I opine

Eat, Pray, Love: A Companion Piece

Posted in books by jaeminuf on August 19, 2008
One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

Today I finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search For Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.

My sister had lent me her copy many months ago now because she thought I might find it helpful in my search for bearing, for I had been raging at the world, thoroughly grief-stricken, unmoored and topsy-turvy, unsure if I would ever reengage with this world with its treacherous minefields, precarious precipices, and sometimes unforeseeable and almost always disregarded quicksands.

I read Gilbert’s account of her journeys in such a way that the first two stages of my own life of late coincided almost perfectly with the stages Gilbert experienced and described. When she indulged in Italian pastries in order to reacquaint herself with the basic pleasures that life and humanity had to offer, I was just emerging from a period of giving myself over to music and dance because, frankly, I needed a beat other than that of my own heart to sustain me, a rhythm by which to ensure there would be a tomorrow, and the electric charge of the dancing and the fêting to jolt me repeatedly into the world of the living. When she turned herself over to the austere discipline of an Indian ashram in search of the divine within, I dove headlong into eight, nearly backbreaking months of trying, as if my life depended on it, to motivate and teach the hyphenated youth of America as a part of my own move toward order, discipline, and the divine, if you can see teaching as life-giving and life-affirming as it has been for me.

This past weekend, I finished reading her section on India and today her account of Indonesia, specifically Bali. Or Love. Like Gilbert, like Elizabeth, for quite some time now, this Elizabeth also has practiced unsparing self-denial. I’ve repeatedly passed up opportunities to forge potentially meaningful bonds in order not to lose my religion easily yet again. As a matter of fact, I am still in my India. About to depart, but the date of departure is not yet here. My most demanding, most rigorous tasks still remain. Only upon finishing those, hopefully finishing those, will I contemplate what may lie ahead. For now, I still remain in the present.

That said, I am grateful to have had a kind of company in my journey. That my much cherished sister introduced me to a travel companion whose itinerary has paralleled my own in so many ways. I hope that there is a Bali ahead for me, a Ketut, a Wayan, a Tutti, and an older me willing me into becoming myself.

For now, I am thankful. That is enough.

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