A little over a year ago, Husband and I bit the bullet and bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner. After living with Sounder’s dog hair in our little apartment and too many blow-ups (from each of us) over the inability of our old vacuum to, you know, vacuum, we decided to see if this whole Dyson thing was really worth all the dollars. Being a prudent gal, I went to Overstock and found a refurbished model for way less than the price of a brand new one at the store. With practically a shiny tear in his eye when the carpet literally changed color with one sweep of the Dyson, Husband said we had made the right decision. I concurred.
We moved into our current home two weeks ago, and the Dyson has gotten great use, as expected. But the one thing that has been bugging me since we’ve been here is the incredibly-difficult-to-reach dog hair from the former owners’ pets that manages to get into the crack between the carpet and the wall. For anyone who has ever owned a pet and has carpet, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Last week I had taken a butter knife and worked to scrape it out so then I could vacuum it up. When I was explaining this to someone the other day, she nodded knowingly and said, “Oh, yes, you need the slim attachment thing.”
How could I have forgotten about the attachments? I have memories of my dad lugging around this crazy olive-green box masquerading as a vacuum, and all of the attachments sat on top of the box, fit in there like a jigsaw puzzle.
It was so heavy, it was really cumbersome, and yet somehow it managed to fit just inside the narrow floor space of the upstairs laundry closet along with the washer and dryer. What a monster.
Anyway, this woman’s comment about “attachment thing” stuck in my head, so I started inspecting the Dyson more closely today. I found the attachments in a plastic bag, where I had once upon a time wisely kept them together. I pulled out the manual to see how to draw more magic out of this instrument. I realized — oh, if only I had known sooner — that our Animal is really two vacuums in one: the main one that does the floors, and then this amazing other extension piece with its own handle that reaches and takes on all the different attachment parts. Armed with this new knowledge, with the Dyson in hand, I patiently attacked the stairs.
Oddly, I found myself feeling reflective as the Dyson did its thing and the stairs started changing colors, as when we first used it in our old apartment. A few realizations came to mind:
1. Worthwhile things are expensive. I don’t mean always in a dollars and cents way, but in a time and effort kind of way. Whether the “thing” is your education, quality relationships with your family and loved ones, a job you care about, your health — these “things” demand that you spend time and attention on them and with them. But it’s worth it.
2. Quality products are durable. At first, I didn’t believe that the Dyson broke in half, essentially, because I was certain that I was going to snap something and feel remorse for ruining it. But when I jerked hard on the extension piece, it came out easily and was ready for use. The “things” I referred to up above? Part of the reason why they are so price-y is because they are built to last. The imitation, lower grade products work for a while, but then they break and need to be replaced with something better anyway. Healthy, nurturing relationships with ourselves, with our best friends, and with spouses and significant others are meant to endure anything and everything. That doesn’t excuse us from taking good care of them, but they withstand a lot more than we realize they can (if we’ve invested wisely, of course).
3. Good products have unexpected dimensions. I read all the reviews. I could write my own testimonial about the Dyson. I knew it was worth every penny. But today, even after using it happily for a while now, I learned there was more to it than meets the eye. In real life, I think we often underestimate other people and what their real potential may be… and then they surprise us with a new achievement, a new career path, a new life plateau. Worse, I think we too often underestimate ourselves and forget that with one simple shift in the way we think or one change of habit, we can discover new dimensions of ourselves.
Vacuuming has to be one of my least favorite chores because it never seems like I can do it often enough to keep the floor satisfactorily clean, especially with having a dog. However, this afternoon it turned out to be one of the most random meditation sessions of my life. I’ll never look at our Dyson — or any of our other useful household appliances — the same way again.