April 24, 2010
A friend gave me the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert as a gift. On the inside cover she wrote the following inscription: “On our quest to find everything we are looking for.” Huh. So this book is going to help me find love, success, a rewarding career, and a life full of passion? Awesome!
The description on the back of the book reads: “In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want – a husband, country home, successful career – but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.”
I LOVE this book. I think Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing style is engaging, witty, self-deprecating, and relatable. She had me hook, line, and sinker in this book, and I was more than happy to follow her on her journey – if even only as a reader from the distance of my living room. I think I particularly like this book because in addition to liking her voice and the story line, I relate to the idea of struggling to find the balance between wanting to enjoy materialistic pleasures, while feeding the soul at the same time. Early in the book she says: “What if you could somehow create an expansive enough life that you could synchronize seemingly incongruous opposites into a worldview that excludes nothing? … I wanted worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence – the dual glories of human life.” Perhaps it’s the Libra in me, but I like the idea that you can have both – that it’s possible to find that balance.
There are many lines in this book that resonated with me. One part in particular that I’d like to share is: “There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under my 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 eat and read 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 (and on the occasions when I can’t rise to the most optimistic viewpoint, because I’m feeling too damn sorry for myself, I can choose to keep trying to change my outlook). 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. This last concept is a radically new idea for me. … You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select what clothes you’re gonna wear 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. Drop everything else but that. Because if you can’t learn to master your thinking, you’re in deep trouble forever.”
This struck a chord in me. I can decide who I share my time and energy with. I can decide how I choose to view things that happen in life. And if I really work at it, I can learn to control my thoughts, thereby controlling my outlook and life experience. I like the sound of that. And on a side note, I am starting to detect a common theme in the books that I am currently attracting to me. The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, also talks a lot about how your thoughts and feelings affect your life. Hmmm, could the universe be trying to tell me something?