The things that are important

Two somethings happened to me last night that made me once again reflect on this truth:

The things that are important are not things.

Something that happened #1: Panicked phone call from my sister at 10pm.

Let me set the scene for you.

It’s 10pm. I am in bed, already falling asleep. It has been a long and tiring Monday. I hear my phone vibrate on the nightstand and look to see who it is. It’s my sister. At 10pm. Already, I am a little on edge because it’s pretty late. But then I think, it’s only 8pm in Nicaragua, maybe she just wants to chat.

Nope. It’s not chatting. She is sobbing uncontrollably on the phone. I can’t even hear English. Or Spanish, for that matter. There are no words, only sobs.

I immediately tense up and ask “What’s wrong?!” Co-human rolls over, obviously concerned that my sleepy-time fuzziness has descended into palpable worry and horror.

I can finally make out some words, “I’m a terrible person!” My first thought, honestly, was that she had accidentally killed a lizard. She posted earlier in the day that she accidentally hurt a gecko’s foot. We have animal empathy.

I got the story from her. She was sitting at a table with the laptop computer that my patner had loaned her for the trip. She got up from the table. Her foot tangled in the cord. The computer went down. As did her coffee cup, spilling on the computer’s keyboard. By her description, she “ninja kicked” the cup away, but there was definitely coffee on the laptop. Complete strangers in the room with her took control, placed the laptop in a giant container of rice (how Nicaragua is that? I love it), and one girl was even rubbing her back while she had a breakdown in the corner.

None of this is funny. But I couldn’t help but laugh. As I was telling her it was okay, my boyfriend began to comprehend what had happened and I felt him laughing too. This laughter was 100% grade-A relief.

Let me break this down for you: The last time this girl called me sobbing from a Spanish speaking foreign country, it was NOT about a computer. She had been hurt and was scared and terrified and far from home.

She could throw a thousand laptops into a volcano and it wouldn’t even matter to me as long as she was safe. (The ecological impact of throwing all that stuff into a volcano makes me a little disappointed, but still). The point is that the only, ONLY, ONLY thing that needs to come home 100% intact and safe from this 3-month trip to Nicaragua is my sister.

As a bonus, the laptop is fine. Well, the screen is cracked. As is the screen of the digital camera we sent with her. But you know what’s fine and happy? She is.

Something that happened #2: Bad dream

I had a dream last night that I was driving home at night and there were firetrucks and police cars all down my street. Houses were on fire. Dream-me thought, “Wow, I hope our house isn’t on fire” but when I got to it, it was burning. And I will be totally honest, I was half flooded with relief that we might be out of our underwater mortgage and half panicked because I didn’t know if my boyfriend and the cats were safe.

Things I didn’t care about: computers, books, furniture, paints, pictures, birthday cards, money, etc.

Things I cared about: one human and four cats. Were they okay? That was the driving force of my dream, as I tried to run toward the house and the firemen stopped me, like they do in TV shows. I frantically tried to find them.

They were okay. And of course they were okay when I woke up as well, because it was just a dream.


What have I learned from these two somethings that happened yesterday? I have learned that stuff is seriously not important. Stuff can make you happy, if you like it. But stuff isn’t what matters. People matter. Love matters.

I cannot wait until my sister is home and I can hug her close to me and remind myself (and her) of how important it is that she is in my life every day. I’ll also try to hug the cats, but I don’t think they’ll appreciate it as much.

9 thoughts on “The things that are important

  1. Ah Caitlin, I did miss your voice when you didn’t post! All my favourite writers seem to be stopping blogging at the moment and I’m so glad you are not one of them. This post was just great. It’s funny how easily we forgot the important things isn’t it?

    I’ve been experimenting lately by every time I get worked up (for good or bad) about someTHING rather than someONE (e.g. spilt cup of tea, traffic jam, gorgeous shoes for cheap on eBay) I pause and say to myself ‘this is not really important’. I think it is starting to help me remember what really matters. Maybe I should try taking it further and pointing out the things that are important too (time with loved ones, fluffy hugs [reluctant or otherwise], awe inspiring moments of natural wonder etc.).

    Thanks for making me think about this more!

  2. I just realized you had still been blogging when I got an email about your most recent post. I’ve been missing some of my favorite blogs due to some glitch in the system.

    Anyway, I’m glad your sister was fine. How scary to get a call like that and hear her so upset. Your dream was very telling. Yes, it showed that you have eliminated the need to have all your things to be happy, but it also says to me that you (maybe) feel overwhelmed with the cost of your home?

    1. It is a bit overwhelming. We aren’t sure this is our “forever home” so it’s rough to have to put money into it. But some things, like mold in the bathroom, have to be addressed for health reasons. Same with the AC that needed replaced, we had to do it because of my partner’s asthma – no way we could have just had it all hot and humid in the house. Thankfully we are able to save up and pay cash for these repairs and improvements but it’s still a lot of money that I’d like to spend toward debt repayment. We’re on track to pay off $10,000 of debt this year though, which is awesome! I want to double it next year 🙂

      Home ownership is definitely a different ball game than renting.

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