I am working toward a more minimalistic lifestyle. Less stuff, less clutter, less busyness. More Jesus, more time to do what I love, more time with the people I love. In this journey toward less, I have read books, blog posts, and articles to help me reshape my thinking. One truly life-altering book was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which I honestly reviewed here. You can read more about the book’s content in my review, but the bottom line of the book is this: keep only items that spark joy, get rid of everything else.
Though I have not officially “KonMari’d” my home (read either the book or my review for an explanation of that term!), I have really started to interact with my stuff differently. I feel like I now look at every single item critically, like does this spark joy? do I need this?
So, when I was dusting my bookshelf last week, I naturally thought about the books and other items it stores and wondered whether any of them would be better off in someone else’s hands. As I was scanning the book titles haphazardly, I noticed my little red double-decker bus perched on the edge of the shelf, in front of a cluster of books. I picked it up, just a small metal toy, and ran my fingers over it, thinking I should really get rid of this old thing. Even as I had that thought, memories rushed through my mind, the small figurine still in my hand.
You see, when I was younger, I played percussion in my middle school’s band. Each Spring, the eighth grade band members had the opportunity to travel to Europe as part of a school trip. Though I am not at all musically inclined (seven years of piano lessons and I can only play chopsticks…kind of), I stuck with percussion throughout middle school so that I could go on the trip. And when the time came around to sign up, I did, thrilled to go to England, Iceland, and Wales on a 10 day tour, even though I would have to lug my percussion set along and play multiple concerts while abroad! My best friends signed up, too, and none of us could wait for our first overseas adventure.
While abroad on this eighth grade band trip, I bought that silly toy bus in a London souvenir shop. I remember thinking that it was likely a waste of money (I’ve always been pragmatic), but that it would be worth it to have it sitting on my shelf in my bedroom at home, where I could admire it and remember how special the trip had been. So, I “splurged” and picked it up, happily paying the cashier in pounds (so exotic!), and gleefully listening to her gorgeous accent.
And that little red double-decker has come with me, from my middle school bedroom in the basement of my parents’ house, to my first upstairs room (after they put on an addition), to my second upstairs room (a.k.a. the tiniest room in the world, which I took once I went off to college so my brother would have a normal sized room), to my freshman dorm room, to my sophomore on-campus apartment, to my junior and senior year off-campus apartment, back to Maryland after graduation, then across the country to my first apartment in Austin, then my second apartment in Austin, and now, here, in North Texas, it sits on the bookshelf in Riley and my first apartment together.
All of these memories flooding my thinking, I once again came to the conclusion that I should probably donate this little toy or give it to my nephew. But in an unexpected wave of sentimentality, I just couldn’t. I tried, but I could not get rid of my double-decker bus. A huge pile of Good Will donations, and I could not bring myself to put this toy in the pile, amongst several ill-fitting sweaters and a few picture frames I no longer use.
Why? Because that goofy double-decker bus souvenir represents the bigger-than-me sense of adventure that God has breathed into my soul.
That bus represents the awe-inspiring experience of playing the Welsh national anthem in a cavernous art museum in Wales on my eighth grade trip, looking up from my snare drum to see old men, hats in their hands, tears streaming down their faces.
It represents applying to and attending an out-of-state school because I knew, I just knew, that I needed to fly the nest and start over.
Those tiny black plastic wheels? Yeah, they’re the nervous yes to studying abroad alone for six months in Spain…a favorite adventure that taught my heart to stand and be brave and that loneliness only exists when I’m disconnected from my Maker.
That red double-decker is my waking up from a dream, declaring to my college roommate that I was going to abandon my already-made summer plans to be a camp counselor instead, which is what I was told while I slept.
It represents moving to the middle-of-nowhere Texas to be that camp counselor, where I met a boy who I’d date for a couple of years and then another man–the one I’d marry forever.
The chipping red paint is moving closer to that first boy I mentioned, up and leaving everything I knew and settling in the beautiful city of Austin, Texas.
It’s starting a job in marketing and then getting laid off just six months later, but knowing with everything that I am that God had a better plan for me.
It’s praying for a puppy when I had no idea how to raise one, and then falling in love with my greatest birthday gift ever, my heartbeat with four legs.
It’s hearing from God he’s not the one, and thinking but I just moved here to be closer to him–but saying okay, God and ending it anyway.
That bus is the shaky yes when a guy from camp I hardly knew asked me on a coffee date, and then a phone call to my best friend on the way home declaring he’d be my husband.
It’s dating him for just nine months before getting engaged because though the saying is when you know, you know, it’s really when God tells you, you know. And He told me.
Those squeaky wheels are resigning from a job I love in Austin because my husband isn’t in Austin and the Lord asked me to move to where he is, and not the other way around.
It’s walking down the aisle on my wedding day, no nerves and no fear, because adventure is a beautiful thing and next to following Jesus, Riley is my greatest adventure.
It’s deciding to pursue my dreams and not listen to the loud societal expectations of more-more-more money or climbing higher-higher-higher on the corporate ladder.
It’s this daily choice of whispering Yes, Jesus in a world that yells no.
All my life’s adventures, all my Jesus-loaned bravery, all the courage I faked, and then claimed…it’s all wrapped up in a tiny old metal double-decker London bus. I don’t know whether I’ll keep it forever–it is, after all, just a hunk of metal. But for now, it will remain in sight because not only does it spark joy, but it reminds me that God has told me time and time again, your life will be an adventure, Blair, I promise. I’m clinging to that beautiful promise and proclaiming the prayer of anything: I pray that I would do anything for my God. I pray for an open mind and heart, that I would be willing to move wherever He calls me, no matter what logistical nightmare arises. That I would believe in the work He’s doing in me, and that I can (and should) dream BIG dreams because my God does great-big-huge and He is more than able.
I’m so thankful for my little red toy and the way it screams adventure is waiting for you from its spot on the bookshelf. So, for now, it stays.
// Do you have anything that carries heavy meaning or great significance? I’d love to hear about it.
Beautiful post! Totally brought tears to my eyes.
Blair Lamb says
Aw, thank you for reading! I teared up writing it–God is so good!!
Madilene Lake says
Loved this!! It struck such a cord with me – all of those God “aha” moments have a funny way of lining up to the greater plan, even when have no idea what’s happening in the moment. How wonderful! My item is a charm bracelet. It’s kind of cheating because it represents a lot of memories in one, but every time I look at specific ones, I remember His great plan!
Blair Lamb says
Aw, I have a charm bracelet that I love too! 🙂 I love thinking about the great adventure that God’s taken me on and what He has in store for the future! Thanks for reading and commenting, Madilene! Would love to meet you when you’re next visiting Alex & Elise!!
Your little red bus made me smile. My 19 yr old son lives in London he will be there for 2 years doing what he knows and we know the Lord wants him to do. Yes, we’re Mormons and he’s serving a mission.
Blair Lamb says
How sweet! So glad you can relate to the little red bus and its significance! 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting, Erika!