Eat, Pray, Love: Thoughts and Things I Took Away

I can't say how much reading Eat, Pray, Love by Liz Gilbert has changed my life. I know how cliche this must sound but if I will be asked if there was any book that affected me, influenced me on so many levels, this would be it. And I know for a fact that I am not the only one.

For the uninitiated, the book is Liz Gilbert's memoir, chronicling her year of traveling Italy {to learn the pleasure of eating}, India {to learn how to pray} and to Indonesia {to fall in love, quite unpremeditated, though}. It is a book of self-discovery, of finding herself and letting go. When I first saw it on Amazon, I did not think it would be a real good book. I had the reservation of judging it as another self-help book full of new age mumbo jumbo where one would tell you you're awesome without a basis.

And so I put it on the backburner for a while, with the tag Read Only When Bored, Just to See What the Fuss is All About.On one Saturday we all made a roadtrip within Quezon City, and then to Marikina, where my friend lives, his wife R asked if I ever read the book. When I told her I haven't, she told me, "Here, take my book. It's a good read." {a month after, she flew to Italy and had two scoops of gelato every day, how's that for being inspired?}

I started reading Eat, Pray, Love the night that I went home with it, bringing it with me everywhere and finishing it roughly in around two weeks. Unlike other books, I was in no hurry to finish it and find out the ending because I decided I wanted to savor the moment and the words. When I read the first line of the book {I wish Giovanni would kiss me.} I knew I had a new favorite book.

In a recent Facebook exchange I had with some of my girlfriends, we talked about what books they could read next and if I only have one to recommend, I reiterate, this would be it, for the following reasons:

  • It feels like having long, meaningful conversations with a girlfriend. Except that it's kinda one way, of course. Liz Gilbert writes in a way that is fairly conversational, just how you would be over coffee on a Sunday afternoon. She writes about her then pending divorce, the men twins whom she wished would just kiss her, the discovery of making friends in a foreign land, among others, in detail that is not boring nor dragging.
  • I'm not perfect. And so is she. I guess reading too many management and marketing books, I couldn't help but feel refreshed that this book is teeming with Liz's fumbles, breaking down in tears after realizing she wants a divorce. I burst into tears myself {well, what do you expect?} when I came across her experience of wanting to be out. Not because there was anything wrong about her husband, it was because she just did not see herself anymore going through "better or worse." Breakups or divorce are already messed up, as it is. It's even more painstaking when you have no concrete and better reason than just "I don't want to be in the relationship anymore."
  • Selfishness can be good, too. I'm narcissistic, she is, too. This book and I, we're so perfect I want to marry it. Truly, when Liz recounts how the word pleasure was given new meaning in Italy, she meant it in the IMO, most gluttonous way possible, she gained 23 pounds until she left. It's a memoir, so expect a lot about her life, what she sees and what she feels, damn it. If you expect an all-knowing 30 something woman dishing out advice, you won't find it here.
  • It's never too early, or in this case, too late, to start living. Granted, Liz Gilbert was paid in advance to undergo this adventure of a lifetime, but as friends who have moved out of the Philippines have told me, "Money is one thing. The emotional 'packing' that comes with it is usually the one that takes too long." I had been battling with my own worries and wants of moving away. Luckily, my options have eliminated finances as one of the worries but truly, the good life, of being in the comfort of good friends whom you can go on in 24 hours talking to and having beers with, a great career that would make your seven year old self proud and okay, things, new places, people you get to know everyday, enough to make your little heart flutter are quite hard to leave even with the promise of diving into unknown waters and even more adventures. But I'm working on that. Even without this book, I've been feeling kinda Manila-is-getting-too-small-for-me vibe {that's me, take it or leave it}. Hence, this project.
  • I was not alone being always quick to love.
"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, but to assume that everyone is 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 then I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for a man to ascend to his own greatness.

Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism."
Liz Gilbert

If there was any passage in the book that struck closest to home, that would be it. I was kind of hoping it would me more than about love, or falling in love, or something about God and meditation but I think I have discovered and nurtured my faith earlier than the author have. The thing is, in my head, I always think a guy whom I have been dating will be kind enough, will learn to complement my weird, quirky, sometimes wicked ways at one point in our lives, and that I will willingly wait for it. When I made a big decision, that is return to being single, I had a lot of moments to think about my previous relationships, all men who was different from who they were in reality than they were in my mind. Call it selective memory but I have suffered long enough for that. Can't say I'd do better next time but slowly, I'm learning not to overcompensate people men who come into my life just because I know deep down they're nice or will be nice to be with or because I'm alone and it could get lonely. With the help of friends {I have the awesome-st friends, it's unbelievable sometimes}I get by and realize my own worth every single day. And they help me look at things with a little less optimism.

  • I learned that in order to achieve happiness, one must acknowledge loneliness. Once achieved, the work is not yet done, for it's a conscious, consistent effort. The book was Liz Gilbert's journey from sadness to happiness, and truly, happiness does not come easy. I learned that there was no way around being sad, but don't live in it. Well, acknowledge it, 'make a map of it,' her friend Sofie says. Personally, I've had struggles in keeping my sadness to my own, as one wise man have told me once, in an effort to pull me up from misery, "Stop being a drama queen. No one cares." He helped me acknowledge my sadness and today, I'm in a state of constantly swimming upwards, towards things that make me happy.
Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it and sometimes even travel around the world for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved you must take a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat it.
  • It's never too late to have real friends. I used to say that only my friends whom I've known since high school {through college and till we all worked} are the ones I'll ever be considering as my real friends forever {what can I say, I'm a little provincial sometimes}. When I started working, and exploring the world and being more open, I realized that just because you've known someone so long doesn't mean you'd have to stay that way. I have learned to let some new people into my life, people who have exerted conscious effort to stay in touch, to be kind, to provide comfort. I have weeded out those who have time and again, let me down and well, just didn't seem to be into the friendship. Liz Gilbert, in the friendships she has developed with Luca Spaghetti {I know, right?} and Wayan among others, have taught me that.
  • Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full speed into the dark. Or learning that faith is not memorizing prayers, or knowing the words to canned prayers, or giving donations or what it says on that box in your birth certificate. It's a relationship, something one nurtures on his own with Him, in his own pace, own ways. While early on, I didn't have the problem of being confused if indeed there was a God, I have been struggling to look beyond Catholicism, through its twisted rulings and impractical impositions. I want to delve more into this topic but I'm not yet ready for the time being. What I know is, I am consistently communicating with Him, have consciously been building up my faith there is none, not even science, to make it crumble.
  • Really, sometimes, you just don't think anymore. I don't know, just pack and go? Despite all the nagging fears of living a fabulous life, I do recognize the glaring fact that I have not much to leave behind, being 24 now, I feel that I have much room for adventure, for trying out things, for leaving, because no one's life is anchored on me. It's a privilege that's waiting to be used.
Overall Comment: Some parts may be dragging for some who may not like to read about whiny women, or self-serving thoughts. But if you'd like that, or you think you'd benefit from it {which I truly have}, go ahead and read it. It's a wonderfully written book.


Have you read it? What do you think?