The last three years have seen me ponder my must-takes in the event of an evacuation as changes in weather patterns increase the threat of forest fires. Given enough time to prepare, my grandmother’s wedding ring, my grandfather’s diary, and my signed first edition of The Alchemist, reminding me of my accidental meeting with Paulo Coelho, are on list along with important documents and essentials. As the yearly fire season lengthens and fires inch closer, I consider other possessions on a sliding scale of time allotted for evacuation.
Each fire season returns my focus to my list. Recently, I entertained another possibility, ‘What if I can’t take anything?’ That thought caused a sharp intake of breath and an acceleration in my heartrate. Yet, the more I considered that scenario, the more the conversation in my head expanded. ‘You have one life. Is it about the items and their value, or sentiment? Is that what really matters?’ My heart said, ‘No.’
In light of this new line of thinking, I emailed friends who sold their home and many of their belongings to travel a couple of years ago. They also rented a storage container for the belongings they wanted to keep. I asked, “Do you miss anything or regret your decisions?” They both responded, “The longer our things were in storage, the more we realized we didn’t need them. The more we let go of, the freer we felt.”
As the years of preparation for evacuation mount, my list of must-takes shrinks. The present moment builds an internal storehouse of treasures that are easy to transport and always available to recall.
This weekend we attended my sister-in-law’s concert. There was a moment where she stepped off-stage to dance with individuals in the audience. A woman came up to dance with her while trying to capture the moment on her phone. I wondered, ‘Do you want to focus on filming the experience or be present for the dance?’
The state of Nature has accelerated change and recalibrated my priorities. Presence now holds a higher value than possessions. What I treasure most cannot be left behind. I choose to be present for the dance.