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  • Amy Michele

What Matters Most?


"Love people and use things, because the opposite never works." Joshua Fields Millburn

The vast majority of us have at some point had some variation following question posed to us: "If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would like to have?". Typically, we chose items of comfort or tools that we think would aide in escape. I have experienced a different, but similar question, "if you were in fire, what would you grab?" In this circumstance, more people seem to think of the sentimental. Hurricane Irma gave me another view that in some ways combines both thought patterns above. While I did not completely evacuate my home, I did have to pause and give thought to what I really needed to protect, what was irreplaceable, what was truly important to me.


My first thoughts were the people in my life who mean the most to me. I was fortunate to hear from all my family and close friends and knew where they would be and that they had appropriate plans in place. A very close second concern was the safety and comfort of my pet. I knew she would be scared and I needed to plan around making her feel secure. My husband, dog and I did leave our house shuttered to spend the day of the storm's direct impact assisting a neighbor. As I considered what I wanted to have with me "just in case" the impact of the storm was devastating, only a very few items came to mind. My wedding rings and those belonging to my grand and great-grand mothers were on my hands. I gathered the cash I had in my home, my passport and a few other vital pieces of paperwork and my cell phone simply to stay in contact with the people in my life. Other than those items, I did select some things for comfort spending the day outside of my home. I packed this bag the night before just expecting to continue to think of other important or irreplaceable things that I would need to add. However, there were no other treasures added to my bag. Nothing else priceless or irreplaceable to cart next door. It was refreshing evidence to me that the things that truly mattered were right in front of me or carried in my heart. The physical manifestations of my life were only things that could be replaced.

As the storms impact's were cleared away and life slowly came back around to our new normal, I further reflected upon the stuff in my life and took another long look at what I was keeping and maintaining that was not truly necessary. I removed a substantial number of things that I had just been putting off making a decision about. I recognized the difference between literal and perceived value of the collectibles or memories to which I was clinging. And I released those items that did not truly add value to every day of my life to a better use by someone else.

Hurricane Irma brought back to mind the "fire" question from above and an experience I had over 10 years ago in a much less mindful (ie mindless) stage of life. I was staying alone in a hotel when a fire alarm went off somewhere in the building late in the evening. Instead of grabbing just my purse and robe and heading straight out of the building, I delayed throwing clothes I had recently acquired and what I am sure I thought were precious things into a large bag. I then had to make my way slowly down the staircase and out into the parking lot. I am sure I made quite a site struggling to drag this large bag behind me as others hurried to pass. Fortunately the fire was simply an item burning on a stove and was quickly dealt with. Shortly after settling my treasures into my rental car, I was told to drag myself and my "valuables" back into the building. How foolish I was in that moment and fortunate that my delay did not cost me dearly. While my poor choices that evening are embarrassing to remember, at least I can see where I have grown and how my intentions to be more mindful have brought me to a more mature mindset. By eliminating so much of what is unimportant, it is easy now for me to zero in on what matters most in my life.