I think it’s easy to underestimate the power that reading the right book at the right time can have on your life. It doesn’t happen with every book, but when it does happen it’s absolutely unmistakable. The words leap off the page and sink deep into your heart, inspiring, uplifting, and changing. I recently had the pleasure of one such life-changing read. No Baggage by Clara Bensen. I almost missed out on it too, nearly passing it along to my sister who is frequently struck with wanderlust. A travel memoir seemed much more appropriate for her tastes than for my homebody self.
Some instinct kept it in my possession and I let it sit on a shelf for a few months before finally carving out the time to sit down and read it. I was intrigued by the premise; a young woman agreeing to travel abroad with only a small purse, alongside a man she’d been dating for a month. It sounded like my worst nightmare, to be quite frank, and I wondered what kind of person would possibly agree to such an insane idea.
I was surprised to find that Clara wasn’t the outgoing risk-taker I assumed she’d be. She’s a deep-thinker, melancholy and introverted and recovering from a debilitating bout of anxiety and depression. I found her narrative to be deeply compelling, her honestly and vulnerability resonating strongly. The steps she took, both literally and figuratively, were attempts to grow and achieve something that had previously been outside her grasp.
While I would never choose to traipse a foreign country with nothing more than the clothes on my back and a tiny purse with a man I barely knew, I admired Clara’s take-charge attitude and radical pursuit of health and happiness. Her journey inspired me to take my own leap of faith, (an admittedly much smaller one than hers,) but one that has taken me in a beautifully unexpected direction.
No Baggage might not impact your life the way it did mine -- after all one person’s right book, right time, isn’t necessarily someone else’s -- all the same I highly recommend it. Trust me, you won’t regret it.