Why is the bed trembling?
That was my first thought when I sadly opened my eyes on October 15, 2013.
I stared at the shelf on the other side of my bed before I realized that everything was shaking.
A second passed. I was hyper awake.
I looked at my sister on the other side of the bed we shared. We were silent, but the sound was deafening: the cracking of the plaster on the ceiling, the wobbling window panes, the crashing of things that broke around us.
Another second passed. We rolled away from each other and dived onto the floor. I pulled my quilt with stiff fingers and ducked under it.
"Where is the dog?" I shouted.
"I dont know!" My sister's panicked voice was muffled by all the noise.
I felt something dig under my blanket. I sighed in relief when my Shih Tzu climbed onto my lap.
"He is with me!" The door opened.
"Girl? Whe -"
"Mom, go hide!" my sister screamed.
I made myself as small as I could. The sound of falling debris came in. My dog trembled on my stomach.
Please stop. God, please stop it.
The deadliest Filipino earthquake in more than 20 years had a magnitude of 7.2. That and more than 4,000 aftershocks for the rest of the year meant hundreds of casualties and deaths.
These days were surreal: sleeping in day clothes at the front door in case another quake started, crouched at my desk in the office during an aftershock and heard that people I knew had been injured had died.
And the cleaning: sweep out jagged pieces of glass and tiles, repair doors after they fall, put everything back in place …
Then I saw my dog's bed.
It was buried under uneven broken glass and a fine white dust.
This plate was a gift for a 7-year-old me: a porcelain blot with a yellowed photo of me in the middle. When I passed it, I winced at how awkward I looked with my red face and hair in my narrowed eyes.
I've wanted to get rid of it for over a decade, but felt guilty just thinking about throwing it away.
My little dog was usually in bed until 9 a.m. Thank God he ran to me during the quake.
I immediately held it to my chest after seeing the damage. What a close call!
I was suddenly angry.
My dog was almost hurt because of this ugly plate. I didn't even want to keep it and see what it almost did!
This anger cleared up. I studied the house with new eyes: the broken shampoo bottles that I had stored for a discount, the free mug that was now divided in the middle, the crumpled clothes that didn't fit me, but still had to be washed and put away. ..
Things I rarely used. I didn't even like some. All have to be repaired, wiped and put away.
Because you own something? It's about engagement.
It's not just about spending the money to buy it. After that, it needs to be serviced so that you can continue using it. That means storing, dusting, washing, folding and so on. And if it is worn, it must also be repaired.
That's a lot of actions related to owning things. And repairing and cleaning all of my things after the earthquake made that clear to me.
Then my next thought: What if I had less stuff than this happened?
The house would still have fallen on my ears, right. But cleaning would have been easier and faster. And my family would have been less likely to get hurt.
What was important to me, surrounded by rubble?
What had interested me under my covers and waited for the tremors to stop?
My belief in God, my family, my dog, my friends.
That was a short list.
What else did I need?
Food and water and money to buy from the work that filled me.
A home to live in.
Less clothes than I thought. The earthquake had locked my closet, and the clothes I needed to open for the week still made me realize that.
Maybe three pairs of shoes.
Less than ten books.
Two or three pockets.
Everything else was mess.
The poorly fitting clothes and shoes, the unread books, the unused products in my medicine cabinet that were now stacked in my sink.
I could do without the frills that fell on my shelves. (Yes, with. The shelves fell off too.) They would become debris that now have to be thrown away anyway.
And definitely not this ugly plate.
I consider this earthquake the turning point that led me to a simple life. Standing in the middle of a ruined house with my dog in my arms was when I accepted that my hoarding wasn't doing me a favor in difficult times.
I wanted something better:
A life full of things that were important to me, including the things that I loved and used.
A life in which my things enriched my everyday life instead of pushing myself out of my own home.
A life that was intended.
It's 2020 now and I'm still pushing forward. It was a process to get here, and there will be more steps and stumbling blocks as I approach a life less.
But I've made progress and I'm grateful. Especially since the comfortable home in which I now live gives an already tense COVID-19 season peace and no stress.
Waking up in the middle of an earthquake woke me up to what minimalism could do for me. I hope that you continue to create a life full of meaning and simplicity with me.
About the author: Daisy is an ex-hoarder and restful workaholic who helps people regain their time, clear their homes and make room for life at Simple Not Stressful.