Life Essentials



Its fire season again in Southern California, but the devastation this time seems to be worse than usual. Fast spreading fire-storms have destroyed over 110 multi-million dollar homes in Montecito, near Santa Barbara. Last night, another major blaze erupted in Sylmar on the northwest edge of LA, leveling more homes as well as threatening the power supply of the city. Now, looking from our house on a hill, I can see smoke in all directions of the compass, as high winds and low humidity have combined to blow embers from as far as 40-50 miles away and start new fires in the southern and eastern parts of the city. Fire crews, already stretched thin by the existing conflagrations, are struggling to keep up with the new hot spots. Aid is coming in form other parts of the state, as well as adjacent territories, but with no rain in the forecast and the amount of dry brush that has accumulated, this may turn out to be a very long and costly battle.


For the first time in a while, these events have started me thinking about what I would try to salvage if the flames were to appear closer than they are, and mandatory evacuation orders get issued, as they have been in the areas currently threatened. For many, the flames spread so quickly and unexpectedly, that they literally had no more than a few minutes in which to get out. In times like these, it’s revealing what are the things most important to us. Family photos, small mementos from parents and friends that have little, if any monetary value, but are perhaps the last physical links to a cherished relationship make the cut. Insurance policies, financial documents necessary to try and rebuild a new home should our present one be lost have to be included. A change of clothes, a list of addresses and phone numbers get thrown in the car. All the other “stuff” we have accumulated over an acquisitive lifetime, seems all of a sudden not so important. All are replaceable, and as I reflect during this time, most are unnecessary. Just as nature clears out the dead brush of the past to make room for new life, perhaps this is a good time to pause, reflect, set new priorities, and start doing the same. Be well.

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21 Responses to Life Essentials

  1. Charlotte says:

    Will keep you in my prayers that the fires do not reach your area.  In the meantime, I agree with what you would take with you.  Photos that can\’t be replaced and documents to start over… all else seems quite insignificant at the moment, eh?  Take care hugs, lottemae

  2. Anastasia says:

    It gives cause for thought how much of our lives are disposable.  I might take more on a two week vacation than I would perhaps deem worthy of saving in such circumstances.  In almost every cabinet or cupboard there are things that I can\’t remember acquiring or recall why I\’m saving.  Some part of me worries that I might need these things "just-in-case" and yet, I wonder how much less overwhelming life would feel if I only kept what I really needed.  Of those things that really are important, photographs and letters, how many of us know where they are?  So many pictures I\’ve never looked at since I picked them up from being processed.  Perhaps, in circumstances like these, we should set aside our own personal holiday – reserved for perusing memorabilia and framing pictures.  Just in case we should lose them someday, perhaps the memories will be fresher.

  3. Beth says:

    I have been watching the horrendous fires on MSNBC and CNN.  My heart goes out to everyone involved. 
    I have my insurance policies and other things like that in a safety deposit box at the bank.  I have put my photos from my childhood through today on DVDs and also transferred all old camcorder tapes to DVD.  I have these all together in a container and I would take that and my purse of course since I have half of my belongings in it.  😉
    Stay safe Jorge, you and all involved in the fires will be in my prayers tonight.

  4. PJ says:

    Good Evening Jorge,
    I, too, have been watching CNN and all the damage and destruction that the wildfires are causing. I certainly pray that they will be contained soon.
    As for the belongings….I have to agree with you. The photos of my family that have passed are of the utmost value to me. I actually have MOST of them in a fire proof safe along with other important documents.
    Until next time..Keep smiling.

