Eat, Pray, Love

"In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want - 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 wordy enjoyment and divine transcendence."

I read this book 3 or 4 years ago so this book review is long past due.  
Most of the time books don't live up to all of the hype they receive, but to me, this one surpassed all expectations.  Elizabeth Gilbert's experiences and writing style drew me in completely.  I feel like I know her personally after her sincere and genuine account of this phase of her life.  Seeing someone in her position give up the life she knew for the one she wanted is pretty incredible.  After reading her story she has me wanting to take a vow of silence at an Ahsram in India, befriend a healer in Bali and learn Italian while living in Italy.  More than that though, she offered advice that really struck a cord within me and has helped me shape the way I view certain experiences in life.  Her story was inspiring and encouraging.   Just read the excessively long quote section to see a bit of what I mean.  I highly encourage everyone to read this book (especially women).
PS. I did not care for the movie.  It was nice, but did not do the book justice at all.  


Page 18, “In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place.

But, oh, we had such a great time together during those early months when he was still my romantic hero and I was still his living dream.  It was excitement and compatibility like I’d never imagined.  We invented our own language.  We went on day trips and road trips.  We hiked to the top of things, swam to the bottom of other things, planned the journeys across the world we would take together.  We had more fun waiting in line together at the Department of Motor Vehicles than most couples have on their honeymoons.  We gave each other the same nickname, so there would be no separation between us.  We made goals, vows, promises and dinner together.  He read books to me, and he did my laundry.”

Page 20, “The fact is, I had become addicted to David (in my defense, he had fostered this, being something of a 'man-fatale'), and now that his attention was wavering, I was suffering the easily foreseeable consequences.  Addiction is the hallmark of every infatuation –based love story.  It all begins when the object of your adoration bestows upon you a heady, hallucinogenic dose of something you never even dared to admit that you wanted – an emotional speedball, perhaps, of thunderous love and roiling excitement.  Soon you start craving that intense attention, with the hungry obsession of any junkie.  When the drug is withheld, you promptly turn sick, crazy and depleted (not to mention restful of the dealer who encouraged this addiction in the first place but who now refuses to pony up the good stuff anymore – despite the fact that you know he has it hidden somewhere, because he used to give to you for free).  Next stage finds you skinny and shaking in a corner, certain only that you would sell your soul or rob your neighbors just to have that thing even one more time.  Meanwhile, the object of your adoration has now become repulsed by you.  He looks at you like you’re someone he’s never met before, much less someone he once loved with high passion.  The irony is, you can hardly blame him.  I mean, check yourself out.  You’re a pathetic mess, unrecognizable even to your own eyes.  So that’s it.  You have now reached infatuation’s final destination – the complete and merciless devaluation of self.”

Page 29, “The great Sufi poet and philosopher Rumi once advised his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life.  If any item on the list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned you are destined for unhappiness.”

Page 65, “Moreover, I have boundary issues with men.  Or maybe that’s not fair to say.  To have issues with boundaries, one must have boundaries in the first place, right?  But I disappear into the person I love. I am the permeable membrane. If I love you, you can have everything.  You can have my time, my devotion, my money, my family, my dog, my dog’s money, my dog’s time – everything.  If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family.  I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check. I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy is by becoming infatuated with someone else."

Page 137, “My Guru is always encouraging us to practice discipline when it comes to eating.  She encourages us to eat in moderation and without desperate gulps, to not extinguish the sacred fires of our bodies by dumping too much food into our digestive tracts to fast.  When students come to her complaining that they’re having trouble meditation, she always asks how their digestion has been lately.  It only stands to reason that you’ll have trouble gliding lightly into transcendence when your guts are struggling to churn through a sausage calzone, a pound of buffalo wings and half a coconut cream pie.”

Page 149, “Big deal.  So you fell in love with someone.  Don’t you see what happened?  This guy touched a place in your heart deeper than you thought you were capable of reaching, I mean you got zapped, kiddo.   But that love you felt, that’s just the beginning.  You just got a taste of love.  That’s just limited little rinky-dink mortal love.  Wait till you see how much more deeply you can love than that.  Heck – you have the capacity to someday love the whole world.  It’s your destiny.”

“Your problem is you don’t understand what that word means.  People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants.  But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.  A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah.  Too painful. 
David’s purpose was the shake you up, drive you out of that marriage that you needed to leave, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you had to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master and beat it.  That was his job, and he did great, but now it’s over.  Problem is, you can’t accept that this relationship had a real short shelf life.”

Page 150, “So miss him.  Send him some love and light every time you think about him, and then drop it.  You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of David because then you’ll really be alone, and Liz Gilbert is scared to death of what will happen if she’s really alone.  But here’s what you gotta understand.  If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway.  And guess what the universe will do with that doorway?  IT will rush in – God will rush in – and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed.  So stop using David to block that door.  Let it go.”

“See, now that’s your problem.  You’re wishin’ too much, baby.  You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.”

Page 164, “Be a scientist of your own spiritual experience.  You’re not here as a tourist or a journalist, you’re here as a seeker.  So explore it.”

Page 175, “If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be….a prudent insurance policy.”

Page 176, “Of course God already knows what I need. The question is – do I know?  Casting yourself at God’s feet in helpless desperation is all well and good – heaven knows, I’ve done it to myself plenty of times  but ultimately you’re likely to get more out of the experience if you can take some action on your end.  There’s a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, 'Dear saint – please, please, please…give me the grace to win the lottery.'  This lament goes on for months.  Finally the exasperated statue comes to life, looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust, 'My son – please, please, please…buy a ticket.'”

Page 177, “Prayer is a relationship; half of the job is mine.  If I want transformation, but can’t even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I’m aiming for, how will it ever occur?  Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention. If you don’t have this, all your pleas and desires are boneless, floppy, inert; they swirl at your feet in a cold fog and never lift.  So now I take the time every morning to search myself for specificity about what I am truly asking for.  I kneel there in the temple with my face on that cold marble for as long as it takes for me to formulate an authentic prayer.  If I don’t feel sincere, then I will stay there on the floor until I do.  What worked yesterday doesn’t always work today.  Prayers can become stale and drone into the boring and familiar if you let your attention stagnant.  In making an effort to stay alert, I am assuming custodial responsibility for the maintenance of my own soul.”

Page 178, “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.”

Page 186, “The day is ending.  It’s time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful.  Now, let go."

Page 197, “We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, begging for pennies from every passerby, unaware that his fortune was right under him the whole time.  Your treasure – your perfection – is within you already.  But to claim it, you must leave the busy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.”

Page 231, “ ‘Why they always look so serious in yoga?  You make serious face like this, you scare away good energy.  To meditate, only you must smile.  Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy.  Even smile in your liver.  Practice tonight at hotel.’”

Page 277, “This is a good sign, having a broken heart.  It means we have tried for something.”

Page 285, “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 the man to ascend to his own greatness.  Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.”

Page 292, “Whatever pain happens to us in the future, I accept it already, just for the pleasure of being with you now.  Let’s enjoy this time.  It’s marvelous.”

Page 294, “To feel physically comfortable with someone else’s body is not a decision you can make…Do you want your belly pressed against this person’s belly forever – or not?”

Page 326, “I was like, Back off, kid!  What are you – a transcript of my most evil thoughts?”

Page 329, “I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.”

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