Book: Packing Light by Ally Vesterfelt
Let’s get serious, do you really want a couch and a couple of dressers to keep you from what could be the best experience of your life?
That question catapults Ally Vesterfelt into the journey of her lifetime. If you follow her today, you’d probably be shocked to find that just a few years ago, super-blogger and Prodigal Magazine editor Ally Vesterfelt was a by-the-numbers, no-nonsense school teacher whose life was regimented and predictable.
She had a dream she considered irrational: a 50-state road trip. Crazy, right?
Packing Light is the story of that crazy dream becoming reality. It’s really a memoir of how a young, single woman gave up her safe, comfortable life to follow her crazy, irrational dream. And like all good road trips, Packing Light isn’t really about the trip. It’s about what the trip does to Ally.
Ally weaves her story in and out of her spiritual reflections beginning where all stories do, at home, with the baggage we all accumulate by virtue of being from somewhere. Of that baggage, she reflects,
The only way we know we’re holding it is if we go somewhere. As long as we stay stationary, we’ll never realize how full our arms, and our suitcases, really are. But when we decide to go somewhere, we discover we can’t take it with us.
As someone whose safe, predictable life nearly keeps her from following her persistent but seemingly-impossible dream, Ally returns again and again to the story of the Rich Young Ruler. Like him, she feels trapped in her life, too safe to risk stepping out into the uncertain unknown.
But Ally leaves. And the leaving itself transforms her.
Ally quits her job, leaves her roommate, sells all her stuff and departs on a 6-month journey across the contiguous 48. She makes mistakes. She gets some stuff right, and some stuff wrong. She wants, she has plenty. She loves and loses. And by the time her long road brings her home again, she’s not the same person anymore.
The life that once was so comfortable for her has become strange and small. With that inseparable amalgam of lament and nostalgia anyone who’s ever left knows intimately, she observes
Maybe that’s what happens when you move forward: you sacrifice the possibility that life will ever be the way it was before.
But even more surprising is that Ally’s journey wasn’t quite finished. Even the new normal, the new safe, the new familiar she’d discovered on the road wasn’t the end for her. She had a whole new set of baggage to put down, a whole new journey to undertake.
This is why, even if you’re not a road-tripper, you get Ally’s story.
Just like Ally, just like the Rich Young Ruler, we all have to choose between moving forward and staying where we are. And even after we move, we tend to settle down again, get comfortable again. But God is always calling us forward, always calling us to lay down our lives and the baggage we’ve accumulated and follow Jesus’ crazy, irrational and perfect call into the next new journey.
Packing Light is a beautiful, well-crafted story of one person’s crazy journey. It’ll inspire you to revisit some of your own crazy dreams you’ve packed away, to reconsider your own callings. What more do you want from a book?