Wednesday, June 04, 2008
eat, pray, love
"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. If you don't you will leak away your innate contentment. It's easy enough to pray when you're in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments."
Eat, Pray, Love p. 260
You've already heard of this book. It's a hit memoir that women around the country have been devouring for a couple of years. It even has a fansite!
It requires some suspension of disbelief to get into it at first. Following a grueling divorce and all the identity & faith issues tangled up in that, the author takes off for a year in Italy, India, & Indonesia. Sound like your life? Or anyone you know? Me neither. So we accept that and move into her descriptions, dripping with flavor and feeling, the new people in her life, and her reflections and discoveries. Then she does start to sound real, accessible, and relevant.
Her time in each location took a different focus: Italy was about pleasure; India about devotion; Indonesia about balancing the two. These three are significant themes for me too. In recent years I struggle to remember what gives me pleasure or what pleasure is worth. Her stories of Italy keened my own senses to recognize and value pleasure in my life. The question of devotion has risen a few times in this blog, so reading about the effort she exerted to stay put in the ashram in India (& with herself) to practice meditation and all struggle and transformation that wrought challenged me to push myself (a little) more. Balance is where the two extremes cooperate in one life. For me, for a spiritual path to be real and valid it must be possible for a regular person, working a job, living as part of a family.
Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat, Pray, Love. New York: Viking. 2006