Robby’s Story

We love sharing stories of regular people choosing to live a minimalist life. Recently, Robby shared his story with us through our share your story page. We hope it encourages you in your minimalist journey.

My story begins with a flood in November of 2001. I was living in Austin, TX, with my girlfriend (now my wife) when a terrible thunderstorm dropped something like a foot of rain over an hour on the city.

When I got home, the power was out and my girlfriend and I lit some candles, made a few margaritas, and played cards until we dozed off on the couch.

Depending on where you are, floods don’t happen right away. Runoff gathers into streams, streams gather into creeks, and creeks overflow their banks hours after the rain has stopped. We woke up to the sound of our neighbor pounding furiously on the door.

“The water is up to our door! We’re getting out of here!”

We both jumped up. She scooped up our dog, I grabbed the keys, and we got into her truck. The water was a few inches up the tire. I was driving and I rolled down the window as we passed the house of our next-door neighbors. They were watching the water rise with a flashlight and I asked them what they were going to do.

They said they had a second floor and were going to wait it out there but added, “We’ve lived here twenty years and we’ve never seen it this high before.” I don’t know if it was reason or panic, but I hit the gas and left our home behind.

As I turned the corner to find a street not yet covered by standing water, I realized that everything we owned was back there. The only things we could be sure would make it past the flood was the two of us, our dog, and the truck.

And it didn’t matter. Everything truly important to us was in that truck. We drove away with no reservations and no regret. There was nothing in that truck that I would trade for anything else in the world, no possession left behind for which I would risk our lives.

When we returned to the house, almost everything that was touching the ground or vulnerable to humidity was ruined. Which…was almost everything we owned.

In our case, we were fortunate. We had flood insurance and we were able to quickly (if you count six months as quickly) rebuild our home. Now we own things: clothes, furniture, electronics, kitchen utensils, etc., but nothing, no thing, has ever seemed all that important since that night.

It’s a shame that it took a natural disaster to teach me what was truly worth valuing in my life.

Thank you for sharing your story with us Robby. And for reminding us again to value the truly important things in this life.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    Hope this comment doesn’t post twice – crashed during first attempt.

    This is a great story. It seems that it is usually a crisis that moves us towards minimalism. It doesn’t have to be a natural disaster like Robby experience but maybe something health or financial related.

    It is something (big or small) that make us say, “enough is enough.”

  2. says

    Maybe everyone of us should create our own flood disaster in our minds to see our possessions this perspective. Then we’ll realize that we already have what we really need and focus more on that from now on. No need for a real flood.

  3. says

    That’s a terrific story from Robby. Thank you for sharing. I understand ’cause it took a tragic loss in my own life nineteen months ago for me to see what is truly important in this life, and it isn’t stuff.

  4. maryann says

    “Everything truly important to us was in that truck. We drove away with no reservations and no regret. There was nothing in that truck that I would trade for anything else in the world, no possession left behind for which I would risk our lives.”

    I love this part.

    We have a weekend cabin in upstate NY, 20×10 feet. Bed, futon sofa, table & chairs. Fireplace, TV. Outdoor grill, outdoor faucet, outhouse. 2 adults and 2 boys. We have the best times there and we have nothing there. It makes you think about what’s important…

  5. says

    Thank you for sharing your amazing story! I am just thankful that it turned out as well as it did. You made it out safely without any injury, and were able to replace all of your stuff. Fortunately, it wasn’t a death, serious injury, or other loss that helped you come to this realization!

  6. nyxmoxie says

    hey that’s awesome, you guys were smart about it, possessions can’t be replaced and people can’t…we’re not our possessions…you can always rebuild and start over again.

  7. Heather says

    Very timely. I am from New Braunfels but living up in TN right now…both areas that just recently flooded. I am amazed at the community spirit of “It can all be replaced but a life can’t” attitude that brings people together in a disaster. It was a crisis like yours that got me thinking a few years ago what is REALLY important. I have a 5 minute bug out plan, if needed. The hubby and kiddo, the pets, the small fire box, grab some clothing, pics, purse and laptop, if I have time. Other wise, just people, pets, purse, laptop and vehicle.

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