Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat,_Pray,_Love_–_Elizabeth_Gilbert,_2007I finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love last night, and I wrestled with my thoughts to decide if I should really blog about the book. I did not want to write about it because, a) I didn’t want to annoy you by writing about my failed, bitter marriage again (I have written about it 1,025 times already) 😉 and b) When SO many people have already read the book, how is my little opinion going to change the course of readers’s world? Hence, I decided I would just mark it on Goodreads, and stay silent.

And, you now know that I have changed my mind. 🙂 Bear with me while I repeat some thoughts here.

When my marriage crashed, a lot of readers recommended Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. Although I politely agreed to read it, I told myself, “Who the hell is Gilbert? How does she know about the shit I am going through? I am not going to read about this rich woman, travelling to three I’s, devouring pizza, and pasta, sojourning at an ashram, and making love to a Brazilian man. Please!”

But, the pressure mounted. Even the non-readers in my life judged me for not reading the book. That bruised my ego. So, I told the Amazon guys, “Shut up, and take my money!” 😉 Also, last month, I read Gilbert’s Big Magic. I wanted to marry that book. With a bruised ego, I also realised that Gilbert might have some golden tips for me in Eat, Pray, Love.

Has the book changed my life? Do I feel better about all the unpleasant things that happened to me? The answer is yes. But, not a big yes that I said to Big Magic. That book is still my favourite of Gilbert’s.

I am grateful to Eat, Pray, Love for planting some significant thoughts in my head.

In spite of being the last one to move out of my marriage, I harboured no hatred. However, I was filled with regrets, guilt, and self-pity. While depression, and loneliness haunted me, I grew mad at myself for — pardon my french — fucking up everything. When I read about Gilbert’s battle with divorce, and loneliness, I kept nodding. I kept saying, “That’s my life. That’s exactly how I feel.”

“It’s not fair for you to come here,” I tell Depression. “I paid you off already. I served my time back in New York.” But he just gives me that dark smile, settles into my favourite chair, puts his feet on my table and lights a cigar, filling the place with his awful smoke. Loneliness watches and sighs, then climbs into my bed and pulls the cover over himself, fully dressed, shoes and all. He’s going to make me sleep with him again tonight, I just know it.

…when I get lonely these days, I think: So be lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness, Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.

I had some uncanny moments, when I was reading Eat, Pray, Love. Like those strange moments when you can’t believe those words you see on paper, because they project an accurate picture of yourself, as though the writer was a fly in your bedroom, and had unconditional access to the most private sections of your life. Sigh!

If I love you, you can have everything. You can have my time, my devotion, my ass, my money, my family, my dog, my dog’s money, my dog’s time — everything. If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family. I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check. I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy is by becoming infatuated with someone else.

This much I do know — I’m exhausted by the cumulative consequences of a lifetime of hasty choices and chaotic passions.

Not only did Gilbert make me feel that my struggle is not unique, and that I don’t have to allow the quicksand to suck me in, but she shared some wise words. I loved this one.

…when you sense a faint potentiality for happiness after such dark times you must grab onto the ankles of that happiness and not let go until it drags you face-first out of the dirt — this is not selfishness, but obligation. You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.

From the thousands of passages I have shared here, you might have deduced that I used my highlighter like a child who abuses her crayons. 🙂 I tortured the highlighter even more after Gilbert met Richard from Texas. I love that guy; his sagacity is precious.

Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing…

Gilbert also met a plumber/poet from New Zealand, and I wanted to inhale, and drink that guy’s Instructions for Freedom. He wrote 10 points to help Gilbert let go of her last lover, and I wanted to hug the plumber/poet because I found his Instructions personal. I couldn’t help but shed a couple of tears on the book when I read it. I thought, “This. Is. What. I. Wanted. To. Read.” (I will save you from reading another highlighted passage.) 😉

The Balinese part of the book didn’t affect me like the first two parts. Perhaps, I still haven’t removed my skeptical-thinking-hat about love, sex, and all that. If a friend goes through a rough patch in life owing to a bitter marriage, I will not shove a copy of Eat, Pray, Love in her hands. I am not comfortable recommending this book to anybody, regardless of how flowery or thorny one’s life is. I liked it because Gilbert gave words to some of my most painful, private struggles, and she subtly dropped a rope to me to climb out of my abyss.

