Eat…Pray…Love…three ways in which we are nourished. Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, her honest yet humorous voice is nourishing. It reads like a novel even though it is a non-fiction selection. In some ways this is a chronicle of a spiritual journey, but the reader does not ever feel “preached at.” The book is well written, smart, funny and insightful. It causes one to contemplate one’s own life journey.
Liz really starts this journey on her knees, on her bathroom floor, praying to God. I have been on that bathroom floor. I find myself identifying with this woman immediately. If only I could back out of my life for a year and travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia looking for my authentic self. After being depleted by a divorce, an ill-fated love affair, and depression Liz begins healing in Italy. She will spend four months there contemplating pleasure: the pleasure of eating delicious food with no feelings of remorse or guilt, the pleasure of learning a beautiful language for no reason other than just because. I took five years of French in school and thought it was the language of love, but I was mistaken…Italian is that language. There is something very seductive about Italian.
Although Liz is certainly keen on Italy and has an amazing experience there, she feels as though there is something about herself that does not quite fit with the city of Rome (where she actually lives during her stay). One of Liz’s Italian friends proposes the following interesting concept: “Every city has a single word that defines it, that identifies most people who live there. If you could read people’s thoughts as they were passing you on the streets of any given place, you would discover that most of them are thinking the same thought. Whatever that majority thought might be-that is the word of the city. And, if your personal word does not match the word of the city, then you don’t really belong there.” What is your word? I am still contemplating mine…
Next, Liz travels to India to an Ashram to contemplate devotion, mostly through the art of meditation, for four months. There she meets Richard from Texas…a brash man who says what he thinks when he thinks it. He doesn’t have a whole lot of tact, but he is full of interesting insight. I especially like the advice he imparts on Liz regarding the idea of soul mates: “Your problem is you don’t understand what that word means. People think a soul mate is your perfect fit … but a true soul mate is a mirror … the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life … they tear down your walls and smack you awake … but to live with a soul mate forever … too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave … your problem is, you just can’t let this one go.” I think Richard is her true Guru; not the woman whose Ashram she is visiting.
Finally, Liz travels to Bali in Indonesia to search for the balance between worldly pleasure and spiritual devotion. There Liz spends time with an old Balinese medicine man: Ketut Liyer…a man who seems like the little, old grandpa for the entire world; a man whom I would love to meet. Although I was fascinated by all of the people Liz meets while traveling, Ketut is my favorite character in this story. I love his mind, his insights, his toothless smile, his broken English, the was he pronounces “Liz” as “Liss.” She also meets Felipe and eventually falls in love. This is the first time that Liz is able to indulge in a relationship without completely losing herself…her identity. She is no longer broken and can give of herself as a whole, balanced woman.
Although the book is almost always better than the movie, Eat, Pray, Love the movie lands a close second. I read the book and watched the movie at the same time and recommend anyone do the same. The movie brings the different cultures and people from the book alive in a very enhancing manner.
Favorite Quote: “We have hands; we can stand on them if we want to. That’s our privilege. That’s the joy of a mortal body. And that’s why God needs us. Because God loves to feel things through our hands.” – Elizabeth Gilbert