In my recent post about travelling back to my hometown Labrador, I mentioned how I was currently reading Janice Holly Booth’s book, Only Pack What You Can Carry. I feel like I’m making a pretty big statement right now, but I also think it’s a 100% true statement to be making: this book changed the way I think about my life.
Only Pack What You Can Carry is Booth’s story about how she gained the courage to travel alone, test her limits, step outside her comfort zone, and truly learn to know herself. The book is separated into five sections: Baggage, Courage, Solitude, Introspection, and Commitment, with Booth recounting her past experiences of travelling, encountering danger and overcoming fears to illustrate each section. I don’t want to give away too much here, because some of her stories are just truly awe inspiring and are worth discovering on your own.
I was halfway through the first chapter of the book when I started to wonder how one person could have so many life altering and exhilarating experiences with such a short period of time. I was also wondering what was going to come next. The narrative leading up to Booth deciding to spend more of her time exploring the world on her own while encountering some of her greatest fears was absolutely fascinating. In reading this book, I had one of those epiphanies that was like, “wait a second. I only get one life? Just this one? I want to do everything. What am I doing right now? Why am I not climbing Mount Kilimanjaro right now or learning how to surf in Hawaii?” It’s a totally scary epiphany to have, but it’s been an immensely valuable one.
Even though I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago, I can’t seem to stop thinking about it. I have a funny feeling that a lot of the things that I’ve said, “Yes, let’s do this” to over the past two weeks would have been a definite “no way” had I not read this book. Already, after just two weeks of reading it, I’ve made some pretty major decisions that I’d been bouncing back and forth on for a little while. Then there’s the small things that I would have typically turned down, like going to a 1 AM concert on a weeknight of an artist that I love, that I will say yes to now. Will I remember those extra 2 – 3 hours of sleep? Or will I remember those 2 – 3 hours I danced with a bunch of strangers under a giant parachute? I think the answer is pretty obvious.
Sometimes it seems like everything in the universe is connected in a really freaky way. Last week, I was super lucky to be able to attend Sarah Blake’s talk at the Halifax Pop Explosion Digital Conference on the Laws of Intention of Desire (the photo above is one of her slides), and it seemed to really connect to Booth’s book. You can be safe, feel mediocre about your life, and have enough money to feel kind of comfortable with yourself. Or you can do something truly extraordinary that you love doing or something that scares the living daylights out of you, go broke doing it, and always feel like you’re on adventure.
Only Pack What You Can Carry made me feel like the things that I had feared before were now challenges or even maybe goals. The only fear that I have now is living out my life wishing I had done something differently and asking myself “What if I had done something else instead?” and never knowing the answer. I feel like I owe it to myself to find out what would happen if I took a big risk, if I did something that I always dreamed of doing.