The Burning House

I follow a tumblr blog called “The Burning House.” It’s actually one of my favorite blogs. People are asked to send in a picture of items-with a description-that they would grab out of their homes if it suddenly started burning down. It’s fascinating to see what is important to people, and, in order to submit a photo, you really have to accept that fact that everyone is going to learn some personal things about you.

Today, there was a post from a 25-year-old woman whose occupation is “I’m not sure yet, actually.” Her list is long, and it’s filled with sentimental items that mean a lot to her, in addition to her cell phone and hard drive full of her digital possessions. I normally think something like, “you really can’t grab all those things while you escape from your burning house,” whenever I see these posts, because if your house is burning down, you grab your kids, your husband, and your shoes-and you’re gone. Maybe you have time to snatch your greatest possession, but, for the most part, staying alive is all you’ve got on your mind.

And this blog makes me wonder about that. I know that its real meaning is to show what is most important to people rather than what you can realisitically snatch on your way out the door as your house is burning down, but I noticed some very interesting things when looking at this blog.

The younger generation-like the post I saw today-tends to put all their electronics, journals, old letters, and various memoirs they’ve collected in their short life on Earth in their list. The list is typically very long and sometimes includes items that doesn’t have to be kept physically-it would be perfectly preserved in their memory. Contrastly, the older generation has a few items-their laptop or hard drive, a special photo, and one or two treasured items-in their submissions. I once saw a list of only 5 items. It seems that they are much less materialistic than our generation.

And I wonder, in this age of materialism and technology and Hoarders, if our generation is able to submit a post on that blog that only has a picture of their family, their significant other, their best friend. Maybe that thought is a little too extreme for those my age. Shouldn’t we take some advice from the older generation? Aren’t the people in our life infinitely more important than a saved love letter from a boyfriend? When your house in burning down, do you grab your iPhone or your little sister?

I understand that it isn’t likely that you will lose all your possessions tomorrow morning from a wildfire that invades your home, or a flood that overtakes your apartment, but it’s certainly something to spend time thinking about.

Mark Manson has a popular blog called Postmasculine that I spend a lot of time reading. He offers some really fantastic advice, and actually has an entire post dedicated to this topic. You can find it here.

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