What Are Your True Essentials?
Regardless of the election outcome this week, there is one major
truth that will continue to roll out and ripple through the foreseeable
future: We all need to cut back and make do with less. So how
do we make the hard decisions and still preserve the things we
love? I had a lesson on this a few years ago
It was Memorial Day weekend back in New Jersey, and six of us
were sitting on the patio around the wrought-iron table sipping
our drinks, and playing "what if" games. Like, "What
if you discovered a fire racing toward your house and had only
a few minutes to save what is most important to you. What would
you grab first?"
What I found fascinating was that the responses took awhile in
coming, and even then, continued to change as people became aware
of how their choices seemed connected to their priorities at this
particular point in their lives. For instance, while pretty much
everyone agreed on the importance of saving essential records
and some memorabilia, there was much head-scratching after that.
Take Patrick, our professional chef friend. I guess he was figuring
that recipes can be replaced or re-invented. He was more interested
in getting hold of the autographed baseball from his dad's days
as a Yankee fan - partly for the value of the ball itself, but
mostly for the memories that connected him to his late father.
Patrick's brother, Thomas, is interested in American historical
preservation, and first thought of a family heirloom boat lantern
he had recovered that probably is one-of-a-kind. But then he mused
about the many items in his large collection of one-of-a-kinds
and thought, "Maybe something more personal, instead?"
Patrick's friend, Anne, hadn't been in this country long enough
to collect much, so her main concern was the location of her passport.
And my friend, Elayne, changed her mind in quick succession from
a valuable 1920's antique, to family pictures, to a ceramic pie
plate her son had designed for her when he was four.
This "what if" game became terribly real less than
two weeks later, not ten miles from my house in Sedona. The Brins
Mesa fire burned for several weeks, consuming thousands of acres
of canyon forest. Five hundred homes were initially evacuated,
with residents given twelve minutes to remove valuables.
What did they take?
I heard dozens of stories, and while some fit the expected profile
(people taking pets, legal papers, computers, heirlooms, pictures),
many folks apparently went into panic mode and took a very strange
assortment of items indeed. For instance, there was the woman
who snatched her make-up, clothing and bills, but left her cats.
And the man who jumped into his vintage Corvette and sped away,
leaving his wife behind to gather what he could into the family
truck. These stories make a very good argument for having a plan
ahead of time. Or at the very least, knowing your current priorities.
What are your true essentials? By asking this question,
you may discover that nothing is of vital importance beyond the
safety of loved ones. You might realize that there are very few
things that we actually need in order to survive - primarily
air, water, food, adequate shelter and clothing. Victims of natural
disasters unfortunately come to understand this very quickly.
But beyond survival needs, what are your true essentials? Have
you asked yourself this question lately?
It's hard to know where to put your resources if you're not up-to-date
on your current priorities. Knowing the questions to ask that
will separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff is a major key
to successful re-budgeting. And despite any financial restrictions
you may be experiencing, it's important to remember that "true
essentials" also embrace those experiences that keep you
connected to joy.
Select a time this week to get re-acquainted with your true essentials.
Make a list if you need to and continue to update it if and when
your circumstances change.
And make sure to get out on Tuesday and vote.