I got to thinking about my most-prized possessions. Which are they really? Which of my stuff would I try to rescue if the house caught fire, or if we had to flee enemy troops and bring along or hide our valuables?
One way to look at it would be to simply enumerate the most expensive stuff I have, the things that would cost the most to replace if they disappeared or would fetch a good price if I sold them. But YuSie and I don’t really have any valuables. No gold or precious stones or artwork or other collectibles worth mentioning, and our home electronics are simple and years old. So’s our car. And we live in a huge tenement building that’s most definitely not our possession. Also, even if I did happen to own something with a big price sticker, say, an inherited vintage watch or a piece of heavy celebrity memorabilia, there’s nothing to say that I’d be very keen to replace it if I lost it.
Another approach would be to rank stuff according to sentimental value. But I am unsentimental about material possessions. Sure, many old things I’ve got trigger fond memories when I handle them, but I never seek them out to get that effect, and I wouldn’t miss them if the option to seek them out were closed to me. Photographs of the kids when they were younger provoke a really strong emotional response in me on the rare occasions when I look at them, but it’s kind of knee-jerk and backwards — of course I don’t wish that my son had quit growing at age two, and I don’t love his current version any less than I did his toddler one. Old photographs of your kids really just invite painful nostalgia.
My most prized possessions must be something that I’d miss and that would be hard or even impossible to regain if I lost it. Thinking about it, I find it’s mainly stuff to do with my work. I’d be really upset if my archaeological finds went up in flames, but they’re not strictly my possessions, I just safekeep them until the Heritage Board’s administrative machinery has churned out a museum allocation for them. I’d be more distraught if my unpublished manuscripts and databases went to the great null device in the sky, which is why I make regular backup copies of the files onto various servers. I’ve got digital diaries and reading lists from the mid-90s onward, but I back them up too.
Picturing myself in the parking lot, watching the house go up in smoke, I can’t really think of a single thing I’d like to charge in and rescue. As long as my family is safely with me there on the asphalt, as long as we all still have our health and wits, I can’t really see that there is anything I can’t afford to lose.
What about you, Dear Reader?