Friday, May 11, 2007

Eat, Pray, Love


This is the title of the most magnificent book by Elizabeth Gilbert.

It is a story of her journey, her search for balance, happiness, pleasure and devotion. It is - I repeat - magnificent. The book has us following her on a year and a half long journey through Italy, India, and Indonesia. She sets on this journey in her early thirties after a nasty divorce, and she kindly takes us along for the ride. In fact, she courageously takes us along even before the traveling bit begins, through the dismal landscape of her darkest moments and deepest depression as she struggles to leave behind a life that by any outsiders' standards might look beyond perfect. But the book is far from a downer. It is uplifting, pee-your-pants FUNNY, endearing, tender, difficult, brave, honest and deeply spiritual.

I suppose it is no surprise Elizabeth's story has touched me so deeply, especially at this time that we are getting ready to embark on a journey of our own. The book just happened to find me when I was browsing at Barnes&Noble looking for something else entirely. I had never heard of her or the book before, but it was clear I was to read This Book, at This Time. I couldn't put it down. I identified with so much in it that sometimes I had to remind myself I wasn't reading about myself. Many of the details of my life are, of course, totally different from hers, but so much is also the same. (Right down to her "digestive emergencies" that had me laughing in tears... I was reading this on a TRIP, in the midst of one of my own "emergencies"! It wasn't pretty, but at least I know I am not alone!!)

More importantly though(!), through her book, I heard someone else asking the same questions, voicing the same longing, doing the same searching I find myself doing. In this book, I heard the voices of so many of my favorite teachers; Shunryi Suzuki, Charlotte Beck, Pema Chödron, Neal Donald Walsch... but spoken by someone who also struggles, questions, fails (as if we really can fail), is taunted by her own mind (oh, how I can relate here!), and who finally comes to a place of supreme calm within herself. (Now, this, I don't relate with so much - yet...) In my own (sporadic and undisciplined) practice, I haven't quite gotten past that point yet where my mind settles down. So many times I have wished I could just somehow hack my head off and be left only with my heart and my body on the meditation pillow - to STOP the incessant chatter within! What can I say...... I have a ways to go. But, as she puts it, "that's why it's called meditation PRACTICE".

Her honest and sometimes agonizing but always beautiful account of those magical months of searching and finding has deeply touched me. It made me laugh and cry, and it inspired me at a pivotal point in my life. It has helped me remember to seek with courage. And to keep sitting on the pillow. Because I, also, am a "big fan of [God's] work" - and the peace I am searching for can only be found within.

(Did I mention the book was magnificent?)

9 comments:

Jessica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica said...

Glad you stopped by my blog so I knew to come by here and check for an update. The book sounds amazing. I'll have to check it out. Hope all is well with you and Bruce in the midst of so much obvious change.

Stephen Newton said...

Tia,
I'm so glad you found that book and it helped so much. Yes, my main concern about the HPV vaccine is that is being promoted in our present climate where pharmaceutical greed is taking precedence over our personal welfare.

I hope you find the peace you are seeking.

kenju said...

Tia, I saw that book on the shelf today at Sam's Club, but I didn't pick it up. I think I will remedy that!

SzélsőFa said...

Tia, I've heard that you might be considering living in Chicago....? WT??? Am I wrong in assuming so?
as much as I know about you, which is really not much, I'd be moe than surprised by such a decision.
But I really don't know much...

hanulf said...

I've heard a couple of interviews with the author about this book, and it sounded just as you have described it - magnificent!

I'll have to get it now, as you have inspired me furter... :)

Thanks for stopping by earlier!

Dara said...

that's on my to-read list at the library - sounds wonderful!

Pearl said...

I heard of tho book by author interview first as well. Read it, re-read it. Great book and not so nearly as long-feeling as the thickness would make it seem.

Danielle B. said...

When I picked this book up a few months ago...after reading a review on someone's blog...I found that I couldn't put it down until I had read it all! You are correct...it is a magnificent read...I could relate on so many levels....it was eerie in some parts...it's like you said...you had to continually remind yourself that you weren't reading about you. Great book!