Tag Archives: books

Don’t Wanna be a Material Girl

A few years ago, a friend showed me the book Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel, Paul Kennedy and Charles C. Mann.

Originally published in 1994, this book continues to make me think. The authors describe this book as “an attempt to capture, through photos and statistics, both the common humanity of the peoples inhabiting our Earth and the great differences in material goods and circumstances that make rich and poor societies.”

The book highlights stories of families from 30+ countries across the globe. Each family is asked to place all their worldly possessions outside their dwelling for a photograph. Some families easily transport their possessions out of their home. For others, it is quite an endeavor.

Just imagine if you were asked to move all of your material goods onto your front lawn. Would you be proud, embarrassed, enlightened?

More recently, I came across the website the Burning House. The Burning House is a single topic blog featuring posts (from anyone) in response to the following prompt:

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.

Fascinating and what an interesting social experiment. The posts submitted have mainly been from people in their 20s and 30s. I have read many of the posts and am intrigued with the items young people are choosing to identify as important.

It makes me wonder if the posts would be different if the blog featured mainly 50 and 60 year olds. How about 70 and 80 year olds?

So, what would you take if you could only grab one, two or a few items?

Me. I am at an age where I am downsizing my life and what I thought was important is not anymore. So, I would grab people. Then… I would grab my purse which has everything I need to survive for a few days. My inhaler, makeup, chocolate, gum, mints, a mini first aid kit, some cash, identification, my phone, pens, coupons, credit cards and of course, tissues.