Friday, April 16, 2010
Eat, Pray, Love- Elizabeth Gilbert
Eat, Pray, Love is a memoir of Gilbert's journey to find herself and her purpose in life after a traumatic divorce and major life crisis. On the surface that quick synopsis might sound like any other divourcee's memoir of love lost and life found, but Gilbert's story is different. Her marriage has ended, it seems, for no major reason; she just wasn't happy any more. Initially, her husband refuses to grant her a divorce and after a long and arduous battle with lawyers, Gilbert is finally set free... a little too free. The on-again, off-again relationship with her boyfriend is off-again, she's depressed, anxious and beginning to feel a little crazy. So, she plans a year of travel, to three very different but equally stunning places around the globe, with the hopes of finding her pleasure, passion, devotion, and herself.
To me, on the surface, this book still sounds irritating. I'm not a huge fan of the "find yourself" novels that have been popular of late. No one else's journey has ever made me realize something in myself and generally I'm just mad that they've been able to leave their lives behind and embark on the journey to begin with. I didn't feel this way with Gilbert's work, however. Her writing has such a frank and earnest tone that I couldn't help but immediately relate to her and, dare I say it, love her. She has just the right amount of self deprication and self esteem to drag me with her around the globe and never once feel a twinge of jealousy. I was there in Italy with her experiencing all of the pleasures of pasta and gelatto. In India, I meditated alongside her and deeply felt her desperation for spiritual guidance and serenity. Indonesia brought her balance and made me reflect on the delicate balance of my own life. I was completely taken in by her descriptions, her adventures, even her evervescence.
I felt empowered after reading this book, not irritated. I felt like she had given me a blueprint and permission to explore my own world and desires. I am unlikely to get divorced, quit my job and travel around the world for a year, but I feel like I could now. So, while I really didn't want to like this book, I ended up loving it. As a writer, I also appreciate how she structured it (which is explained in the preface). I liked her attention to detail; how every word had a place and while it felt carefully crafted, still flowed like a long conversation with your best friend.
I'm quite glad I got over my aversion of following the crowd and my anger at those whose lives are more spectacular than mine, to read this book. It was definitely worth the time and I think is one that I might even visit again to refresh my own commitments to food, prayer and love.