I’ve watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love dozens of times. I have lost myself in Julia Robert’s spaghetti slurping and Balinese bike riding so many times that it has become engrained into my mind. I’ve thought about reading the book many times over the last few years but have always been dissuaded by the reviews on Amazon: “Selfish and self-centered.” “A torturous book centered on self-pity and fake yoga.”
I finally gave in, feeling that even though a lot of people seem to absolutely hate this book, maybe I would feel differently.
Maybe what I find so enjoyable in this memoir is that there are a lot of moments when I see myself reflected in those words. I, too, have spent far too many hours rehashing my faults and my past. I, too, have looked at my perfect life and felt unhappy. In our society there is a notion that you have to want the white picket fence and the 2.5 kids and the golden retriever. Our entire goal should be to have the stellar career and make tons of money. We should take our beach vacation every year and happily drive our SUV to soccer practice. But what if once you have attained that goal you realize that it really isn’t how you want to spend your life? Should you endure a life because to not want that would be shameful? Well, that’s basically what I’ve been told.
I don’t have the 9-5 job, I have no desire to have those kids and I certainly will not be happy living a life that is structured around what other people believe to be the perfect vision of American suburbia. I have found a job that speaks to me, I’ve got a great husband, we have a nice house, but sometimes I feel kind of trapped. My mind wants to go out and wander the world. I want to explore and have no limits or boundaries. I want to be nomadic.
Now, I have fully realized that that dream would be almost impossible to do with my current responsibilities, so Marcus and I have come up with a compromise that we both agree is best for us. Do I get flack for taking a lot of vacations? You bet. Do I get flack for not have kids? All the time. Do I care? Not anymore.
What Elizabeth Gilbert told me in Eat, Pray, Love is that this life is yours. The choices you make to get you around in this life are yours. The responsibility to realize your dreams is yours. We are lucky in America to have the ability to choose our path in life which is pretty amazing. However, should you dare to choose something unconventional, you still have to be ready for the backlash.
I loved the reflections Liz went through on her journey to finding herself. I love that she was honest about her thoughts even though a lot of people call her self-absorbed because of them. She wrote what so many people are actually feeling: their self-doubt, self-hate and self-loathing that often come with unhappiness in our choices.
I don’t know much about the non-physical meditative parts of yoga, but a large portion of this book is dedicated to finding God. This aspect drew a lot of negativity from internet critics, but I think it was needed. Liz was missing something in her life and she went out and sought help to fill in her holes. The emotions that are pleasure, love and balance are played out in this book in one woman’s words. I enjoyed reading them and sympathizing, but I also really liked coming to the conclusion that hey, I’m not alone in my emotions. Gilbert gave me as a reader a glimpse into the thought that I’m not the only one who thinks these things and that maybe there really isn’t anything empirically wrong with my.
Overall, I loved this book as much as I had hoped I would. The writing is representative of Gilbert’s internal monologue, her descriptions of places and people and emotions are so relateable, I can almost feel myself there with her. I’ll continue to turn to this book, and Gilbert as an author when I need her.
Have you read or watched Eat, Pray, Love? What are your thought on Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir of her post-divorce navel gazing?
You can purchase the book on Amazon here: