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If I had five minutes to evacuate--what would I take with me?

If I was told there was a bomb in my building and I had five minutes to evacuate my apartment I’d grab a grocery bag and quickly toss these items into it:

1. A photo of my grandparents, Mom and Pop and me, when I was 15 years old. I learned what love is made of from them. I learned what it is to be kissed on and hugged in arms so tender they felt like God’s arms. I discovered self worth from those two angels in human flesh. Of all the people in my life, they were the ones who made me feel I counted. Honestly, whatever capacity I have to love others came from them.

2. A sentimental, dog-eared, stars in the margin copy of Pat Conroy’s, “The Prince of Tides.” It is a book I have read three times and often return to for its wisdom. It is a harsh, profoundly tragic novel, the story of a family so broken and tortured by such flawed and wounded people that it is sometimes difficult to turn the next page. And yet it is the story of such Herculean courage and endurance that you want at times to stand and applaud Tom Wingo and his brother Luke and their sister Savannah. But most of all it is a book of the most lyrical, dazzling, breathtaking writing I have ever read.

3. A pair of casual Sketchers that I love wearing. They are like tennis shoes, nifty looking and totally comfortable. They make me feel young when I wear them.

4. A picture Ingrid drew of her and me when she was five. We are standing beside a tree. I don’t have any hair but I’m smiling. Across the top of the page are the words: “I love you Poppy, Ingrid,” written with the tiny hand of a child so sweet I could cry when I look at her even now.

5. A really cool poster of the play, “Two Rooms,” by Lee Blessing. It was a play my son Caleb was in at Tim Robbins’ small theater in Santa Monica six or so years ago. I flew out there to see Caleb in the play and it was then that I met my amazing daughter-in-law Kameron. They were not even engaged yet but I knew immediately it was the real thing. She is one of the finest human beings to inhabit the planet Earth. I love her dearly. By the way, the play was incredible and of course Caleb’s performance was remarkable. I wish he’d do more theater.

6. A photo of my son Luke in his house on the ranch he manages in Southeastern Oklahoma. He’s in the kitchen fixing his famous chili. It was just him and me at Christmas two years ago. The weather was freezing outside and perfect for Luke’s cooking. I was on the sofa with Luke’s dogs Maggie and Gus. Luke and I were talking back and forth and I picked up my camera and snapped a shot of him by the oven. He’s in his sock feet and an old sweatshirt and jeans. I love the picture because it captures a side of Luke people rarely see. He’s a rugged, outwardly tough guy. But he is in possession of such a genuine heart, generous and kind, and when open, it spills out warmth you cannot deny.

7. A small collection of poems I have written that carry in them some of my most intense, soulful, intimate feelings. They are reflections, musings, confessions and insights that have come to me when I have longed to understand love, to contemplate its architecture and design, to explore how it builds something substantive, and yet to admit how fragile it is, how easily it can crash to the ground in heartbreaking and brutal debris. Only one person has ever seen these poems. Perhaps some day I will attempt to publish them.

8. My cell phone that carries in it pictures of my grandchildren Avery and Austin. Pictures I often go to when my heart needs lifting and the long miles from them seem too far to bear.

In our day we are often tempted to hoard everything we can cram into the places where we live. Our closets overflow. Our garages bulge. Our lives tilt with our possessions. But if we had to choose what to take and what to leave, hopefully we would carry away the sum total of those things that remind us why we’re here and what we are living for.

© 2012 Timothy Moody

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