I ask a lot of questions when working with people to find peace and freedom in their home. The questions vary by person and situation. “Do you like this item?” “Do you want to keep up with the care and storage of this item?” “Is this item an excess duplicate?” And so on.
One question I ask myself but not others is, “would you rebuy this if you lost it in a fire?”
Maybe you will think this is morbid. At times I sure do. That is exactly why I don’t ask this question of other people. I simply ask, “would you buy this item again?”
I should say that I have never had any reason to ask this question involving a fire. I’ve never experienced a fire myself. I’ve never even known anyone personally who has been involved in a house fire.
That is until this past year when I found out that the house of my friends burned. It was an accident that they had nothing to do with. Each of the seven people in their family made it out safely but hardly any of their possessions did. A photo or two and a small amount of other precious items.
Maybe you’ve known someone or you yourself have suffered this loss. What is the first word that you think of when you hear about a house burning down? I think of words like tragedy, devastation, and loss. Then I think of words like rebuilding, starting over, and community.
There are a few lessons that I want you hear from this as you continue reading. First, from my friend, make a video documentation of what you own because the insurance dealings are difficult and this video will help. Second, the less you own, the less hassle you will deal with both in everyday life and in emergencies or loss. Third, it’s all just stuff and only some of it is necessary and beautiful.
Make a Video/Take Photos
I spent a little bit of time walking through my home recently making a video of all of my belongings. It took some time but it is done. I got serial numbers on things like the TV and my computer. Be sure to get in close on jewelry and artwork, perhaps getting photos of these individually.
As another quick practical tip, have a fireproof safe that you store your important paperwork in as well.
Remember that “less” is different from “none.” The less things you own, the less things you have to keep up with in the day-to-day. And, in the unlikely but still real possibility event that you suffer a fire or natural disaster or loss of a loved one (more on this specifically in another blog post to come) you have less to deal with.
The Necessary and Beautiful
When my friends started rebuilding their belongings they had immediate needs. They made a list of all the things they would need and their amazing community stepped up in beautifully unexpected ways. Yes, I used the word “need” in that last sentence correctly. They needed clothes, basic kitchen items, and basic furniture. But we also thrive when we have beauty around us. They might not be the first things we buy after a fire but they are probably on the wish list just the same.
I’m not asking you to get rid of everything you own except that which you would need right after a fire. I’m asking you to think about what you own and WHY you own it. Do you want to keep 3 sets of fine china that you wouldn’t purchase again if it was all broken? That is totally fine. Just know WHY you are keeping it. Chances are they are sentimental items and we all know those can’t be replaced. (I’m also not saying you need to keep everything that is sentimental but that is for another time.)