Allison Vesterfelt’s book Packing Light put into words many of my struggles over having too much. It’s a great read for many reasons. It prompts a great deal of introspection. How does one learn to live with less? How do you know when you’ve accumulated too much? This applies not only to possessions, but also to relationships and experiences.
I know I have accumulated too much stuff. Much of it has a permanent residence in our basement, packed away in boxes. Dishes and appliances and gadgets we don’t have room for in the main part of the house (if we haven’t used it in three and a half years, do we really need it?) I hate the idea of being weighed down by all these things. Will I use them someday, will I not? Who cares? They’re stressing me out and so not worth it.
I really hate the idea of my child being weighed down and obsessed with possessions as he grows up. I recently read a mom’s blog posting about taking away all of her children’s toys, and I wanted to shout, way to go, sister! I hope I would have the guts to do that for the right reasons. She says her daughters soon adapted and earned back one or two toys, and they actually prefer having less stuff to worry about. They use their imaginations more as they play. They don’t have to spend forever cleaning up the clutter because there isn’t much. I feel like I could be the same way if I’d give up a lot of the junk in my home and life–freer, more creative, more contented.
On the road
Packing Light chronicles the author’s fifty-state road trip. That alone was enough to hook me into reading it. Road trips are amazing! While the book doesn’t sum up every single state and its highlights, it gives the reader a taste of the trip, letting the imagination fill in the blanks. Reading it made me consider where I want to go–I’d absolutely love to see parts of the country I’ve never yet explored. Boston and Philadelphia, for fascinating history. Colorado, for whitewater rafting and hiking and mountain biking and all that beauty. Sequoia National Park because holy cow, those trees are unbelievable! Ahh, I can hardly wait for my next chance at a good road trip!
This book stirs up in me a desire to live boldly, to not settle for less than what God has in store for me. Vesterfelt quit her teaching job and left all of that security behind to travel for six months. Maybe for me, living out a bold faith doesn’t have to mean quitting my day job and driving cross-country. Then again, maybe it will someday! Who knows? For now, it means taking risks where I am–forming and strengthening relationships no matter how temporary they may be, trying new lessons in my classroom knowing some will fail, starting a blog and letting friends and strangers into this inner world that might be surprising.
It’s about listening to that quiet voice inside saying, You don’t need all this. Letting go of anything that hinders my walk with Christ, anything that replaces Him in my life.
One final thing I love about this book: the author encourages readers to share the book. The final page even has space to write your name before passing it on to someone else. It’s totally in keeping with the nature of the book–sharing things and experiences rather than being controlled or held back by them.