I’m no longer “in the middle of”, I am now done reading (actually listening) to “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I bought the audiobook because I was making a trek alone up to Jamie and Jared’s house in North Carolina, and it was about 22 hours of driving. Turned out my iPod shuffle was not the appropriate device to listen to a 16-hour audio book on because you could not get back to where you were if you hit a wrong button, which I did. You cannot fast-forward an iPod Shuffle. I know it’s just a silly little shuffle, it has it’s place in the world, but shame on you Apple! How disappointed was I? Well it turned out okay, I talked to everyone under the sun during that drive, and spent the subsequent months finding alone time to continue listening to my book.
I would have enjoyed reading the book with my own two eyes, no doubt. But I really enjoyed listening. You know how you never really know if you are pronouncing things or using the right intonation when reading to yourself, when it’s the voice in your head speaking the words to you? Well it was a total bonus to not have to question myself the whole time. But the even bigger bonus was that the narration was done by Elizabeth Gilbert herself (that’s the author if you haven’t been following along). The part that made this all so exciting to me was not just that she was reading it how it was meant to be read, but the book is her memoirs. It’s her telling her story to you, right into your ears and into your heart.
Now, I have to admit, no sooner than I finished the book did I rent the movie. I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it as much as the actual book, you never do. Everyone told me I would not enjoy it, and that Julia Roberts just doesn’t cut it. She’s just not the real Liz Gilbert, especially after Liz reading the story to you herself. I felt like I knew Liz, and that Julia Roberts… gotta love her, you do, but she just didn’t stack up. Not even close. I know it’s a totally different ball game trying to sell movies than it is to sell books. I get that. But what made the book – her life – so utterly amazing was that it was toilsome. This movie brought a tear to my eye at one point, but I don’t think that part was even in the book. I know… gotta sell Hollywood. Enough said.
So this woman: early 30s, accomplished writer, marriage, hopes, dreams, all that jazz. She wants out of her marriage. She wants out so bad that it brings her to her knees repeatedly in the deepest darkest part of the night on the bathroom floor. So what does she do? She gets out. But it costs her every piece of her and her life… all her money, belongings, dignity. A 2-year long divorce, with a jagged love story smack dab in the middle of that horrible drama (which the movie did absolutely NOTHING to portray… sorry, I’m done), leaving her so undone that she needs to pack up and leave to accomplish 3 things: to learn Italian and stuff her face with Italian food; to find peace and divinity; and to return to Bali, where a prophetic medicine man told her she would return to one day to help him learn English.
Those three things bring her to 3 parts of the world and she goes through so much transformation, so much soul-searching, soul-finding. She’s searching for peace and forgiveness within. She’s up, she’s down, but she finds what she’s looking for and more. And it all hits home for me because I wonder how could this woman be going through so much pain and heartache at her age (I’m much, much younger… but still…)? Don’t horrendous divorces come much later in life? But I guess when you are accomplished and have money, that those types of battles can come at any time. If she didn’t have so many assets, I’m sure he would have found some other way to draw out the proceedings and make her miserable. But I find that it’s getting scary to be getting closer to that “mid-life” place. That place where so many people get divorced, are unhappy with the path they are on, and don’t know what they want.
I have a friend who is exactly my age, with 2 kids right about the same ages as mine, homeowner, doing well in her career. She tells me casually one day that she’s getting a divorce. Right in the middle of a conversation about our preferred bed size (king or queen?)! And it’s been bubbling below the surface for 2 whole years. TWO YEARS! How does that happen? Her kids are so young, their marriage is so young. What a direct hit of reality.
I think my mom was somewhere around 30 when her and my dad got divorced. I never thought about that until this very moment as I am typing about this point in life, this age… back to “it really IS a big deal to turn 30“.
But, the point I’d like to make about all this, and the book, and why I enjoyed it so much is that these women all made a choice. They made a choice to give themselves a second chance at happiness. They recognized what was wrong in their lives and they did what they needed to do to fix it, to be whole. Now, Liz Gilbert was a bit of an extreme case, but of course, that’s why it was on the New York Times Bestseller list. If we all had experiences like hers, combined with her amazing writing ability, then we too would be on the Bestseller list!
This blog is about exploring me, about going deep. And it’s about being inspired. I am totally inspired by Liz Gilbert’s Bestseller. Eat Pray Love was beautiful. It was a lot about finding God, whatever version of God you choose. I’ve started to talk about my views about the universe and faith, and I’ll probably continue at some point.
The last point I’d like to make is that extreme stories like Eat Pray Love aren’t everyone’s answer. There are many ways to become and stay grounded, to find peace and forgiveness within. Life is about maintenance. Keeping up with yourself, externally and more importantly internally. Not letting your problems, fears, and angers get out of control. Dealing with them without delay. Marriage maintenance can totally feel burdensome, especially when we just want it to be easy and fun. But it’s absolutely necessary.
Love yourself, love others and most importantly, let others love you. Well done Elizabeth Gilbert. I now fully intend to go buy your follow up memoir “Committed”!!