Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My thoughts on Eat, Pray, Love

A couple of months ago, back in May or June, I was garage sale hunting (a common pastime at our house) and came across this book written by Elizabeth Gilbert...

Eat Pray Love was first published in 2006 and has since become a New York Times Bestseller.  I had heard mixed reviews about the book, but never had the opportuniy to read it.  I also know the book turned into a movie back in 2010; starring Julia Roberts.  I hadn't watched the movie either, so I decided to pick up the book for a mere 25 or 50 cents. 

After reading the blurb on the back, the memoir sparked my interest.  Who wouldn't want to travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia to experience the language, culture, and food?  It sounded like my kind of book. 

The book is a memoir about a woman in her thirties who seems to have everything (a great husband, wonderful career, beautiful home, etc.) but still doesn't feel fulfilled.  The thought of staying married and having children scares her.  She isn't ready.  She doesn't know if she'll ever be.  After all, she'd rather be travelling.  After a divorce and amidst deep depression, she decides to leave everything behind, sell her belongings and travel for one year to Italy, India, and Indonesia.  There, she battles through her depression and tries to find "God" and herself, really. 
I had the book tucked in my night table drawer until a couple of weeks ago, when I finally began to read the first few pages.  The book is divided into three separate books.  Book One is about Elizabeth's travel to Italy.  Book Two is about her journey in India.  And Book Three takes place in Bali, Indonesia. 

I think my favorite book was the first one - Italy.  I was transported to Rome and learned a lot of things about Italy, its regions, history, monuments, churches, and the food.  Oh, the food...the Neapolitan pizza, the gelato, the Bolognese cuisine!  Being that I would love to see Italy one day, the first book gave me a good look inside Rome and a better understanding of what to expect one day when I do visit. 

Book Two takes place in India, where Elizabeth resides in an Ashram for four months.  There she practices yoga, meditation, and spiritual/physical exercises, as a means of getting "closer" to God.  Although I did learn a lot about yoga, ashrams, meditation and spirituality, I did find this second book a bit slow and repetitive.  Half-way through, I found it difficult to keep reading.  It felt very slow and it dragged on for me.  I kept reading and eventually, Elizabeth does seem to find God, through deep meditation, after much practice and devotion. 

Book Three was very interesting.  I learned so much about the people from Bali; so many things I would otherwise never have known.  I really enjoyed the new characters introduced in this section.  It was nice to see Elizabeth become another person, filled with joy and gratitude. 

Many readers of this book feel upset when they find out the author admits (chapter 10) that her publisher purchased this book, in advance, without even reading it.  In other words, maybe this entire "spiritual" journey was not so spritual after all?  Was it just a ploy to make money and another book deal?  I don't know.  I don't really care.  I still think the book is a great read.  I feel the author is very honest throughout the book, sometimes uncomfortably honest.  I learned a lot from her and her travels. 

So, do I recommend the book?  Definitely!  I learned that Elizabeth and I have one thing in common - love of travel.  But, our common interest means different things to us.  Unlike Elizabeth, my first love is my husband, my children, my family, my home.  At the time Elizabeth wrote this book, travel and the love of travel was at the top of her list.  I'm not so sure it still is today. 

I wanted to share an excerpt from the book with you (pg.260).  It is one of my favourites.  This is Elizabeth explaining her Guru's teachings...

"I keep remembering one of my Guru's teachings about happiness.  She says that people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough.  But that's not how happiness works.  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 might 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 sould hold tight to its good attainments."
After reading this book, it made me realize that many people can't seem to find happiness within themselves.  They feel the need to look externally, travel great distances, etc., etc.  I'm not sure if these travels helped Elizabeth find her happiness.  I think she believes it to be so.  I am not so sure.  If indeed they did, then I am glad for it.  I think time, love and gratitude are healers of many things.

I believe our potential for happiness is always within, and close at hand.  I don't feel we need to roam much further than our backyards to find it.  That's just me, though. I find joy in the simplest of things...

like my roses...the scent of them alone brings a smile to my face!



