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Primary sources are the priceless eyes and ears that our future ones will have when they turn to consider our ways, our habits, and our deeds. Narrative accounts are often the only source of information for the historian, and so a crucial skill can be the interpretation, and deciphering, of the biases of the original writer. Elizabeth Gilbert's EAT, PRAY, LOVE: One Woman's Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia is memoir of her own year-long journey in search of her self.
Gilbert traveled to places to settle or to escape, but whatever the motivation, the journey is as much inward as outward. She would visit three places - Italy, India, and Indonesia - and attempt to find pleasure, spiritual growth, and balance. In Italy she learnt to speak the language and traveled around, mostly eating. In India she went to an ashram and experienced its practice and discipline; it was a long way from rich sheets of pasta swimming in olive oil. Here she found some peace in middle-of-the-night devotions, hours of chanting, and a landscape and people that offered her solace and rest. Indonesia is character filled, almost overflowing with the names of people she met and grown to treasure. Indonesia was also filled with love; because it was there she met Felipe. After a year of travel, Gilbert found something of what she needed, and in writing this book she offered the reader a great souvenir.
This book is popular not only for her expression of locale but for the adult coming-of-age story she tells. They are typically highly narrative and character focused and can be endlessly funny as well as quite poignant. Though this is a fresh take on the type, this is also a work that illustrates its key elements: it is location specific and full of characters met along the journey, it begins as an escape and ends up as a refuge, and it is personal, funny and reflective.
I think the book has such appeal because this tale resonates for me. The topics contained in this book are particularly moored in the personal realm. The book was inspiring and hope-filled, mirroring my own experiences. My experiences offer me an opportunity to find myself as well. And I might be pleasantly surprised by where this book takes me. I surely have been. Gilbert was. After reading this book, I asked myself: What do I most want? Have I been living it? What needs to change? Just who will I be?
When I read this book, I was immediately charmed and inspired by her description of her first conversation with God. Gilbert said something that spoke to me and put words to where my internal happiness may come from. Gilbert explains that the yogic view is based on this assumption: "We're miserable because we think that we are mere individuals, alone with our fears and flaws and resentments and mortality... We have failed to recognize our deeper divine character. We don't realize that somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme Self who is eternally at peace. That supreme Self is our true identity, universal and divine" (p. 122). May be the general contentment that I feel comes from within because I finally took the time to examine and get to know myself. Just maybe, dedicating this time to myself allowed me to begin to recognize my internal 'supreme Self'.
Few moments that calls my attention deviates from the existing problems clouding my mind. Moments when sitting somewhere alone far away from the source of my predicaments that seems not viable to resolve, where only me and the environs that nature can offer inhabits. Where I am nowhere near the headaches and pain that seems to find its way and creep persistently towards the unwary me. To get away from everything around, it does sounds good to have something like that. Yet it goes on, it can pierce the silence of the one thing from within me that has been kept inactive for a long time, wanting to be let out of its cage and reach me from the depths of its core. Finally, I let everything out. The grief, the anger, the disturbances, everything that has left me crippled and mutilated. Meeting this part of my character helps me to have faith in myself and my integrity in all areas of my life: with friends, with work, with family, and with strangers. I also know that this is just part of the journey, and that as time passes on I can only learn more and come to know my 'supreme Self' better.
A sense of 'not good enough' to bring everything back the way they used to. One way or another, I want them to perceive, to perceive sound, to sense and even smell the things I'm currently experiencing, right at this very moment. Maybe, even have some chuckles and childish discussions among the people I'm at ease being with. Yet I know that I can never have the whole thing back the way I want it, so in its place I choose for something second best and that is finding a place where I can be alone and be myself. A place I can call mine.
This book is a memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, and is about the author's own experience to leave marriage, and her subsequent growth. This book provides empirical evidences as well. At the beginning of the book, Gilbert realizes that she never really wanted the life she chose. She chronicles her odyssey to find herself. She shares her journey to wholeness and joy. She describes, in beautiful and funny prose, the work she had to do to heal. She had to learn how to let go. She needed to discover her spiritual place in the universe. Those tasks had to be accomplished before she could find a love that was right for her. She finds herself quite surprised by what she learns. What ultimately brings her joy isn't what she ever expected she'd want or choose! I would definitely recommend this book to my colleagues who are looking for something new and to travel fans willing to read a mix of spiritual quest and travel tale. In this book, I find something of what I need, and while writing this book Gilbert offers the readers a great souvenir.