Yippee! The movie, based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s smash book, Eat, Pray, Love, came out this weekend. The hype this book created had to be good for tourism in Italy, India and Indonesia! Everyone could use a good Liz Gilbert experience just once in their lifetime. If done as well as she did it, one lifetime is probably all you’d need! Three unique destinations. Three life altering experiences. 1) Cultivating a healthy relationship and genuine appreciation for the sensuality of food as one of life’s pleasures, rather than a means of control, deprivation, medicating, or eating away emotion. 2) Connecting with your true self and reaping the benefits of forgiveness, and, 3) Meeting your perfect fit... the love of your life, in the most beautiful location on earth; a fairy tale come true. All in one single year! C’mon...what are the odds? I’ve spent a lifetime just trying to find any old self, true or not. It’s possible, this year, a reunion has finally taken place. “Helloooooooo, Rebecca.... nice to finally meet you. I’m Becky!” Now that we’ve met, we’re working on best friend status. I really like the old broad. I asked her, “Where you been all my life?” She said, “Right here. You didn’t have time for me. You were trying so desperately to insure others liked you, you couldn’t see that I already did.” I digress. Back to Elizabeth Gilbert’s book. I am not a big fan of the Nicholas Sparks genre, love conquers all and everyone lives happily ever after...... sigh.....This is just not a realistic gig for me. Perhaps, I have a deep seated envy of the population that believe in that kind of innocence. My daughter is among them. I feared this book would be like that. Girl experiences double heartbreak, goes to Europe to heal and wait out her divorce. While waiting, she swears off men, eats her way through the best pizza known to man (really substituting food for man). She decides to go to India, as her pants are now too tight and perhaps, being locked in an Ashram indulging in the brown rice diet program, will be the ticket to finding weight loss and herself. While in the Ashram, she drops two sizes, and discovers she must forgive, in order to clear her karmic airspace. Emerging an enlightened, skinnier, human being, she is open to new beauty and potential frolic on the beautiful beaches of Bali. Fade out.... final chapter, there she goes, walking hand in hand, on the beach toward the land of milk, honey and commitment, with some sexy, worldly, foreigner. Flash forward to her new book, ten years later, Purge, Rage, Hate.... Stripped of her money, again, divorce pending, she can’t afford to work through her issues this time gallivanting across the globe. She spends a weekend in a cheap hotel room in Soho, meditating to the sounds of the local hooker and her parade of Johns in the room next door. Is this all too cynical of me? Am I writing my own story here?
I know I am being wildly irreverent and I apologize. That was the mindset I had when I opened the book initially, two years ago. When I closed the book, I was sighing and clutching it to my heart, hoping to shove some of her wisdom into my own soul. I did. She changed my perception on a number of things and I annoyingly quote her fairly often these days. I fell in love with this book, and Elizabeth Gilbert. She has the confidence (and humility) to strip bare, expose herself, and invite you into the bedroom of her vulnerability. Right where all her secrets are kept. You feel her suffering, see her revelations, and experience her joy. She is the kind of person you want for a best friend. Your secrets would be safe with her because they mirror yours, and it’s creepy and not much fun, to be with someone who has none. And, this is what made her story beautiful, and believable, rather than just another glorified love saga. Yes, she found her grand love. But, before that, she took your hand and let you walk that painful path with her, peeling back the layers in each country, as she moved forward into her happily ever after.
The buzz her story created is pretty amazing. Interest in Buddhism has skyrocketed as well as “spiritualcations” (spiritual vacations). I recently read an article in a woman’s health magazine of a group of young women, who quit their jobs, as well, to travel and “marvel” at something. I am not discounting the bravery and faith it takes to venture out into parts unknown. But, I do know that making a geographical adjustment isn’t necessarily the path to enlightenment, forgiveness and love. Can be a heck of a lot of fun while doing it, but we all have to come home, and guess who comes along home with us?
Two years ago, I was blessed to travel, for two months. I became immersed in each culture and savored every moment and morsel. It was my adventure of a lifetime. The final days of my trip, I reflected on many things. Three countries, eighteen accommodations, many more destinations, witnessing snatch your breath away majesty, in its natural form, as well as man-made Art that made me weep. I still felt this urgency to return home. I discovered that enlightenment can also be found in our own surroundings and in the eyes of the love we encounter in our daily connections.
This last year has been an Eat, Pray, Love journey for me as well. The majority of my enlightenment has arrived, quietly, within the four walls of my own home. I have rediscovered the pleasure of good food. Not only the taste, but the serenity of the preparation. Somehow, over the years, I must have decided I wasn’t worthy of the time it took to prepare lovely, nourishing, meals. That was reserved for friends,family, and special occasions. Food was fast and furious, kind of like my life, consumed most often standing up at the counter! I didn’t think that same pleasure, I so freely gave my loved ones, was mine to enjoy. How lovely it is to now sit at a table, cloth napkin, pretty dishes, nutritious, delectable food, filling my belly as well as sustaining my soul. My Pray took place in my personal Ashram, my favorite spot in my house. It is a holy place by nature, because so much of life has played out there. Hearts have broken, tears have been shed, secrets revealed, joy shared, intimacy savored, comfort provided, and a blessed life passed on to begin a heavenly life, all in this small, solitary room. It’s as beautiful in its meaning as Bali could ever be. The shelves reflect photographs of happy people and times, meaningful trinkets and treasures. Windows overlook God’s playground, glorious year round, but especially so when the trees are frosted with the white stillness of winter. A fireplace, roaring, acts as a fire Mandela in losing conscious thought and slipping into the space inside, where God resides. Over sized comfy chairs welcome sprawling into childlike poses. All the while, listening to instruction from some of the inner work greats; Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zin, Dr. Wayne Dyer, as they help me slow down my mind enough, to allow stillness, prayer, healing and Love, to enter. Back to back days spent in my haven, pried open the door to forgiveness and allowed it to finally swing wide open. And, lastly....my love. I discovered her in my bathroom mirror. I had seen her around for many years, but never really paid much attention to her. How could I miss those bright, happy eyes and joyful smile? I am happy to report she is everything I always dreamed of. I accept her as she is, flaws and fluff, because those are the things that make her special to me. And, I made a commitment (perhaps for the first time in my life) to always treasure her, never leave her, and unconditionally love her, forever.
Don’t wait for the time, or the money, to take your Eat, Pray, Love journey. Begin where you are, with what you have. Venture into parts of yourself that are yet unknown. I promise, you will discover there is so much to "marvel" at, right where you stand.