As part of embracing the good life, I decided to start a new series on my blog featuring books. It won’t be book reviews per-say (my dad is much better at those), in part because my days of being an English major seem to be a lifetime away.
What interests me more are the lessons and quotes I take from books. I love reading self-helpy books, but ones that are either written from a research perspective (The Happiness Project and Daring Greatly) or as a memoir (Eat Pray Love). Perhaps not surprisingly, they fit nicely into the theme of my blog and probably have a bit more teeth to it than the Thought Catalog articles I’ve been referencing lately.
And if nothing else, reading is part of a good life (at least for me) and blogging about it holds me accountable (those books aren’t going to read themselves for my 30 Before 30 list…). It can’t hurt, right?
On Friday afternoon I started Packing Light and by Saturday night I’d finished it. I think what drew me in that strongly was how much her thoughts, worries, and even revelations resembled my own (and probably a vast majority of twentysomethings who are trying to figure out what’s next). Getting from Point A to Point B isn’t quite what we thought it would be.
When we’re just starting out, we think everything will become clearer in time. Decisions will get easier, life will become less confusing, everything will “fall into place.” When I was in high school, I thought college would be where my questions were answered. When I left college, I expected the pieces of the puzzle to just “fit” after graduation. After college I kept waiting to get a job, buy a house, or get married. The pieces of the puzzle would start to fit then. But the longer I traveled, the more I realized things don’t get more organized with time. They become less so. (pg. 96)
I was a little nervous in reading this book because the nomadic, backpacking lifestyle has never really intrigued me (though that’s not to say I don’t love traveling). Surprisingly, I found that her road trip experience (the thoughts, struggles, life questions, etc.) was similar to my move and assimilation to Lincoln. What stays behind and what goes with you in the next chapter? What awaits on the other side?
As she was wrapping up her memoir, I was really drawn to the challenges she faced in getting back to her “normal” life:
That was the hard part, if you asked me: waking up to the reality that most of life isn’t glamorous. But when we’re willing to wade through the grit of it, rather than standing on the sidelines hoping not to get hurt, you get to experience Deadwoods, kind words, free sandwiches from those who are moved by what you’re doing, and even luxuries like the Grand Waileas (pg. 237)
The author goes on to talk about the notion that, “I think sometimes when things get hard, too many of us assume we’re moving the wrong direction. Like if we’re doing life right, it’s supposed to be easy.”
That hit closer to home than I thought and I had my own “a-ha!” moment. So many things fell into place when I made the move to Lincoln — the job, great rental house, my dog, even the timeline (the weekend I moved was the only weekend the middle was available and it coincided with the little’s spring bring, unbeknownst to me). I made a substantial life change and it felt like my life was supposed to click, and in some ways it did.
But that’s not to say it’s going to be smooth sailing. Making friends, learning a new job, building a new network and starting to date again are not easy tasks, no matter where I am. What’s important is recognizing that going through those awkward or tough experiences doesn’t mean you’re not on the right path or in the right place. It’s just part of life. You have to let the bad in with the good for it to really mean something.
Being in Missouri, I got to be really good at standing on the sidelines and playing it safe. Like the author, though, it felt selfish to want more. But sometimes you have to take that leap and know you’re on the right path for yourself. This book helped reaffirm that I did just that, and I’ll forever be grateful for it.