I’m one of those people who don’t like to be on bandwagons. I haven’t read Harry Potter or twilight, I don’t follow fashion trends, and popular TV is not my cup of tea.
I am aware that many women have read ‘Eat Pray Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert, and it is almost certain that the movie only furthered the book’s popularity. I was in two minds whether or not to buy the book; it definitely appealed to me but it seemed to somehow repulse me at the same time. Did I really want to hop aboard the bandwagon of women who were claiming that this book changed their lives? There’s something about those kinds of people that I find nauseating; don’t know what it is, just seems kind of unnatural and fake. I was still debating the purchase of this book, when a friend decided for me that I was going to read it, when he brought the book as a Christmas present for me last year. I put it to one side whilst I focussed my energies on finishing off my degree studies, and now I have finally completed it.
It was definitely a good read; thoroughly enjoyable and it did put a smile on my face.
It is divided into the three parts of Gilbert’s travels, Italy (eat), India (pray), and Indonesia (love); places beginning with I on her journey to rediscover I, and to recover herself after a messy divorce.
In Italy, Gilbert details getting lost in the language and the tastiest food she’s ever eaten. She explains her reasons for going on a year-long trip by herself, and as I read I was filled with a sense of doing things, not because you have to do them, but because you want to, doing the things that make you happy. She finds pleasure in the simplest of things and gains some weight through what seems to be constant eating of pizza, pasta and ice cream. Once you stop worrying about things, such as your weight, you free yourself up to enjoy them. At one point she describes making lunch and then sitting on the floor to eat it;
“I went and sat in a patch of sunbeam on my clean wooden floor and ate every bite of it, with my fingers, while reading my daily newspaper article in Italian. Happiness inhabited my every molecule.”
It’s such a simple act, but in Gilbert’s description of it, you sense peacefulness and contentment, a genuine happiness within herself.
Further on in the chapter, Gilbert discusses appreciating pleasure, which is something I think we should do more of. I know of people whose lives revolve around their work; they don’t give themselves the opportunity to do what it is that makes them happy. They don’t spend enough time with their family and friends, or doing a hobby, or simply just doing nothing at all.
‘Eat’ reiterates to me the idea of taking pleasure whenever you can, and not to feel guilty for it. Happiness can come in the simplest of forms.
After Italy, Gilbert travels to India, spending her time in an Ashram, a place of meditation and spiritual teachings. This part is ever so slightly preachy, but not in a god way, in an us as individuals kind of way;
“We’re miserable because we think that we are mere individuals, alone with our fears and flaws and resentments and mortality. We wrongly believe that our limited little egos constitute our whole entire nature. We have failed to recognize our deeper divine character. We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme Self who is eternally at peace. That supreme Self is our true identity, universal and divine.”
I agree with what she says here though, people need to remember that their feelings and fears are fickle and are constantly in flux, they should try to look deeper down inside of themselves for a sense of grounding and peacefulness.
This chapter, ‘Pray’, encourages you to let yourself grow, to be more in tune with your mind, cleansing yourself of the baggage you may carry; realising your negative thoughts and not letting them consume you, to accept them and take them into your heart, but not let them take over your happiness.
From here, Gilbert moves to Indonesia. This section is more of a chick lit novel, where the reader sees Gilbert in a happier and more centred place than she was in the beginning of the book, and here is where she falls in love. Gilbert reiterates here the idea of enjoying the simple things in life and keeping an open heart; because you can never plan for love.
I took the jump onto the ‘Eat Pray Love’ bandwagon and unlike many people who have read this book (or watched the film) I can say that this book has not changed my life. It only reiterated life lessons I already knew. It is a truly enjoyable book though which made me smile just reading it. ‘Eat Pray Love’ is life affirming, and seems to making happiness contagious.