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Vignette 15/52. Apocalypse tuna and minimalism.

“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”
― Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

“Mom, can I have the apocalypse tuna with a pack of the apocalypse pasta?”

During the first lockdown in March, a neighbor suggested we stock up. We had been warned before – there was that almost-hurricane that almost hit us four years ago, and then there was the nationwide strike.

The next day, Chris and I walked into the grocery store and started filling the cart with this intention.

He looked at the cart and asked me, “What about paprika?”

I asked back, “What about paprika?”

“Well, should we stock up on paprika? You know how Joey likes to add it to her scrambled eggs.”

“I don’t know that paprika fits the description for emergency items.”

“But it’s Joey.”

I grabbed three packets of paprika.

When we got home, I asked the kids to stock up the pantry. Frankie unpacked the items – two bags of rice, four boxes of pasts, three jars of tomato sauce, tuna, paprika, baking soda (which was on the grocery list anyway), two small packs of toilet paper, and a ton of feminine products.

She said with a look of confusion, “This will last us until dinner except we have pads for maybe two cycles, and you bought three cans of tuna?”

I tell her, “It’s apocalypse tuna, you know, just in case.”

She rolled her eyes and with a hint of sarcasm asked, “For the apocalypse, you bought three cans of tuna for seven of us and enough ingredients for one pasta dinner??”

Me: “And extra rice.”

Frankie: “We are out of rice and toilet paper so we needed to buy anyway.”

Me: “Oh. But at least we have apocalypse tuna.”

The rest of the kids came and inspected our stash and they bursted out laughing.

Mikey picked up the baking soda and in full fake dramatics said, “Oh thanks Mom. I needed that. Phew. Glad you got that so I could make the cookies with our tuna for the apocalypse.”

I realized that prepping isn’t our thing. I can’t. I come from a long line of hoarders. My grandparents lived in a tiny apartment in Toronto but had one closet FULL of paper towels, toilet paper, and toothpaste.

Can I really devote precious house space to apocalypse items? Our rooms have little space for personal items. We only have one office/pantry space for things we need to store – medical supplies, tools and hardware, books, art and office supplies, curriculum, and volleyballs of course. And now of course, the apocalypse tuna.

It’s hard to buy more than we need. Being a minimalist is at odds with this mindset. It felt cognitively dissonant. Marie Kondo and Joey helped changed our lives keeping only things that bring us joy even if they do occasionally smell like mold here in the jungle.

It did inspire interesting conversations. What could you not live without? If you wanted to hoard one thing, what would it be? What skills could you offer if everything shut down that you could exchange for food? Do you think humanity stopped looking after each other with the advent of agriculture and ability to store and own property?

Will this civilization only survive if we trust in humanity that if we are need, we can ask others for an extra roll of toilet paper while we spare a can of tuna?

Yes I believe so. Go ahead and make your apocalypse tuna pasta Frankie.

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