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  • I was 5 our apartment house burned down. Momma was yelling for us to settie down and go to bed it was after 10pm but I was chasing my little sister in order to avoid doing just that. My sister Faith, attempting to hide from me, opened up the closet door that housed the 3 flat building's large water heater,flames shot out.
    The rest of that story is a maze of fear, displacement, sadness, uncertainty, discovery, getting to ride over & over in the hotel elevator where the Redcross put us, and loss. Lots and lots of all kinds of loss.
    When we moved to a new apartment. At night, I would take all my toys and best clothes (some of which were recovered from the fire and had that "scary fire stench, which could never be completely laundered away), I would lay a sheet from my bed on the floor and pile atop it, the accumulation of all the 'eathly belongings' in my 5 years of life and tie the sheet up in a hobo's pouch. I would place this big pouch next to the front door. I was ready now, for the next fire, it was not going to claim all my stuff, this time. I did this every nite for a while and then off & on till I was near 7.
    The lesson I took from the fire was "guard your stuff because losing everything sucks".
    Now more than 40 years later, there have been many" fires" in my life. Many times when I was just settling down in comfort while a crisis I had no understanding or thought of, waited in a nearby closet. There have been to many times I've cried for things lost and dragged weights around, that I didn't need only so as not to lose something. Living on the edge is great for rock & roll icons to sing about but it's not the most fun in real life however if your lucky you get to ride an elevator. You know like someone said whose name I have lost: "Change is the only consistent thing in life."
    Now the closet door feels hot. I can smell the hint of the fire in my clothing, or is that just the impending sense of change, that is causing me worry again?
    I was wrong when I was 5, I thought the best job in the world would be something where you get to use a cash register also I was wrong about my life's lesson from the fire: "guard your stuff".
    The most important lesson people learn if they are lucky, happens every day in Nursing Homes as it does in fires, floods, divorces and other 'natural' disasters: Stuff is not important. Yeah the most important lesson in my life, I can say it in 4 words and it's nothing new in the universe. John Lennon sang "imagine no posessions" but here the really hard part "I wonder if you can?".
    I think I can, now.
    Yes many world religions tell us stuff is not important, oh just look at Buddisim over there gloating at how "unburdened" it apperars...whatever! We all learn in our own time if we are open to it, so I wil not feel stupid for not geting this lesson's full and immense content until now, I have been busy accumulating stuff to slowly painfully throw away or have taken, stuff that I will one day NOT give a crap about when I lose it all in the next fire.
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