Eat Pray Love – Are you a lover or a hater?

Book Reviews, Feature, Indonesia, Reviews — By on September 4, 2010 12:43 PM

Eat Pray Love … the three little words that can inspire and infuriate. You love or you hate. The movie based on the best-selling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert recently aired on the big screen. I have always like Julia Roberts but don’t think she was not best choice for the part and felt the movie lacked the spiritual and emotional weight of the book that inspired it. But then again, has a movie ever been better than the book?

In the unlikely event that you have somehow stumbled upon my travel blog, and you have never read the book or seen the movie – here is the gist of the story. Liz hopes a year of soul-searching travel around the globe will not only help her recover from a failed relationship, but will also grant her the much needed opportunity to explore herself for the first time in her life.

Who would not be inspired by a theme of self-discovery and the pursuit of happiness and a balanced life? Apparently, there are quite a few haters out there who not only despise the story but also go as far as to pass judgment on the personal character of the author. Many find Liz to be “self indulgent and whiny”. Another claimed that “Eat Pray Love will make you vomit, curse, hate.” Seriously? I will never understand people who question the life choices of another. This is perhaps my biggest pet peeve!


But seriously, why all the animosity?

Perhaps you have an allergy to gluten and can’t stomach the thought of Liz stuffing her face with delicious Italian pasta? Perhaps you have ADD and cannot last through five seconds of meditation in an Indian Ashram? Or maybe you have an aversion to warm sand between your toes and the sight of the sun setting over the ocean in Indonesia hurts your eyes?

I think the answer is quite simple. JEALOUSY.

There are few people in this world who have the guts to go after what they want despite what society says they should do. Don’t hate on Liz, be mad at yourself for falling victim to fear and or the illusions of a conventional life.

Or maybe you just don’t like the book for other reasons and that is fine – don’t read it, don’t watch the movie, and don’t hate on Liz, it’s just not nice.

So here is a shout out to Liz, for having the courage to face her true self and tell such a raw personal account of her shortcomings and personal growth struggles with an endearing self-deprecating humor.

I should pause here and acknowledge that I may have a stronger affection to the book than most because of the events that were transpiring in my life at the time I read her story. EPL was an assigned book club reading and I had no idea at the time the story would so strongly resonate with me and ultimately inspire my initial wanderlust. In 2007 I took the book and my broken heart to Costa Rica hoping a beautiful beach, solitude, and helping others would aid in the recovery of what will go down in the books as my colasal breakup. Well, here’s hoping no one trumps that one! KNOCK ON WOOD.

While it has been over three years since my trip to Costa Rica, I was very much reminded of that time in my life as I watched the EPL movie. That mini-two week vacation combined with a burning desire to be alone, to be selfish, and to discover what makes me happy ultimately inspired me to travel the world for a year. I did not replicate Liz’s journey, but I did find inspiration and understanding in the unique opportunity that travel offers to those who are willing to explore the world with an open-mind. It is by placing yourself outside of your comfort zone that you will find what you think you know, what you think you want, and who you think you are, to be challenge to the core. I am not saying that there are not other ways besides to individually grow and valuable life lessons can certainly be learned on your own shore. But I am saying to each their own and wishing happiness and balance to everyone, even you EPL haters.

When I got home from watching the movie, I pulled out my dusty copy of Eat Pray Love. I thumbed through the pages and was surprised by the dozens of dog-eared pages and the many highlighted passages that obviously had deeply spoke to me at a very transformative time in my life. The words did then as they still do now, voice similar life experiences and thoughts.

Below are my favorite passages from the book Eat Pray Love.

Thoughts on love/relationships ~

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is 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.”

“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.”

“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 the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.”

“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…”

“I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.”

“In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place.”

“To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life.”

“This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.”

“My love affair with (him) had a wonderful element of romance to it, which I will always cherish. But it was not an infatuation, and here’s how I can tell: because I did not demand that he become my Great Emancipator or my Source of All Life, nor did I immediately vanish into that man’s chest cavity like a twisted, unrecognizable, parasitical homunculus. During our long period of courtship, I remained intact within my own personality, and I allowed myself to meet (him) for who he was.”

Thoughts on happiness ~

“My Guru says that people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you’re fortunate enough. But that’s not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”

“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. “

Thoughts on meditation & divinity ~

“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 center of my life, there came a great fountain.”

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”

“I was full of a hot, powerful sadness and would have loved to burst into the comfort of tears, but tried hard not to, remembering something my Guru once said — that you should never give yourself a chance to fall apart because, when you do, it becomes a tendency and it happens over and over again. You must practice staying strong, instead.”

“The ingredients of both darkness and light are equally present in all of us …The madness of this planet is largely a result of the human being’s difficulty in coming to virtuous balance with himself. “

“Look for God like a man with his head on fire looks for water.”

“Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark.”

“The Augusteum warns me not to get attached to any obsolete ideas about who I am, what I represent, whom I belong to, or what function I may once have intended to serve.”

“I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the ‘monkey mind’ — the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl.”

“You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.”

“There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life-whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.”

Thoughts on travel and conventional life ~

“Still, despite all this, traveling is the great true love of my life. I have always felt, ever since I was sixteen years old and first went to Russia with my saved-up babysitting money, that to travel is worth any cost or sacrifice. I am loyal and constant in my love for travel, as I have not always been loyal and constant in my other loves. I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless, newborn baby–I just don’t care what it puts me through. Because I adore it. Because it’s mine. Because it looks exactly like me. It can barf all over me if it wants to–I just don’t care.”

“But why must everything have a practical application? I’d been such a diligent soldier for years – working, producing, never missing a deadline, taking care of my loved ones, my gums and my credit record, voting, etc. Is this lifetime supposed to be only about duty? In this dark period of loss, did I need any justification for learning Italian other than that it was the only thing I could imagine bringing me any pleasure right now?”

Other great quotes ~

“See, now that’s your problem. You’re wishin’ too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.”

“Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.”

“God never slams a door in your face without opening a box of Girl Scout cookies.”

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  1. Kristin says:

    Excellent post Kelly – your thoughts are right on and funny. I read EPL to feel like I wasn’t crazy when I decided to travel and heal. Thank you for sharing and pulling out such good advice from the book!

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