Since my kids have reached an age where I am no longer swaddling, rocking, singing and feeding at every hour of the day, I have found some more time for me. One of the things I’ve been trying to find time for is reading. Lately I, of course, have been reading a bazillion pregnancy/childbirth related books, but I also have had the pleasure of reading a book now and then “just because’. This does not happen often, but this year I’ve read three books for no other reason than to enjoy them.
My latest book was a treasure. “Eat Pray Love” was sent to me for my birthday from my brother and sister-in-law, and apparently they know me well. I had never heard of it, although it is currently #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List for paperback nonfiction. This does not surprise me. (Hint: Two kids; new business.)
On my recent flights to and from Houston, I was able to start and finish this book. It reads very quickly, like a novel, although it is actually more of an autobiography, or a slice of someone’s life.
In the beginning of the book, the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, finds herself in a heap on the bathroom floor, doing something she hasn’t done in…well…ever. She is praying. She wants to leave her marriage. The next few years are spent between the highs of finding a new love and finding freedom from a failed marriage and the lows of deep depression when she has to deal with the mess of divorce and when she can’t make the new love work. But that’s just where the story starts. She’s broken, and must find a way to fix herself. She hatches a plan: she’ll sell everything she has and travel for a year: spending 4 months in Italy, 4 months in India, and 4 months in Indonesia. In Rome, she learns how to live again and feed herself - figuratively and quite literally. At an exclusive Ashram, she connects with the divine and feels her connection to the world around her through Yogic meditation. Finally in Bali, she finds a balance between pleasure and prayer.
This book may be a travel memoir, but it is so much more. As Gilbert searches for meaning in life and rebuilds her injured soul, we are inspired to do the same in our own lives. Her philosophy on travel (taken from her website) goes like this:
I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” – a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: “If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself….then truth will not be withheld from you.” Or so I’ve come to believe. I can’t help but believe it, given my experience.
I’ve seen dark times in my own life, and know I should have taken better care of my soul during them. A little meditation, and probably some Zoloft, should have been part of my healing, but at the time I was in a place so dark that I could not see the way out. Thankfully, I did make it through the darkness, and understand the bravery it takes to face your own demons.
Gilbert is someone that is endlessly sympathetic and at the same time easily likable. Oddly enough for a book with such a deep and at times depressing, premise, it is very funny. Reading her story is like sitting down for coffee and having a heart-to-heart with your best girlfriend, and getting in both a good laugh and a good cry. Her book makes me want to learn the art of meditation. And travel. But mostly, it makes me want to try and be a better person. And read more books that nourish me…like this one.