  5. Marge says:

    The devastation to lives and property is humbling, Jorge. Your parting words echo my sentiments:
    "Just as nature clears out the dead brush of the past to make room for new life, perhaps this is a good time to pause, reflect, set new priorities, and start doing the same."
    May your home be spared during this dangerous time.
    Thinking of you, as ever,

  6. J says:

    Hi Jorge,
    The fires must be just awful. My heart goes out to all who are affected by them.
    Again your words are most poignant as these are times when smoke rises from all points on the compass.
    Troubling times indeed to try and get all our ducks in row. Why do we never make duck herding a priority until the stampede.
    Take care,

  7. Michelle says:

    You and your wife are in my thoughts. I hope the fires will get under control soon. I am sorry for all those who have lost so much in them.
    It really is amazing what things we value. I am very sentimental and have an odd assortment of things that are special to me, but worthless to others!
    Pictures and memories from loved ones is what I would grab. But you are so right, all the material clutter we gather really is not a necessity to our happiness and we could probably breathe easier if we let go of some of it. I have recently started learning that lesson when a cat breaks something when playing. I used to think awwww shute but now I usually say, I had too much stuff anyway! No big deal.
    You do remind me that we need to get our important papers in order just to be on the safe side because you never know when an emergency might happen.

  8. sweeti's says:

    I had my friend Bob  on the msn last night…He  is in san diego.
    While he was telling abt  the fact they should be readyto evacuate..Police  was at his door
    telling  that  they maybe should evauate  very soon  so be  prepared.
    Of course  u have to take ur wat shape..fotos  or the  wedding ring  of ur mom and dad.
    now in these days  i think 
    as u  write   .The  most valubale things  are ur loved ones…..
    I hope  everything will be ok for U  Jorge…and for all the ppl  who face this fire.
    time back i said  i was jealous  abt  the  sunshine  and the warmth  u all had there.But  is has  also his bad sides  like  now.
    so everythign has  his good and  bad sides.
    TC and be well
    God bless u all

  9. Brian says:

    In the end, the\’re all just things, aren\’t they?  I\’d save the dog, maybe my father\’s dressing gown, pictures of the boys when they were babies, and one book of poems Gel gave me.  A life can always be rebooted.  Hope you\’re safe.

  10. Kathryn says:

    I\’ve thought of that too – what would I grab (besides my laptop and memory key with hundreds of thousands of words saved!) – I just can\’t imagine fire destorying everything…god.

  11. Patricia says:

    it makes you want to get things organized so you can just "grab it" and go…

  12. Jane says:

    Often that which we hold valuable is not so after all….and that we take for granted is indeed priceless.

  13. Embrace says:

    It is amaing how this has happened and what you have said at the end. All things are replaceable expect a few. Family , Freinds and the things you hold the most dear to you.
    Making room for a new life is easier said than done as we both know. It can be done however.
    Thanks for this blog in many many ways.
    It has touched me deeply.
    Be Well also.:)
    and Thank You
    Lisa xo

  14. Bittersweet on-the-hill. says:

    Hello Jorge,
    Every evening we watch the 6 o\’clock news and I shutter  at the loss from the fires.  I watch those 60 mph winds and I almost can\’t fathom the fires that are fueled. I wish you and family well and safety.
    Our colder temps have set in; High 20\’s at night and snow squalls during the day. Our seasons have changed I fear!
    Your post was very worthy of thought. Do have a good Thanksgiving and yes, as I view the plight that people face today, I feel very thankful for what I have.  Blessings and take care.  Bittersweet

  15. Holy says:

    Yes you\’ve been on my  mind these past couple of weeks – I was looking at the Santa Barbara map and saw your neck of the wood to southwest and wondered where those fires might feed to next.Fire is devastating.  I know this because our house burned down as a child.  It took us years to rebuild and arguably, our family never did really recover from the loss.But stuff is just stuff. Glad you have your priorities straights. Women and wine first.

  16. Holy says:

    I should clarify that – I didn\’t mean to infer that you were a womanizing lush.  :)Simply that you would get your wife out in the event of the fire first and grab a nice bottle of that really expensive wine you\’d been saving for a so-called special day, as you were racing down the hall with your paperwork and pictures tucked under the other arm. 

  17. Mei's says:

    Hope all is well and safe, nice to see you dropped by. Take care.

  18. Jana says:

    The fire is scary!!!! I am kind of glad I am living in MA. I am sure it makes you think a lot about your priorities and what is important to you. I know that the economy cannot be compared with fire but it made me think and to be thankful about some staff as like that I still have a job, that I don\’t have to pay any mortgage and credit cards and I am happy with the little I have and that even little means these days a lot.

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