By: Anya Alvarez
Recently, I left my puppy alone in my house for two hours. After a couple incidents where she got into things she shouldn’t have, I barricaded her into the kitchen. I left her bones and plenty of toys to chew on, thinking that would occupy her during my time away. Confidently, I walked out the door.
When I returned later that day I was greeted by a happy puppy. But, something didn’t seem right. As I removed the barricade, I walked into my bedroom and saw not one, not two, and not even three or four, but FIVE shoes torn and shredded. I looked at Copper in disbelief. How could the sweet, innocent and adorable puppy looking straight into my eyes do such a thing?
Three of the five shoes were pairs that I had worn several times (all pairs were either brown or beige). The other two were a pair of black wedges I’ve worn twice in the last year and another pair of wedges that have probably see the surface of a sidewalk once in two years.
Since I’ve had Copper, I have lost many good pairs of shoes to her devilish ways. I had to say goodbye to a beaded shirt, a leather belt, and I once came home to a destroyed comforter and couch. While her destruction may say something about my dog training skills (she is a complete angel when with me, however), Copper has made me realize just how the items she has destroyed don’t hold much value.
I have certainly felt angst and frustration, but the only time I’ve had visceral reactions to her destruction is when she destroyed things that were irreplaceable. When she decided that chewing up my journal was okay, I nearly lost it. When she chewed up a book that was given to me as a gift from someone dear to me, I felt despair. Those items had real value to me.
I pondered this: How could it be that her destroying $500 worth of shoes over a book that probably cost $15 create such a different type of emotion? As I mentioned before, three pairs of the shoes she chewed were all in same brown color group and were all the same style of shoe. Did I really need a beige, tan, and nude colored shoe? No. And truthfully, I almost felt gratitude towards my dog for being a crazed shoe-chewer. Of all the shoes she has chewed, not once have I felt the need to try to replace them.
I have been wanting to clean out my closet. I did this a little over a year ago and remember how much better I felt with less stuff. I couldn’t even tell you now which dresses or pairs of jeans I donated.
We often have too much of an attachment to stuff. Whether it’s a fear of letting go or inability to imagine our lives without those things, we hold on. Even though I had wanted to clean out my space again, I kept putting it off. Shoes that had never been worn, plates that had never been used, and dozens of books I bought covered every corner of my house. I never made the time to sit down and sift through my items to see what I could live without. My dog started that process for me.
It made me curious to see if others were experiencing the same letting go process, as well. And that’s when I ran across this great project called “Living Lightly.” Susan Vogt made a commitment to give one thing away a day for 365 days. She documented her journey and throughout the year she estimated that she ended up giving away 1,200 items that she “barely missed.” At the end of her year of giving she realized there was even more to give away. From toiletries, electronics, CDs, books and purses, Susan found that by de-cluttering her life she felt less stressed because she didn’t have all these things taking up space.
Studies have shown that materialism and hoarding is not good for people’s health. We always want what we don’t have, but however, oftentimes we don’t miss things when we’ve lost them.
George Carlin once joked, “All your house is, is a pile of stuff with a cover on it!” For most people, that’s no exaggeration.
For me, that was the truth.
twoday magazine wants to know: What are you willing to give up to de-clutter your life? Share with us on our Facebook page.
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