Let’s pretend your house is on fire. You can get to safety, but your stuff is all about to be destroyed. What would you take with you as you fled for your life?
If you’re a parent, this is a trick question. As far as I’m concerned there is one, and only one, right answer: your kids. If your attention is on anything but getting them and yourself safely outdoors, you fail.
It’s an interesting mental exercise, though. There’s a fascinating blog devoted to people’s answers to this question.
The Burning House shows photos and brief explanations of what individuals say they’d take from their homes in a fire. The answers are largely sentimental, revealing a lot about what the person values most. They say:
If your house was burning, what would you take with you? It’s a conflict between what’s practical, valuable and sentimental. What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities. Think of it as an interview condensed into one question.
Before I had kids, I kept my favorite books and most precious journals on the bookshelf closest to my bed. It was nice to have them close at hand, but I also imagined that they’d be easy to grab and carry away with me in a house fire. I moved while I was pregnant with my first child and just never got around to setting up that “in case of fire” bookshelf again.
Because it just wasn’t important anymore. Who cares if I lose 20 years worth of diaries? My laptop with all my family photos and unfinished novel manuscripts? My mother’s wedding ring? I’m over it. Once I had a baby, there were no things in the world, or in my house, that I’d take any substantial risk to save. The only thing I really care about now is my family.
What would you take from a burning building? What would you be most sorry to lose?