Stewardship of Life


Dis-attachment: Lessons from a 20 pound Puppy with Separation Anxiety

Posted in Just Living by Sharron R. Lucas on July 15, 2010
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Let me ask you a question. How attached are you to your stuff? Chances are you don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about it because we Americans are much more likely to keep on amassing and discarding stuff than we are to contemplate the “state” of our stuff.

I’ve had plenty of time to contemplate the state of my stuff in recent months, considering my family made a 1500 mile move after selling or giving away almost all of our stuff. I thought that I had made great strides with this move; it did feel liberating. Packing your worldly belongings into two cars and a few boxes mailed ahead is an enlightening experience. Yet here’s what I’ve learned.

It is hard to stay enlightened, and it’s difficult to keep things simple in a culture of attachment and consumerism, especially when you are not the only person in the household. You see, initially my daughter looked at this move as an adventure, but it is hard for a teen to remain excited about living with a couple of air mattresses, a few plastic totes, and a couple of chairs. My idea of waiting until we could find suitable furnishings via Freecycle or gleaning was not at all appealing to her. I can understand that. So we compromised.

Turns out the road to consumer hell is paved with compromise. We bought a used washer and dryer, two new mattress sets at a deep discount (even I am squeamish about some things), and an inexpensive little table and chairs. The big issue came with what to do about a couch. We couldn’t find a used one upon which dear daughter would deign to plant her backside, and I was having real issues with buying anything new. Again, we compromised, this time on a really nice and comfortable but reasonable 50% close out floor model couch and love seat combo. We’ve been given a nice table, gleaned a small wardrobe, a lamp, a desk, and a couple of shelving units and purchased a simple entertainment stand and a couple of inexpensive chairs for the porch resulting in a comfortably furnished albeit eclectic apartment. Yes, in less than four months we amassed quite a lot of stuff and began a slippery slide back toward comfortable consumerism.

Oh, but not to worry; the cosmos sent a small agent of mass destruction to teach the Lucas family a valuable lesson in “dis-attachment.” Dexter, the newest arrival to our household and terror extraordinaire, actually belongs to my oldest daughter. She was about to get kicked out of her summer sublet for having him, so in a tearful weekend road trip, I became a foster-dog parent to this one-year-old adorable, mixed-breed Jekyll and Hyde of a puppy. Everything went pretty well for the first couple of weeks, as he reserved his appetite for smaller possessions—a shoe here, article of clothing there, a stuffed animal, organic cotton sheets, and so on.

Evidently we weren’t getting his cosmic message that stuff is just stuff, so on the fourth of July, the birthday of our great consumer nation, Dexter decided to have his own celebration by de-stuffing one of the pillows on the really nice and comfortable but reasonable 50% close out floor model couch. I returned home after watching fireworks across the Chattanooga skyline to find a veritable snow storm of polyester fluff decorating the living floor. We assessed the damage, determined it could be fixed, re-stuffed the pillow and put it on the table before leaving again. Of course, when we returned, the pillow was back on the floor—minus its fluff. This time all the loose pillows were relegated to a temporary home in my daughter’s bedroom behind closed door.

Dexter, however, would not be deterred, and soon chewed two conspicuously-placed holes into one of the seat cushions—leaving a permanent reminder that nothing lasts forever. Yes, the dog is still alive and well, and the sofa has lost its lovely new look. Sometime I’ll look into what an upholsterer might be able to do, but not until the canine appears to have lost his appetite for couch cushions and other consumer goods.

Yes, I was frustrated by the whole chain of events; I won’t lie. However, Dexter made a very good point, although I believe Jesus said it first: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). In the grand scheme of things, I would hate for my heart to be reduced to the equivalent of a microfiber couch cushion or any other temporary possession. People—and even the peskiest of pets—are worthy of the affections of our heart, not the shiny, pretty “stuff” with which we build flimsy walls and castles around us. All the same, Dexter, it sure is a good thing you’re so cute!

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One Response to 'Dis-attachment: Lessons from a 20 pound Puppy with Separation Anxiety'

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  1. stuffed animals are very cute and lovely, i bet that most kids and even women loves them ,`,


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