Monday, December 10, 2007

Review: Eat, Pray, Love

I've been meaning to transfer some of my better posts from my Spaces blog to this one, and since Eat, Pray, Love was recently featured on Oprah and seems to be the talk of the town, I figured I'd start the transfer with this one.

This review was originally posted on August 25, 2006 at Weight of My World.

I know I promised a full review when I finished this book, which I actually did more than a week ago, but I’ve been allowing it to marinate in my mind and heart for a while, and I decided a typical book review won’t do it justice.

Elizabeth Gilbert opened herself up to what the world (and God) had to offer her, and it’s because of that openness that I can honestly say I learned something about myself through her journey. I may not have been able to travel with her physically, but I found myself taking a trip of my own as I flipped the pages and wandered through the chapters of her life. So, instead of doing a typical review, where I tell you how great this book was (and it was great) or talk about its themes and literary value, I want to tell you what I learned:
  1. I want to travel and experience other cultures and places, not as a tourist does, but as a native does. I want to live here and there, for months at a time, and learn the daily routines and rituals of those who have walked the streets long before I arrived and will continue to do so long after I’m gone.
  2. Sometimes we’ll experience pain and loss so great that we’ll believe we can’t go on. But somewhere in the midst of it all, something will push us forward, and when we start to move, amazing, miraculous things will happen for us. It will take time and it will take work, but healing and life will begin to flow in our veins again if we follow that gentle prodding.
  3. It’s ok to experience pleasure. In fact, it’s negligent and abusive not to provide yourself with a little tender-loving-care every now and then. “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.”
  4. Learning to be free is hard work. It’s tough for some people to discover their own freedom to experience life, to laugh, to dream, to succeed, to discover, to travel, to just be.
  5. Yoga is about union. It’s about connecting—connecting your mind with your body, your spirit with your God, your energy with that of your neighbor’s or your community’s. As a Christian, I used to believe that practicing Yoga would draw me away from God. I now realize that Yoga isn’t a religion meant to replace my current belief system. Instead, I learned that it’s the practice of uniting yourself with the world around you, be that spiritual, physical, emotional or otherwise. I can use Yoga to connect with whomever or whatever I choose—Jesus, Buddha, or the ground under my feet.
  6. I’ve already written too much, so I won’t get into the specifics, but I learned a lot about faith and devotion. I learned about prayer and peace, diligence and restfulness, confidence and humility, love and living. I learned that we each have “the right to not stop seeking until we get as close to the source of wonder as possible.”

I didn’t start reading this book with the expectation of having some sort of religious experience or spiritual awakening. I bought it because the idea of traveling for a year caught my attention, and the quality and style of the writing held it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of the struggles I’m going through, Elizabeth Gilbert has been through, too. Our situations may not have been the same, but as I read, I was reminded that there is a cord of humanity that binds each and every one of us together. Knowing that there are others who question and struggle and dig their way out of the holes they’ve buried themselves in gives me at least a little comfort when I find myself pulling out my own handy-dandy shovel, yet again.

So, if you’ve ever been through a tough divorce, experienced a major loss, or found yourself in the midst of a spiritual crisis, I’d suggest you check out this book. I believe that there's something for everyone in its pages. It’s full of fantastic images (some unique and some clich├ęd) and raw emotion, experiences of the senses and of the heart and soul. I won’t say that everyone will enjoy every part of it, but I think you just might find a nugget of wisdom, a guiding word, or a gently written nudge at the exact moment you need it. I know I did.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I didn't like it so much. I thought she was overly self-indulgent, self-centered, and pedantic.

It just wasn't the book for me.

I'm so glad, though, that you were able to find things in it that spoke to you.

Bina said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by. I have read Something Blue. I loved that whole story with both girls... it was really interesting. Have you read Emily Giffin's "new" one? It is called Baby Plan. It is pretty good.

katy said...

Thanks, Ami. I needed some new books on my library list!

Ami said...

dawn - I've heard similar opinions from others. I think I was in a place when I read it where it was able to speak to me, no matter what the writing style.

katy - Hope you like it! (I have it if you want to borrow...)

Ami said...

bina - I've read the new on, too. I've really liked all of her books so far. I hope she writes another one soon.

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