I just finished reading Clara Bensen’s No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love & Wandering. It is a travel memoir in which Clara and her not-quite-official boyfriend Jeff take off on a three week trip without any luggage. That’s right – 1 outfit and only what their pockets (and a small purse for Clara) could hold. Not only that but they didn’t pre-book anything except for flights. Definitely not a mode of travel for the faint of heart. Throughout the trip they refer to it as “the experiment” which indicates that even they weren’t completely certain about the outcome.
Of course like most travel memoirs (or the good ones at least) it’s not just about the places they went but their metaphorical journeys as well. Clara writes with openness about debilitating anxiety and fear that plagued her for several months prior to the time period in which she meets Jeff and embarks on the experimental travel style. Part of her path to overcoming her anxiety was a conscious choice to appreciate the things that brought her joy and to follow where the Universe led her while letting go of expectations and outcomes.
The minimalist style of travel – NO bags? At all? – is what grabbed my attention at first but as I got into the book it became secondary to a larger theme of serendipity. Clara and Jeff place their trust in the Universe that things will happen as they should and that they really don’t NEED much. During their travels Jeff meets up with a professor at Oxford regarding the study of coincidences and the calculation of their probability. From old friends just happening to be in the same part of the world in which they are wandering through to an abandoned sweater turning up just as Jeff feels a chill, lucky chances abound. This is where the book lined up with other things I’ve been pondering lately in a rather… serendipitous way.
Last weekend I took a little road trip to transport a couple of rescue dogs and had my phone plugged into the car’s audio system to use my GPS and listen to No Baggage on audiobook. It’s important to note that when my GPS interrupts my audiobook it will pause for the interruption then go back a few seconds to repeat the previous portion of the book.
So I’m driving along a farm country road that zig-zags to make a 90 degree turn left and then another turn right almost immediately and, naturally, each of these segments of road has a different name which my GPS needed to announce for me. This meant that my book was interrupted 4 times in quick succession and it just so happened that one complete sentence was repeated perfectly 4 times. The sentence was a quote from a person the author had met in her travels.
The quote? “The Universe gives nothing to those who do not trust.”
Ok, Universe. I hear you! I’m not sure traveling without even one change of clothes is what’s in store for me but I’m open to the possibilities. Here’s to serendipity and adventure!
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