that really comes to mind. Okay and my husband too 🙂
LOL – good choices Michele. I’d take mine as well.
What a nice post! I admit to minimalist tendencies, but my weaknesses are books
and my children’s old clothes and toys. They just instantly transport me back to who
they were at that time.
If you haven’t already read it, you might enjoy the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. It’s a sweet little book by a lovely Japanese woman whose calling is to
help people declutter. Her philosophy is only keep the things around you that spark joy.
I loved your earlier posts where you wrote about gently going through your house and
sifting through the treasures you’ve acquired. 🙂
I have read the book and it is powerful. And I’m endlessly fascinated as well by how popular it is – it literally seems like everywhere I turn people are discussing it. When something has that wide a reach it feels like there’s lots to collectively explore at a deeper level.
I think for me pictures is an automatic, the scrapbook of our wedding but the funny thing is, when there really was a question of this, our house was looking like it was going to be flooded. I did something surprising and saved my computer too. My thoughts were of connecting to everyone and I have no cell phone so my computer was it. Two actually. One because it has every birth chart I’ve ever done as an astrologer, the other, my current one because it holds all of you, in real time, now. And I knew I’d need all of you if I was without my home.
Ah that’s such an interesting thing to discover – clarity in the moment that you might not have guessed otherwise. And what a lovely and powerful understanding of what kind of self-care and support you wanted to set up for yourself. Bravo.
Very cool necklace! When you live through a fire you find everything is replaceable. We don’t have any pictures left. They all burned. What was captured in those photos I was now forced to only remember so I find no need to keep photographs any longer. After selling my house and packing every single item only to be stored for five years I found I did not use even a quarter of it when we settled in to our new home. This process has made me rethink possessions. They are not necessary. As time passes they become irrelevant. I don’t think I would need a backpack. I think I would only need my pockets. Memories do not need a lot of room. 🙂
Well first Kelli let me say I’m truly sorry you experienced such a dramatic life-shifting event. Even though I know it helped shape you into the luminous being you are, no doubt that was a difficult journey, and for that I’m sorry. But what beautiful clarity you have – you’re an inspiration.
This is great, Deborah. I would take my iphone, computer, my iPad and my I Ching book by Master Ni. I already have a ton of books on my iPad so would not need to grab the only other book I would have to have, which is my other I Ching book by Deng Ming-Dao. I would not take pictures. I have some on my computer and they don’t affect me like they do some people. I would also take some jewelry – my citron ring and some earrings. I would wear my fab tennis shoes because I can go anywhere in them. I would probably also grab a ball of yarn and some knitting needles because the stress of having to leave everything behind might require some knitting time. This goes without saying that Eric & Tatia don’t fit in my backpack and I assume that they can come. Oh, and scissors. Who doesn’t need scissors at least once a day? and a pen and a pad of paper. Same reason. A very practical list.
I love this Amy. It feels like a perfect list for you. And I think that’s one of the delights of this exercise, we get to see how beautifully different we all are, and how perfect it is that we align with what important to us.
By the way, I saw an interview by Jon Stewart of Willie Nelson today. His guitar has been with him for many decades. It has a hole in it because it survived a house fire. Willie said that the house was on fire but he ran back in to grab it. It has a name, but I forget what he called it. Sweet story.
That really is wonderful.
Wow – what a delicious idea. First, the gathering together and sharing. The dinner party. I love that. My family is rather introspective. We don’t get out much. We live on a farm, and we think of ourselves as not social, but the truth is – when we dropped by a friend’s house recently to pick up something before she had her big yard sale the next day, we visited, and hung out on her back patio, and played in her garden, and wandered through her lovely home. We visited for a couple of slow, summer evening hours and it was grand. I think we will be opening our home up a little more this year to see what sorts of gatherings we can handle.
Then the treasure! I love the idea of a talisman. I have never had any specific item that was my thing either. I am a poet and I find beauty in just about everything, but then am able to leave it where it is and enjoy it in my mind and move on, and go enjoy something else.
That’s a beautiful way to walk in the world Liesl – capturing the beauty of life in poetry.
Wishing you a lovely summer, that opens up in new joyful ways for you and your family!