The other day my wife and I boarded a vintage windjammer for a group cruise of the gorgeous harbor in Camden, Maine. It accommodated a few dozen of us, including a small crew who live aboard the sailing vessel year round, summering here and wintering in Key West, Florida. As we cruised beautiful Penobscot Bay, I snapped the above photo and got to thinking about what it means to live so lightly.
Contrary to popular opinion, you and I are not meant to be defined by our stuff. Our personhood is comprised of more than our possessions. If our identity is wrapped up in the stuff we possess, then it is warped and perverted. As Jesus himself stated, “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
In case you are wondering, the word jettison means “a voluntary sacrifice of cargo to lighten a ship’s load in time of distress.” So not only does the crew live very lightly aboard their boat, but they are also prepared to lighten its load even further if it is necessary. And I cannot help asking the rhetorical question, are we prepared to do likewise?
As Joshua Becker writes in The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, “In America, we consume twice as many material goods as we did fifty years ago. Over the same period, the size of the average American home has nearly tripled, and today that average home contains about three hundred thousand items.”
And John S. Allen adds in his book Home: How Habitat Made Us Human, “A house or dwelling is a place to store things, but when storage overtakes home’s other roles—especially the storage of items defined as useless by the prevailing culture—then something more profound than simple living space has been lost.” So let me encourage you to lighten your load and jettison the cargo that has kept you from cruising.