  1. Rosinda,
    As always you find the most precious words and frases in everything you write!!!
    I loved and agree in all you've said!
    You're a very smart young lady and make me a very proud mom! I love you:)

  2. I saw the author of that book being interviewed and thought she was an idiot. Lots of vapid people (and many are right here) search for joy outside themselves and have the money to finance it. It helps to have a premise and a book deal in advance. I saw the movie and hated it. Being a spiritual person in that field, disingenuous spirituality always annoys me. Even the remarks from her guru couldn't be more wrong. It sounds as tho misery is always an abyss that at any moment we could all fall into without constant vigilance. Joy is what you feel--music in your heart, the openness to love, the peace of having the life you want, and the confidence that even if problems arise, that you can handle them. The knack for happiness isn't a result of meditation, though it's a nice tool for connecting with spirit and finding peace, but rather it's the ability to have the faith that life is and can be beautiful. I did like Italy though--you can't go wrong eating there, that's for sure. I loved living there and one thing I remember clearly--the joy inside all the Italian people and how wonderful they were to know. I'd take that any day over India and its celebration of misery and Bali and the delusion-inspired romance the book set there. I have no clue if that writer is still with the guy she found there but if so it's because she's still in a state of self-hypnosis. Gee sorry for the harangue! I think you have much more wisdom than Gilbert that's for sure, and a better and more clear heart. You have the knack for happiness and that's the way it should be.

  3. oH MY GOODNESS....I had this LONG response/comment written and then hit the wrong button which erased everything....it's late and I don't have the energy to re-write, but I'll summarize....

    You have a wonderful sense of self that grows each day....your joy in the simplest things is unique and special and I'm so happy you enjoyed the book. It's been talked about and dissected so much, that, for many, it lost its original appeal. I'm glad you could just read it for summer reading and escape to her many destinations and to see just the simple beauty of it. It's not perfect, but then neither is any one book person, or life. I agree with Nancy's assessment of the author, but when my daughters had read it, all of that information was not known and they read it just for what it was....a journey of one individual. It sparked enthusiasm for travel and it sparked thought on how to live one's life.

    I'm so happy you got to read it and that YOU are YOU.....



  4. Hi sweetie! Great post...I think you approached the book in just the right spirit, with no preconceptions, & it's so interesting to read your thoughts. I saw the movie first, and even though I LOVE Julia Roberts in most everything, I found it so irritating & self-indulgent! She had so much at the beginning but couldn't see it & was always whining & searching & discontented. I agree with Nancy & Joann. But I think your final words reiterate what a wise & beautiful woman you are. To me, too, happiness comes from within...nothing outside can bring it to you, but it can enhance the contentment that's already there! Your joy is that you would be just as happy anywhere, as long as you had your beloveds...it's a rare thing, and wonderful that you recognise & cherish it. Once again, I think to myself how very lucky your girls are to have such a role model for a mother, Rosinda. Love you xoxo

  5. Very thoughtful post. I have that book that I got a few months ago. I think this weekend I will start reading it. As Rachel said above your girls are very lucky to have such a wonderful role model. Keep up the great work. Looking forward to more blogs.


  6. I have the book but haven't read it yet. I saw the movie and enjoyed the different locals and sights. I think it showed that finding happiness isn't somewhere else, it's in your own state of mind and in your heart. I feel as you do that happiness in right in my own backyard, in nature, with family and friends. No matter what materals things I have, they don't bring real happiness. Genuine happiness is a state of mind, a way of looking at the world and finding peace and calm and beauty in each day. Great job on critque of the book. I recall the scene in Wizard of Oz, when Glenda the good witch tells Dorothy: "You have always had the power to go home." We always are looking for someone to make us happy when we have the power ourselves.

  7. Rosinda! It's my first visit! What a wonderful blog. Your insight is so refreshing. Isn't it true the harder we search for happiness the more it seems to elude us! In some of my lowest times and my highest times as well, I've realized my joy must come from within. It's not based on others (as I would sometimes like it to be), but on embracing life for all that it is and can be... without the things. And for me, I've found the biggest source of joy has been returned to me when I've chosen to give myself to others be it a smile, a kind word... understanding. I've not read the book, but I've heard so much about it. Thank you for sharing and simplifying the story for me ;)I will return and continue journeying with you, and taking time to smell the roses... your beautiful roses! Georgie