I don’t like having shit in my house. I’m very anti-packrat and every few months I go through a purge and try to eliminate whatever is in my place that doesn’t get used, hasn’t been used, or is simply taking up space. Less baggage means less to worry about, and the fewer concerns I have the more focused I can be to the things that matter in life. Plus, let’s be honest, who wants to move a 15 pound bread maker that only gets used once every few years?
The fire was the ultimate purge. Ironically, clarity came best when the smoke was the thickest (also came panic, coughing, and a nasty smell that’s a total bitch to get out of your linens; but that’s this post). I learned exactly what I needed in life. The things that were most valuable were instantly known.
Here’s a complete list of what was saved: the cats; my safe which contained my social security card, passport, blank checks, backup hard-drive, etc.; my laptop which contained pictures, four years of school documents, all of my thesis work, and tons of blog info.
I was able to crystallize in about two seconds what I could not live without or what would have caused my life to not just turn upside down, but absolutely decimate it in ways that are akin to how major cities are treated in a film by Michael Bay.
These were the needs in my life. Defined, simple, and all of them able to fit in the back seat of my car with room leftover.
Now that I'm rebuilding I am assessing my other needs. My need for shelter and food has been been met and so I move on to my more superficial and occupational needs. Things like pots and pans, spices, furniture, a good bottle of wine or two.
Yes, a good bottle of wine or two. A day after the fire pounding a bottle of wine with a whiskey back was a need. Now, it's a need. (The wine, not the whiskey. Unless it's been one of those days.)
Some might argue that some things such as wine or a new Le Creuset pot (to replace the one lost in the fire) aren't needs but rather wants.
A good point. Yet, we have to remember that needs are circumstantial, circumspect, and what may seem frivolous to me may be requisite for another.
For example, do I need an electric mixer? Yes and no. Yes, in that my hobbies, work, and blog sort of necessitate needing one which, all and all, gives me pleasure which is an indispensable part of a healthy life. No, in that will life end without it? Of course not, though life without my Granny Smith green Kitchen-Aid mixer is certainly debatable. (My chocolate chip cookies bring gods to tears, so no, actually, it’s not.)
Pinking shears are silly to me, but to the avid scrap-booker, they are your tools. A heart monitor to a triathlete. Leather gloves to a gardener. Cocktails to Sandra Lee. These are all needs.
Of course, in all of these examples people can make do and move on, find solutions to the drama that ensues without their needs being met. Yet they make us whole, they may just be things but they're those little ingredients that make our situations just right. They don't need to be justified. Needs are personal and only we know what they really are.
In the end we know what our needs, needs, and wants are. Our needs are our family portraits, our needs are our tools or joys, our wants are memberships to the Cowgirl Creamery cheese club. (Though that might be just me.)
I've been lucky. My needs were saved. My insurance and the generosity of others have helped me meet my other needs, and to my surprise and gratitude a few wants. They've put life back into a state of normalcy albeit at a new address.
As long as we know what our real needs are - the ones that won't cause life to collapse in on us like a dying star - then we're well on our way to defining what our other needs are. Once those are addressed, we can move on to the bittersweet world of wants.