Wearing black and wrapped in my green Starbucks apron, I absent-mindedly swept the floor and surveyed the new merch on the shelves. The Traveler. A small, thin book with a crescent moon and a tiny person moving alone across a vast expanse.
I had done just that.
It was 2008. I had just ditched the Midwest for the Pacific Northwest, where my best friend from college lived. I loved books, including children's’ books, and I couldn’t quite tell which age this was for. A simple, but thoughtful fable with a fantastic description of time: “big, bulky decades, then the round squishy years, the square, mushy months, triangular, shiny weeks, and raggedy days, tons of silky smooth hours, and crumpled up minutes….loads of itsy bitsy seconds…”
I bought it. Simply for that word picture.
But I read it again tonight. Now in my mid-thirties. And I’m struck by its wisdom. How timely a message for our culture it holds. And how much like the main character I am, especially as an Enneagram 7. (If that’s gibberish to you, it means I get very excited about new things/possibilities and am deeply afraid of missing out in life).
The Traveler is about a boy named Charlie who decides his good and simple life isn’t perfect. So he packs up all his time and travels the world looking for something or somewhere perfect to spend it on. After most of his time has silently slipped away, he makes a decision and learns the importance of spending the time he can’t keep anyway. On an imperfect life of being with and loving others.
I think this story resonates with me because I get tied up in possibilities, in reading, in planning, and I forget we learn best in doing. We love best when we realize love is an action and requires putting another’s interests first. And we live best when we know we won’t find perfection on this side of heaven. But if we spend our time well, we’ll find happiness.
If you are a fan of fables, or if you live in the 21st century, I highly recommend adding this little gem to your collection.