Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Twist...

...on an old question.

Typically I've heard "If you could save one thing from your burning home other than your family or pets, what would it be?" Yesterday on Talk of the Nation I heard a story that put a different and very current spin on this question. In light of the current economic situation, many people are selling off belongings to ease financial woes. Mary Schmich, columnist for The Chicago Tribune, asks: What wouldn't you sell if times got so tough you had to sell some belongings?

It really made me think, and at first I didn't know quite how to respond. I am nervous that this is a reasonable question to ask at this point in American history. I am sad that many people who have previously never had to consider this question, suddenly have to take it very seriously. I am mad that there seems to be a bigger divide than we have seen in a long time between the haves and the have nots, and that some are still so oblivious to the growing amount of struggle happening often in their own neighborhood. I am stunned at the amounts of "haves" who, with one layoff or cutback, slip so quickly into that "have not" realm.

Luckily, I have not yet found myself in a situation that would require me to sell any of my belongings to survive. I attribute this in part to living a fairly simple lifestyle: nice but economical car, no cable television, no daily lattes, old but sturdy furniture, eating out only once or twice per week. Sure, I could make a few more cutbacks if need be, but I feel like I live very sensibly. I also have a job I really love, that I hope continues to be stable and lasting. But, back to the question.

It took some serious consideration for me to answer this. I discovered that there really aren't too many of my belongings that I am super attached to. This, I guess, is good. It might not be super convenient to live without a dining room table or a television (not that anyone would probably want my 13inch :) ), but I could do it. If my house was burning I would definitely grab my external hard drive that holds my entire music collection, photos...the typical stuff. In a selling situation, it's not grab and go. I could temporarily store all my songs on my computer's hard drive, and I doubt anyone would want to buy photos of my family or my friends and I doing goofy stuff. There are a lot of things that I wouldn't want to sell, but could ultimately be replaced if it meant living independently or not. Also, let's assume that since my computer is nearly 5 years old, and my iPod is custom engraved, that those things are safe :)

After much thought, I would not sell the following items:

1.) My favorite quilt - It's not handmade, it's not an antique, and it's definitely not an heirloom, but it's been with me since freshman year of college and I love it. I don't even use it on my bed, but it's one of the most comforting things I have in my house and I would really miss it.

2.) The family rocker - I was rocked in it as a baby, and I know my Mom has always hoped I would use it for my own children some day.

3.) My car - It's not luxury, but my Yaris is a great car, and the first new vehicle I bought for myself. Also, I need it to get back and forth to work and I'm severely independent and know it would stress me out to no end not having it around.

The whole exercise was pretty eye opening as far as priorities and values go. Hopefully I never find myself in this situation because, while the car would give me shelter, and the quilt would keep me warm, I fear a Clampett-esque situation since I don't think the rocker would actually fit INSIDE the Yaris...


Liz @ McFargan: A Midwestern Matrimony said...

Your post really makes me think... I may have to respond to this on the Bloggity blog myself...


--C said...

Hi Liz! Thanks for the love, and hope everything is going well for you.