It was a lazy Sunday afternoon when I was flipping channels on tv. I saw Julia Roberts on one of them, so I stopped. It was the movie Eat, Pray, Love. I did stumble upon the movie by chance but buying the book and reading it, was all a matter of personal choice. The sole reason of purchase being that I wanted to relish every dialogue, grip every word and absorb every emotion, at my pace!
It wasn’t a disappointing choice at all.
Eat, Pray, Love is a “self searching – self discovery” memoir of American Author – Elizabeth Gilbert.
The book is structured into 3 sections, each describing her transcendent experiences in the 3 Is: Italy, India and Indonesia. In this quest for supreme balance, her effort to further divide the book into a total of 108 chapters being an apt representation of the 108 beads of the Japa Mala, is commendable to her skills as an author.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s story is that of most 21st century women who succumb to the beliefs of conventional society, that a woman in her thirties should have a job, a husband, and a large house. The only hitch was that she wasn’t happy and felt like a fish out of water in her apparently ‘perfect life’. She shares with the readers her ultimate moment of anguish where she is down in supplication on the bathroom floor crying her eyes out, at the unearthly hour of 3 am.
Her sojourn to the three Is begins with EATing her way into the pleasures of Italy where she learns to speak Italian ‘because of the way it makes her feel’, relish Italian cuisine and also helps the readers locate where the best pizza in the world can be found!!
Her journey of fervent PRAYer, channels her devotion in India as a spiritual seeker, living in an ashram and finding refuge in practicing the art of meditation. It is here that she has her tryst with self discovery by finding ‘that one word that describes her’ and the spiritual revelation that ‘God dwells within you, as you’. This epiphany is the turning point of her path that brightens up her murky hole of bottomless grief.
Neither keen to become a monk nor a junkie, her final destination of finding balance in Indonesia, between pleasure and devotion guides her into finding the LOVE of her life.
The chronicles of Elizabeth Gilbert using three straightforward words as the title – Eat Pray Love, portrays the message of finding bliss in the simple constituents of the universe. Evidently, Elizabeth Gilbert is incredibly well read and her background research throughout the book surely enhances your knowledge. I had no idea that words like om namah shivaya meant ‘I honour the divinity that resides within me’!! The ‘in-your-face’ frankness about her most intimate feelings of ‘merciless devaluation of self’ and ‘Operation self esteem’ narrated through her wry humour and friendly style of writing keeps the book light hearted from the very first page.
The book will seize anyone with the strong need to get rid of their despair and disdain through introspection and spiritual seeking. The book mostly attracts a female audience because the core of her story lies in a journey of female empowerment.
Through the narration of specific incidents, Elizabeth Gilbert also tells you so much that can be inculcated and practiced in our everyday lives. For example the toothless medicine man teaches an easy meditation of smiling with your face, with your mind and even smiling from your liver!! Or you could also write a petition to God about any obstacle in your happiness and ask the universe to virtually sign it!!!
While some may find the book to have too much of whining, emotional drama and self pity, it can be a leap of faith and a ray of hope to anyone seeking bliss from the worries of the 21st century through divine grace and willful self effort.