Saturday, June 2, 2012

Redeeming Lady Card with Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

My reading time has been on the back burner for a bit as I help get my mom settled into her new apartment but let's see if I can get back on track here. I now have my mom's personal library close by, with my mom and I already talking about doing book swaps so I'm excited to see what interesting finds she leads me to talk about here!

Right before this big move, I spent a few days tapping into my estrogen reserves, broke down and finally read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Not normally the type of book I gravitate towards, but I pride myself on being open-minded about books (a good story is a good story, genre aside) and  I had  heard SO much talk about this book, I started to feel like if I didn't give it a once over, I'd have to turn in my woman card lol.

author Elizabeth Gilbert

Just as there exists in writing a literal truth and a poetic truth, there also exists in a human being a literal anatomy and a poetic anatomy. One, you can see; one, you cannot. One is made of bones and teeth and flesh; the other is made of energy and memory and faith. But they are both equally true.  ~ Gilbert's neuroscient buddy, Bob

Gilbert's real life husband, Felipe, featured in the "Love" part of Eat, Pray, Love

I was just sorta "meh" about this one. Some things I liked and related to, other things she talked about left me thinking "REALLY? That's what you're bitching about??" There was a slight air of self-indulgence over everything but, like I've said before, that's not uncommon in a memoir. It's hard to have a fair opinion of all she talks about because we only hear her side. It leaves the reader wondering "Well, what happened though?" I thought it was kinda messed up for her to be like "Yeah, my marriage failed but I don't really want to get into it." Umm, thought the marriage failing / holy-crap-I'm-thirty freak out was the inspiration for the trip? Maybe some details so we understand better where you're coming from? Not saying she has to full on bash her ex, but just something to help us feel for her? The way she left it just made it seem like she was unhappy with the men in her life for not living up to some romance novel ideal. 

For all things related to this book visit 

So given my reaction to this book, I was surprised to find that TIME magazine listed Gilbert as one of the 100 most influential people of 2008. Seriously? I'm guessing this year will be E.L. James for the Grey trilogy?? It wasn't Gilbert so much that impressed me but all the people she met in her travels, particularly the guru she goes to interview that starts the whole idea for her trip.  Struggling with her feelings about her marriage, Gilbert finds herself appealing to God for help, though she admits she was not what one might call devout. The guru tells her, "You must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart instead. That way, you will know God." Being one who thinks more with her heart than her head myself, as hard as it's been sometimes, hearing a guru say this was reassuring to me that I was on the right path, for me anyway. But then Gilbert says the guru also told her "let your conscience be your guide" and then   I couldn't stop humming that damn Jiminy Cricket song lol. 

Something to think about next time you say "Ciao" to someone...
Gilbert explains that the word is actually an abbreviation of a 
medieval Venetian phrase meant as an "intimate salutation" - 
"Sono il suo schiavo!" translating to "I am your slave!"

Even if I didn't understand Gilbert's reasoning with the way she navigated through relationships, she did have some nice, feel-good sentiments to share here and there. They may sound a little greeting card-ish but still, regardless of how it's presented, it's the sentiment that's important to remember, such as when she realizes:

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. 

The sentiment here is something I try to guide my life by every day :-) When I get stressed, I often lose track of this philosophy, but somehow it always finds me again in whatever I'm reading. Isn't that bizarre how something in a book will find you that way, when you're not really expecting it but deep down it's the time when you most need to hear it again?

Gilbert says this is a favorite song of hers
that kept coming to mind during this 
spiritual journey she writes about

clipart courtesy of iStockPhoto

"You can do Yoga, but yoga," he says, "but Yoga too hard." Here, he contorts himself in a cramped lotus position and squinches up his face in a comical and constipated-looking effort. Then he breaks free and laughs, asking "Why they always look so serious in Yoga? You make serious face like this, you scare away good energy. To meditate, only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy. Even smile in your liver."

And this is coming from a guru :-) Though that "smile with your liver" bit could be interpreted a number of ways by some of my more pardy-hardy friends lol.

The information on Thursday children was interesting to me, being one myself. I grew up with the poem that vaguely states "Thursday's child has far to go", I like the guru's details better!:

...the patron god of children born on Thursdays is Shiva the Destroyer, and the day has two guiding animal spirits -- the lion and the tiger {no bear? ;-)}. The official tree of children born on Thursday is the banyan. The official bird is the peacock {I had peacock feathers in my wedding bouquet!}. A person born on Thursday is always talking first, interrupting everyone else {hey now, lol}, can be a little aggressive, tends to be handsome (a playboy or playgirl in Ketut's words) {well, lucky husband o' mine!} but has a decent overall character, with an excellent memory and a desire to help other people. 

So I'm glad I read it for the introduction to the humorous and wise guru, Ketut Liyer even if I didn't always agree with or understand where Gilbert was going with her story. But it's her story. Though with one simple passage, she did leave me wanting to run off to Rome and find some nice bench with a pile of books!

 Later in the day, I found a library. Dear me, how I love a library. Because we are in Rome, this library is a beautiful old thing, and within it there is a courtyard garden which you'd never have guessed existed if you'd only looked at the place from the street. The garden is a perfect square, dotted with orange trees, and in the center, a fountain... It was not carved of imperial marble ... this was a small green, mossy, organic fountain. It was like a shaggy, leaking bush of ferns.... The water shot up out of the center of this flowering shrub, then rained back down on the leaves, making a melancholy lovely sound throughout the whole courtyard. I found a seat under an orange tree and opened one of the poetry books I'd purchased yesterday. 

My kind of heaven :-) If any of my readers have been to Rome and have ideas of where this library / courtyard might be (not specified in book), please let me know! I have whole list of places I'd like to see once finances allow and Rome is on that list. 

Happy Reading!