I finished Eat, Pray, Love and it resonated for me. I loved it. One of the best reading experiences I’ve had this year. In my earlier post about the book, I noted a couple of issues I was having:
- I had a big problem with not knowing anything about the ex-husband.
- I was having a hard time finding the main character likable (and thus worth following)
The problem I was having with the husband was that knowing him would have helped me know more about Gilbert. She revealed herself in good time, so hubby became less relevant, although I still think it’s a hole in the narration. Secondly, I found myself rooting for Gilbert somewhere in the Italy section and I was completely in her corner mid-way through the India section. By the time I finished Bali, I pretty much wanted to email her and profess my undying love. The writing is that solid.
There’s so much you can get out of this book it’s hard for me to break it down into a tidy list. I will say that if you’re a dude and you want to know more about the emotional and intellectual lives of the fairer sex, this book can help you. Also, if you’ve ever been in a fucked up relationship and wondered how someone got out of it with their soul intact, this book can help you.
I will also say that I have found myself in awful relationship circumstances and the urge to journey and find oneself is something I’ve felt MANY TIMES. So there’s no question, Gilbert’s journey resonated with me powerfully. I also understand the desire to still one’s churning mind, to live a more heart-centered life, and to find internal peace…these are things I think about often.
If you read the reviews on Amazon, you will find that people either love the book or utterly hate it. It’s that polarizing. I can understand why it wouldn’t be someone’s cup of tea. It wouldn’t be a vast stretch to view Gilbert as a spoiled brat who cheated on her husband, ran out on the marriage, and then spent a year traveling and writing about it to “get over” the damage. This thinking is too cynical for me, though, and I think anyone can get something out of this book, even if you disagree with some of the decisions. I chose to enjoy the journey and receive the gifts of her insight.
I think we all deserve a shot at happiness and I can’t judge or begrudge a person who pursues that happiness even if I don’t agree with all of the circumstances. I know if I was in her situation and I was presented with a similar set of choices, I might have chosen as she did. In fact, I would probably would have made the same choices. I can only hope that I would be lucky enough to pull myself out of it.
Here are some passages I marked that really made my jaw drop:
“People think a soul mate is a perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it.” (p. 149)
“The two people who needed to talk to each other up there on the roof were not even people anymore. They wouldn’t even be talking. They weren’t even ex-spouses, not an obstinate midwesterner and a high-strung Yankee, not a guy in his forties and a woman in her thirties, not two limited people who had argued for years about sex and money and furniture–none of this was relevant. For the purposes of this meeting, at the level of this reunion, they were just two cool blue souls who already understood everything. Unbounded by their bodies, unbound by the complex history of their past relationship, they came together above this roof (above me, even) in infinite wisdom. Still in meditation, I watched these two cool blue souls circle each other, merge, divide again and regard each other’s perfection and similarity. They knew everything. They knew everything long ago and they will always know everything. They didn’t need to forgive each each other; they were born forgiving each other.” (p. 187)
“I got pulled through the wormhole of the Absolute, and in that rush I suddenly understood the workings of the universe completely. I left my body, I left the room, I left the planet, I stepped through time and I entered the void. I was inside the void, but I also was the void and I was looking at the void, all at the same time. The void was a place of limitless peace and wisdom. The void was conscious and it was intelligent.” (p. 199)
Oh yeah, her description of the best pizza in Naples in chapter 27 is absolutely outstanding. I want some NOW. (Honey, if you want to read this book, I’ll mail it to you.)