The Valuable Stuff in the wake of Hurricane #Sandy.

We are lucky more didn’t get damaged in the Heights

I feel very fortunate to get past this storm without any major problems. I feel even luckier that everyone in my family is doing well. Its times like these that we begin to really see how frail we, human beings, are when up against a massive force like Hurricane Sandy. It gives me the time to search for clarity and understanding that life can be very short indeed.

A few days before Sandy hit, my sister in law called me concerned with the things I put in storage in her basement when I moved. In the past, water has gotten down there when it has rained hard. There was a serious expectation that water was going to be plentiful with all the rain. There are few things in there that would probably be damaged. The things of value that I do have there are most likely protected in there own right. For example, I have tons of comic books…and yes they are in cardboard boxes but, they are each individually wrapped in plastic. I wasn’t too worried about that. However, I am sure there are other things that are in there that probably would get damaged or destroyed.

The thing is…this is just stuff. It is hard to explain it as such, but material things are great but what value do they really have? If I’m meant to have it then I will have it. Sometimes terrible things happen as we were all witnesses to during this devastating storm. I put my car in a garage because I didn’t want the only tree in Washington Heights to land on it. Any items that are ultra personal or are just about priceless to me, I have with me. So anything in a storage box that I may not readily use, may not be of too much value.

As I watched on TV, what is left of Atlantic City, The Jersey Shore, and Lower Manhattan, I wondered to myself how did I get this way? People are crushed by the lost of their property and material assets. I’m not sure if I would be that upset. Yes, I know that if my house was destroyed while I was still in Syracuse I would be very upset, but I cannot help but wonder, in the back of my mind, if something like was a blessing in disguise. There is a scene in Fight Club where the narrator loses all his possessions and as he wonders what he is going to do with his life, Tyler Durden simply states, “Things that you own, end up owning you.” (Yes, I’ve said this before)

This year it just seemed to me that I have been relinquishing more and more stuff from my life. It started with the sale of the house, then the moving to the new apt in Syracuse, then the moving to NYC, and if I am lucky…the moving to a new apt. The moving process is always a long a tedious one because there is need to make those decisions on whether to keep something or throw it out. This type of consolidation is just easier if you think about possessions as just stuff that might fluctuate in value depending how old you are.

Yet, the last item of value that I really lost was my glasses off the shores of Fire Island this past summer. It took me a few days to just get over something that was just made out of plastic. Of course, I held them to a higher value because they made me see better, but in the long run, I could live without them. But, then I think about Rocky and he is just about as invaluable to me as any comic book I have. 

Human life is one of the most valuable things on this planet. We squander it in such obscene ways and we wonder where it all went when get older or even close to death. There are some people that don’t believe in the value of life and there are some people who “believe” in it so much they ignore science for religion. So when it come to the “stuff” that I have, none of it is all that important in the long run. I cannot take these things with me when I die and 9 times out of 10, material things are replaceable. People, however, are never replaceable.

I am just glad to be safe and all my family members are accounted for. I pray for those who lost loved ones as well their worldly possessions. I never checked on the stuff in my brother’s basement and I’m not sure it really matters anyway because the ones that I truly value are still here.

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Posessions

One of my favorite movies of all time is Fight Club. This is a very slick movie that has one main underline theme. This is also the movie that made me like Brad Pitt. Before then, I wasn’t trying to watch any of his films because I felt he was too much of a clean white boy. Well this particular movie definitely changed my mind about him in very much the same way that Blood Diamond made me change my mind about Leonardo Dicaprio.

So, I will get into this movie without spoiling it. First and foremost, this movie is really not about fighting at all. While there are a lot of fight scenes, which are awesome, the underlining theme is consumerism. We, as Americans, feel we need to buy stuff all the time. This economy is entirely based on consumer spending. So if don’t buy anything then companies fall, as we are seeing now. Which leads to a point in movie in which the antagonist, Tyler Durden, talks about how “people buy shit they don’t need”.

I believe this is true. Lets be honest, do I need my iPhone? Probably not. I could have gone with a started flip phone that would not have cost nearly enough, but after all I am a Gadget Freak. So with the cost of these goods comes the fact that we want to upgrade them and carry it with us where ever we go. Lets not even think about losing it. I wont even tell you all the things we have in the Lost & Found at the student center. I will say you can add the value of all of the things you find at it would cost more than the safe they are stored in, but I digress…

I for one cannot stand when I lose or even misplace anything. It drives me insane. I am neurotic with certain things as it is, but if I cannot find something, then I really lose it. Let me paint the picture for you. Last Monday, (B.C. iPhone) I went nuts looking for my phone. I was actually going to be at work on time but I because I could not find this thing, I made myself late. I looked everywhere. Normally when I blog at nights, I am sitting in a very comfortable chair just typing away at my laptop. My phone is always by me. So, I know I had with me Sunday night. I do remember that night hearing a thud. So naturally I thought my phone was under the couch.
Anyways, my Monday morning was spent cursing and tearing this place up. I kept looking under couch expecting to mysteriously appear. It never did out of the 15 times I looked under it. My wife is just sitting on the couch looking at me just waiting for me to return to normal. Finally i said, f**k it and went to work. But, of course, I felt naked without my phone. I thought to myself that this could not be normal. It is just a phone. In my defense, it has all my work email and contacts and stuff like that…but is that the point?

There is one point in Fight Club where Tyler looks over at Jack (the other main character) and says to him, “The things you own, end up owing you.” Needless less to say my phone was in the chair i was sitting in (yes…in the chair…i scratch up my hands getting it through a small gap in the fabric).

I leave you with this quote from Fight Club:

“We’re consumers. We’re by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty — these things don’t concern me. What concerns me is celebrity magazines, television with five hundred channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.”