If your apartment was on fire and you had 60 seconds to grab one thing you need and leave, what would you grab? What would be the first thing you think of in that apartment that is so important you can’t leave behind?
The answer to this question could be anything to anyone. To some people it could be a laptop with their life’s work, to others it could be a picture of someone who passed away and that they hold dear.
Now think about that thing you grabed. How would you feel if you had left it behind? If it had burned with everything else? Would you feel your life is over because all your work disappeared? Would you feel sad because that sentimental memory doesn’t exist anymore?
The truth is you’d be just fine because at that moment what you need is different from what you think you need every other day. You only have to put things in perspective to realise how much the concept of needing something changes dramatically.
We live in a world of conspicuous consumption where people are judged by what they wear and how they look simply because it tells how financially powerful they are. We dine in expensive restaurants, we buy expensive clothes and drive expensive cars. It seems typical to us because we can afford them and because everybody else is doing the same thing. It feels normal to the point that we need those things to fit in and have an ordinary life. But is that really normal?
When I was in Bali I met so many humble and kind people who didn’t have a lot. I met one lady who looked like she was in her sixties. She sold rice, coffee, coconut and peanuts in a small shack in the middle of a rice field. One can barely even notice her shack hidden from the main road. She wore an old dress that was a little torn and a bamboo hat. She was simply natural like the place she came from. No brands, no expensive products to sell just whatever little things she grew in her small space. She didn’t speak much English so she ended up teaching me Indonesian! Here’s a short video if you’d like to leatn some words!
I remember thinking to myself that she looked so happy and content with the things she had. Through it all I felt silly for a moment. I felt how absurd the world I come from can sometimes be. That old lady, who is supposed to be resting in her age, is still working to put food on her table. She wasn’t moaning about it, she wore a big smile and a gold heart. She is the real world.
Now any time I feel I’m losing myself in the fuss of this world buzzing with extravagances all I do is go back in my head to that lady. She grounds me, warms my heart and puts things in perspective when they are shambled. The truth is you don’t need to go to Bali to see how some people really live with so little. There are a lot of them here. For those who live here it’s even harder because they are surrounded by extravagant things that they probably can’t ever afford. We shouldn’t detach ourselves from them because they make us remember why we’re here and what it is we really need in this life.
So in those 60 seconds I have if my apartment was on fire, I wouldn’t grab a thing. I couldn’t care less if all my belongings burn! There are only a few things I need in my life and they are not in my apartment.