All that you can’t leave behind.

What a warm-your-cockles shot. Someone who has lost almost everything, we assume, and she’s ecstatic at finding her daughter’s graduation certificate.

It’s fair to say we were all touched by the enormity of the tragedy in Japan early last year. A picture like this should touch us all, just as pictures of the tsunami destruction did.

It prompted me to recollect an old school bus trip. All was bouncing along well on this journey home from school. I’d exhausted my food supply and was probably reading a book. Reading quietly, I reckon. Or playing the game where you pair up and flick each other’s foreheads until one can hack it no longer. Highbrow stuff, I know, but I’m still going to boast that I often took out the title in that particular courageous pursuit. I was not so nifty with the game where you have to hold your hands together and try to move them quickly before they are slapped.

But I digress. There were only a handful of us left on the bus this day; unsurprising as I was the last stop. We were stopped by a neighbour who was checking the kids at the next house were not on the bus.

The house ahead was burning down.

We drove on to have a look as most morbid bus drivers do and because that was the only route. The heat permeated the glass (I didn’t know it did that) and the blaze was a mighty beast as it consumed these people’s lives. No-one was hurt, but I later heard the two young girls had been particularly upset at the loss of their teddy bears. It was an awful sight. I remember having a little cry as we drove on, leaving the anguished parents and local fire brigade behind.

But don’t despair. The story had a happy ending. New teddy bears came along and they built a new house. A much nicer house actually, which they deserved after the trauma.

This picture and that story got me thinking about what I’d hate to lose in such a tragedy.

If I’ve been practising yoga regularly I can be a bit of a wanker about this. I’ll happily pretend material possessions have no meaning to me. I’m very live-in-the-moment about it. I can do without them, easy.

Yeah right.

I reckon I’d be upset about my iPod – what a cliché! But, if I had spent as much time cosied up with a person as I have with my iPod, I’d probably be proposing to them on this very leap day. (I’m enormously upset to have no-one to suggest matrimony to today. Now, I have to wait another four years for the chance.)

I do have a few favourite books that I’m attached to. I’d like to say it’s Kite Runner or Cloudstreet that I’d miss, but it’s more like Girls Night In one and two.

Photos are the obvious choice.

So what would I miss the most? It’s none of those – and it certainly wouldn’t be my graduation certificate.

It’d be the big world map on my wall. My dream machine. That baby has taken me places! I guess you can get a dirty old map anywhere (actually mine is laminated and really very big and, it’s just cool), but that map has value to me. Sentimental value.

Yuck. Not very live-in-the-moment.

OK, I’m sure I could do without all the junk (and please refer to my garage sale post for more on my junk), but look at this lady’s face. How great to have things that we can love. How wonderful to have a map and some chick-lit that I want to hang on to.

The key then, is remembering to take pleasure from them. Or something like that.


This photo won first prize in the People in the News, Stories category at the World Press Photos. To see some of the other great snaps go here

Photograph courtesy Yasuyoshi Chiba, AFP/World Press Photo

2 thoughts on “All that you can’t leave behind.

    1. Trav!
      Thanks man. I had some pretty heady inspiration for this blog from some dude with a strange moniker. Naviguru or something!!
      Great to hear from you. X

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