 

Advertisements

54 thoughts on “Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

  1. I am in the middle of Big Magic, after reading about it on Delia’s blog, and I love it so much. The book is everything I need in my life right now! Gilbert is at once so warm and upfront, and just wholly awe-inspiring. Big Magic is my introduction to her too.

    I saw the Eat, Pray, Love movie recently, though I don’t know if it lives up – I’ve heard quite a bit about the book from an unlikely source (boyfriend.) I really appreciate the quotes you’ve added. “It is your duty to find something beautiful within life.” – I love this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I am so excited for you, Priya. ‘Big Magic’ is unassumingly beautiful. I am forever grateful to that book for restoring my faith in art. I look forward to reading your thoughts. And, after Cheryl Strayed, Gilbert inspires me a lot.

      Like

  2. I wanted to marry Eat, Pray Love when I read it. (Haha funny way to say you loved a book.) I loved it but for different reasons than you because I’ve never been married. But, just like you, the last part left me cold and I felt she’d betrayed herself a little bit. All this talk of being your own perosn and then that . . . Still, I loved it. With hindsight, I’d say I liked Big Magic more than I thought I did. It’s just a bit chatty but the core message is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your review was really wonderful. i think what impressed me was the honesty of your emotions, and some quotes from the book that were memorable.

    When going through personal crisis our feelings are so strong that it is hard to believe that there will come a time when the pain is gone, the events are diminished by time, and that we can move forward, having shed the myriad of feelings that weighed us down. But it can happen, and will happen. One day you may be surprised to wake up and realize that the bad feelings are simply gone, they no longer exist. It’s not to say that you don’t remember, but the emotions connected to those memories have lost their power.

    Thank you for your very personal review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heidi, thank you for sharing an enlightening thought. I was moved to read this: “One day you may be surprised to wake up and realize that the bad feelings are simply gone, they no longer exist. It’s not to say that you don’t remember, but the emotions connected to those memories have lost their power.”

      And, that’s the hope that drive me. The hope that everything will be okay one day, and I will feel real again.

      Many thanks for all the love.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You also reviewed it – thanks.
    I have 2 distinct impressions about LG
    – one is where she is honest and seems to write from her heart,
    – the other, where she seems to be trying too much to convey her feelings, but somehow they don’t come out right; they fail to touch / connect (with me). I too didn’t finish the love part of her story.

    Reading your praises about Big Magic, I’m tempted to take it up (if I have time left after reading blogs).

    PS: Incidentally, one of the reasons (probably the only reason) why I keep visiting this blog is the honesty with which it is written.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There, there – you know that I like your expressive prose, your quoting of the most relevant passages in the context of the post, your zen doodles, and most certainly your stories about Calvin and Boo.
    PS: Ah! What to do with these tantrummy nieces.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have this one on my shelf but haven’t read it yet. I’m glad that despite your skepticism you ended up loving this one. There’s nothing like reading a book that gets you. One that touches your soul and let’s you know you’re not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve had this book on my shelves so long that it’s actually one of the titles my ex kept when my own relationship failed. He kept my books hostage if you can believe that crap. In short, I would love to try this one, but I might get to Big Magic first. Wonderful, thoughtful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andi, he kept your books hostage? I am so glad you walked out of that relationship.

      Anybody who treats us bad, and ill-treat our books should be fed to Death Eaters. 😉

      And, I am curious to read your thoughts on ‘Big Magic’. I loved that book. 🙂

      Like

  8. I think that relating a book to your own experiences is one of several valid and valuable ways read. Another way to put it is that books like this can be good for you.

    You mentioned one of several reasons that books, and other art forms can be helpful, they cam remind us that we are not the only people in the old experiencing something.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ah, I love this book. And I agree with what you said at the end of your review that she gives words to some of your painful, private struggles. She did the same for me though my personal experience wasn’t the same as hers. I much preferred the Bali parts though. Oh! Those were my favorite parts. I just love that I could feel her emotions through the pages and connect with her.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Haha, Deepika, though please don’t take that the wrong way because in no way am I laughing at the pain you’ve experienced. I admire your openness and honesty, and the way you are working through it all. But, I did laugh at this ‘So, I told the Amazon guys, “Shut up, and take my money!”’. You’ve still got – or re-found – a sense of humour. Good for you. I haven’t read this book but I’m glad that having given Amazon some money it seems like it was worthwhile for you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Well now I want to know what the 10 points made by the plumber/poet were!

