My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A good friend of mine recommended I read this book at a time in my life when I really needed it. If ever there was an author who seems to have peeled back the folds of my mind in writing, it would be Liz Gilbert.
This book spoke to me on DEEP levels. Much of her self-reflection was so much my own I felt the need to call Gilbert or email her and say, “Guess what? I think you’re my solar twin.”
From her ruminations on God, to her desperate anxiety about children and the ticking clock of biological and societal imperatives, to her longing for a spiritual teacher, I know this woman. In many ways, I AM this woman. I actually told my husband he should read this book because, not only is it a wonderful and inspiring memoir, but it would give him a clearer insight into my own psyche.
There are, of course, some things in this book I cannot relate to at all. I am happily married, whereas Gilbert is in a miserable match at the onset. I grew up a social loner and Gilbert was a social butterfly. But on the deep, spiritual questions, we are much alike. The moment when Gilbert sees her future guru in a picture and thinks to herself, “I want a spiritual teacher,” is very much where my own inclinations are right now.
I could most relate to chapters 30 and 38. Chapter 30 accurately describes my own misgivings about becoming a mother and Chapter 38 is, in almost acute detail, how I feel about the quest for God and the practice of bhakti yoga.
All in all, I was most impressed with her decision to finally do the three things she has longed for most in her life; travel to the three I’s: Italy, India and Indonesia. I found myself making a list in my head of the things I still want to do and have not. I want to travel to the places in the world that touch something mysterious inside my heart, I want to spend time with a spiritual master, I want to learn the art of silence, I want to learn how to be present in the moment, appreciating all of the things I have RIGHT NOW and not worrying myself into a frazzle about the future. Of course, all this planning is somewhat looking into the future, but it’s more of a “this is something that will happen someday,” and not a bothersome, “how am I going to force the world to cooperate with me here to get this petty thing I think I need?”
Reading this book inspired me to return to a spiritual way of life I learned as a teenager, but have ignored as a misguided, directionally challenged, and debauched twenty-something. My twenties, despite all their excess and searching and education and exploration, were fraught with spiritual isolation. It was not until I spent several years on my own, contemplating my own inner self that I found not only a kind of peace, but my husband again.
There is a section in this book (I forget the chapter) where Richard from Texas (a hilarious character!) explains that a true soul mate acts as a kind of mirror (which is often how I describe my relationship with my husband to others). They sometimes shatter us and tear down all our walls and it’s too intense for us to deal with if we’re not spiritually ready. I met my husband when I was 19 and fell not only completely and madly in love with him, but was shattered by him because he tore open all my illusions and I wasn’t ready to deal with that kind of an identity crisis yet. I think it was only after years of figuring myself out and contemplation that the Universe said, “Okay, I think you are both ready to be together again.” Maybe I should write a memoir someday.
I couldn’t really relate to Gilbert’s time in Italy much. I’ve never been big on pasta. But I did recognize her moments of repair. I went through a similar experience when I was trying to rebuild my life out of the ashes of a failed relationship.
While Gilbert was in India, I found myself longing to be with her. I decided to add a trip to India to my “must do” things in life. I even set aside a small India fund which I’m going to add to in little increments from here on out and if it takes me until I’m 50 to make it there, so be it. I’m going someday. I also decided it was time to take a spiritual retreat which I (and my friend who suggested this book to me) are going to in October ;0)
Gilbert’s time in Indonesia was more comical to me than anything, but there were many, many laugh out loud moments in which I chuckled myself into tears.
I’m not sure this book is for everyone. Some of my aesthete-type, writer pals might balk at this memoir for it’s sometimes sheer lunacy. But for me, it was a journey of discovery, both for the author and myself. If you have never found yourself alone, locked in a bathroom, crying your eyes out, or arguing, madly with the voices in your head, or marveling at the simplicity of solitude, or longing for God with the intensity of a man whose head is on fire, longs for water, then this book is probably not for you. If you HAVE experienced anything even remotely similar to these subjects, you will probably adore Eat, Pray, Love. I know I did.
I highly recommend this book to my friends, Swan, Deja, Aubry, Kathleen, Brooke, Harmony, Candice, Stefanie, Lisa, Raegan, Colleen, Maegan, Aunt Teresa, and Kristy. And possibly even my Mother. I would also love the men whom I believe possess the spiritual chops for something like this to give it a go. You all know who you are ;0) Esquire wrote in it’s review, “this is not just for the ladies, gentlemen.”
I know they have adapted this book for film. I saw a trailer for it the other day with Julia Roberts portraying Liz. I found myself wondering A LOT how the director was going to be able to translate the epic moments in this memoir to film. Mostly because the most amazing moments are all so internal. We’ll see. It might work, it might not, but I suggest you read the book first. I’m not sure the movie is going to be able to pull it off and would hate for my friends to formulate an opinion about this book from the movie.
In any event, Eat, Pray, Love went straight to my Top 10 all-time favorite books and I’m not a light reader. That being said, read it, digest it and enjoy.
Love + Light