Less time for visiting my friends online. Less time for having fun. Less time for playing with my dog.
All because I have too much stuff to get rid of before I sell my house.
How much better off would I be if I just had dog stuff and not so much human stuff?
My Dog Loves Her Stuff
My dog Honey is no minimalist. She loves going to her toy basket and picking out just the right thing to play with.
She has balls, bones, and squeakies.
But if I threw out every dog toy tomorrow, Honey would still be happy.
She’d make her own toys, for one thing. Every stick, pine cone, and pile of snow makes her as happy as the most expensive dog toy available.
And her favorite toy of all is a rather cute, 51-year-old man with light freckles and a weird sense of humor. He does take up some room. But he’s also easy to move for dusting and vacuuming.
Going Through Stuff
By modern standards, my house is small. So we’re clearing out rooms to make them look more roomy to potential buyers. And I’m sorting through everything. It’s amazing how many categories of stuff we have.
Paperwork – In the attic I found old tax records, research notes from an academic article I published in the 1990s, and evidence of old legal squabbles. Reviewing our files brought back painful memories that were still less distressing than tearing up thousands of page before tossing them into recycling bins.
Too ugly to give away – We work hard to keep things out of the landfill. Between composting and recycling, we only put garbage out every other month or less. But we also pile up stuff that’s not good enough to donate, not recyclable, and yet have not yet figured out how to repurpose it.
I have a pile of hideous pillows and a torn pair of jeans that might make a good dog toy. If I could only find some time.
Gifts – I had one family member who was an avid gift giver. While she was alive, I kept a box in the closet labeled “donate” to catch her gifts within minutes after we received them.
Stuff I love but can’t keep – My sister bought me a paper lamp shaped like a puppy. I smile every time I turn it on.
And it goes so well with the other puppy-theme objects in my office.
Useful, but rarely – The wooden tool that pushes dough into my tassie pans is useful–the once every year or two that I decide to bake pecan tartlets for Christmas.
And I love homemade ice cream. But how often do I make it?
I could go on but I’m depressing myself. And every second I spent writing is time I could spend listing stuff on Craigslist or tossing it into the recycling bin.
Thinking About Stuff Like A Dog
The biggest thing I’ve learned about stuff over the years is that it’s not about the stuff. It’s about the meaning we give the stuff.
To a human, an old resume isn’t a piece of paper with words on it. It’s proof of our success and failure. An art kit is an aspiration to creativity. And sentimental objects are reminders of people we’ve loved.
But dogs collect moments instead of stuff.
Dogs are fully alive in everything they do. They don’t need reminders of the past or objects to make them better in the future. They’re just fine they way they are.
And they carry their memories in their hearts.
When a dog reunites with someone she loves, she brings all the love from the past of the relationship into the present in an explosion of joy. And she doesn’t need a yearbook, photo album, or tchotchkes to do it.
Instead of feeling sad about going through my stuff, I’m going to tell myself that with every item I get rid of I’m becoming more like my dog.
And if I come even close to being like Honey, I’ll count it as a big success.
Your Turn: What do you think your dog would teach you about your stuff?