Apr 282011

There you are, one minute  you are sitting there nice and cozy in your beautiful brick 3 bedroom, 2 bath, double garage, on a quarter acre with all the trappings of life as defined by the attitude of consumerism.  Your house has all the requisite things that everyone says you need to have to be happy.  Nice furniture, big screen tv, a kitchen full of convenient appliances, two cars, a finely manicured lawn.  As I said, one minute you are sitting there nice and comfy and the next, it’s gone, all of it.  Every appliance, every knick knack, every memento of your life, all the stuff you worked so hard to purchase is gone.  In the aftermath of one of natures most violent displays, you are left standing in the middle of a pile of rubble with nothing more than the clothes on your back.  If you are lucky, no one you know is hurt or killed.  But all your possessions are gone.  You might be able to salvage a scrap or two but the rest is destroyed.  So now what do you do?

If you look at the pictures and video of the survivors of the recent tornado outbreaks in the south and midwest you can see the shock and trauma in their faces.  It goes beyond the horror of the storm itself.  The idea of losing everything can be just as life threatening as the storm itself.  For some people the value of their possessions overtakes their lives and controls just about everything they do.  The quest to obtain and then keep the things that you have strived for over the years can become an obsession.  Possessions can control your life preventing you from doing the things you really want to do.  It is very easy to place way too much value on material things which makes it all the more difficult when you lose them.  Yes, insurance can replace the house, the car, some of the stuff, if you don’t mind all the paperwork and excuses.  But it doesn’t replace time, or the life you spent building that little slice of paradise.

This is not meant in any way to demean the people who are suffering right now from the tornado outbreak.  I feel sorry for them and their losses.  It will take a long time to recover from what has happened to them.    But you can just see it in their eyes that the idea of losing everything is beyond what they may be able to handle.  Their obsession over having possessions will make their recovery a lot tougher.  For those who may have lived in one spot all their lives it can be even worse.  The comfort and security of a place that they have taken for granted all those years is replaced by the fear of the unknown.  It’s going to be a tough road ahead for these people.

Take a look at your own situation.  How would you cope with losing all your material goods?  What would you do if everything you owned was gone in an instant.  Would you endanger your own life to protect your possessions?  It can happen anywhere.  There is no safe place.  Tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, floods, all kinds of disasters, natural and manmade are out there.  Could you rebuild?  Would you rebuild?  Should you rebuild, knowing that it all could happen again?  Here in the Keys we are just one Cat 3 away from a major disaster.  The next hurricane season is about a month away and every close call reminds us of how close we are to losing our little tropical paradise.  As for myself?  Not worried.  In the event of evacuation I can be packed and out of the Keys in less than 2 hours.  If something happened faster and I did lose everything, it could all be replaced in less than 48 hours and for a few thousand dollars or less.  Not counting the vehicle and the pussycats.  And vehicle may be gone soon, while you just can’t put a value on pussycats.  It may sound like I am bragging a little and to honest, yes I am.  Cats aside, I have no sentimental attachment to anything I own.  The things I have now are just the things I need to live on a day to day basis.  Clothes, computer for business, bicycle for transportation around the island, and little else.  I am quite comfortable and I just don’t need much of anything.  It may sound like I am poor, (I am but still, not the point), but I am living on a tropical island with all the amenities you would expect.  And if some disaster did befall and I was forced to leave, all I need to do is pack up the cats, a backpack full of clothes and the computer, and off to another slice of paradise.  It would take me less than a day to set up in a new spot and be back to blogging, writing ebooks, and living the simple life.  There is a lot to be said for minimalism right now.  As tragic as the tornado disaster is, it makes a good case for living with less.  As for the folks going through this disaster, I wish you all the best in your struggles to get through this.  Now is not the time to preach the gospel of less is more.  Just don’t let your losses destroy your life but rather point you in a new and hopefully better direction.

The Fritter