    I read the book years ago, but don’t remember the insights very well as it was before I used to write about books, but I remember I really enjoyed it. I read it when it was something of a word of mouth sensation and hadn’t yet become mainstream. Back then everyone was whispering, you should read this, it’s incredible – and then when it went mainstream, the whispers dried up as the shouting critics lambasted it. It’s so sad when that happens, because books like this help so many people to realise they are not the only person going through similar things.

    I really loved all the quotes you shared and the honesty in which you reviewed it and of course you should have reviewed it, it has nothing to do with how many other people have already done so, no one can combine your experience with the reading of a book, you always bring something unique to the page and you will have inspired someone to read it I am sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for all the kind words, Claire. 🙂 The blurb on my copy read that ladies’ whispered about it, and copies were shared generously. Oh yes, the critics were harsh.

      I am glad I read it. I will never forget some parts of the book. And, I complete buy your view on inspiring someone to read it.

      Thank you for reading, Claire. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Fabulous, I mean FABULOUS!!! review and a big thank you for the reminder that some books aren’t for everybody but some can be perfect for that one who just might need a nugget or two. or three. I was one that read this book before ANY buzz and really liked it and then got all confused by how very harsh all the voices who later lambasted it. THIS review was a joy to read but sad, too, but mostly joyful that you are finding ropes to pull yourself out of dark places when you fall in. Would that be accurate?
    I REALLY loved The Signature of All Things and can’t wait to read Big Magic.
    Don’t forget: March 2nd is Banana Cream Pie Day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Care, for visiting, and writing that lovely comment. 🙂 I am surely going to read ‘The Signature of All Things’. I want to know how Gilbert sounds in her novels. And, I hope you like ‘Big Magic’.

      I am excited about Banana Cream Pie Day. 🙂 How can I make it special? 🙂

      Like

  13. I read and liked Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert, from back before she became a famous writer, and I just finally listened to The Signature of All Things and skimmed through Big Magic, but I still haven’t broken down and read Eat, Pray, Love! I’m not into praying, and I think that’s why. Maybe I should give it a chance, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for dropping by, Laurie. 🙂

      If you are not into praying, then I am not sure if you would enjoy the book.

      Did you like ‘The Signature of All Things’? That’s the one I want to read next.

      Like

  14. So you’re a Gilbert fan… 🙂 I’m glad to see you liked it so much.
    Six years ago, when I read this, I gave it 3 stars. It was OK, and the movie was really nice, but like you said, there was something that didn’t really fit in with that whole I-need-to–be-by-myself image she was trying to project. Or maybe we are too harsh on her. Love doesn’t ask if you’re available or not, it just rushes in. 🙂
    I very much want to read The Last American Man, another one of her books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am a Gilbert fan, Delia. 🙂 But, only after Cheryl Strayed though.

      I look forward to reading your review of her next book. Which one should I read next? The Last American Man, or The Signature of All Things? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. The power of a good book is the way it compels us to talk about it 🙂 I’ve heard a lot about the book but still haven’t started reading it. I absolutely fell in love with the way you reviewed it and it mirrors the style of another blogger I greatly admire. Perhaps I will connect you two.

    Since it is my first time here, I obviously have not heard about your failed marriage. So it’s fine if you choose to talk about it again 🙂 My sympathies for the situation and my empathy at the depression. I know. It’s hard. So glad to have found you or rather glad you found me and led me back to you. Hugs 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. That’s a nice review Deepika. I like your honesty, and I like how you write. As for reading Gilbert, I think she be helpful to people. She’s a smart lady who was in search of herself in a time of trouble. So many can relate.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. So glad you decided to write about the book because even if it does seem like everyone has written about it already and what could you possibly say differently, you have done exactly that. Your experience of reading the book is different from all the others and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m so glad to read your review, because I have always had a bad taste in my mouth from this book — without ever having read it! It seems you had that, too, but went ahead and read it (ate it?) anyway, and found that is has a lot of value. Perhaps I will end up reading it eventually, and it will be because of you.

    Liked by 1 person

I love reading your comments! :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s