Saturday, July 12, 2014

[Book Review] Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, LoveEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part 1: From The Book Cover

A celebrated writer's irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of her pursuit of worldly pleasure, spiritual devotion, and what she really wanted out of life.

Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis. She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want—a husband, a house, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief, and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.

To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world—all alone. Eat, Pray, Love is the absorbing chronicle of that year. Her aim was to visit three places where she could examine one aspect of her own nature set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well. In Rome, she studied the art of pleasure, learning to speak Italian and gaining the twenty-three happiest pounds of her life. India was for the art of devotion, and with the help of a native guru and a surprisingly wise cowboy from Texas, she embarked on four uninterrupted months of spiritual exploration. In Bali, she studied the art of balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. She became the pupil of an elderly medicine man and also fell in love the best way—unexpectedly.

An intensely articulate and moving memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment and stop trying to live in imitation of society’s ideals. It is certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change.

Part 2: Recommendation

Ever since the movie came out, I have been wanting to see it but I have this policy of reading the book first if the movie is based on a book and originally, I did not plan on writing a review but I am writing a review anyway mainly to add my voice because, based on GoodReads reviews, apparently, I am one of the few who actually find this book inspiring.

When I read the line: "This loss upon loss has left me feeling sad and brittle and about seven thousand years old," I thought to myself, who wouldn't feel that old when you have been suffering from depression, loss, feelings of inadequacy and most likely under appreciated by the person you love most when the author said she was "... overwhelmed with duty, tired of being the primary breadwinner and the housekeeper and the social coordinator and the dog walker and the wife... and ... a writer..." then I also thought who wouldn't be overwhelmed, taken for granted and financially abused in this situation? After reading this part, I truly felt bad for her.

In the succeeding paragraphs, the author realizes she doesn't want to be married to her husband anymore and as curious human beings, we are drawn to drama and we want to know the answers to the question, why did she want a divorce? Why did she feel that way after being with her spouse for eight years? What did he do or not do? These are the questions that plague the readers' mind when they'd come to this passage and as such, a lot of the reviews on GoodReads complain about the lack of his point of view or the author' lack of shedding some light as to what her husband did or did not do to cause her to file for divorce. "The many reasons I didn't want to be this man's wife anymore are too personal and sad to share here. Much had to do with my problems, but a good portion of our troubles were related to his issues as well... there are always two figures in a marriage, after all ... the chronicles of our marriage's failure will remain untold here..." When I got to this passage in the book, I was just amazed by how mature she was about the whole thing. Why? Because normally, people have a tendency to tell everyone they meet about what went wrong and embellishing the truth and blaming the other person for a number of reasons: attention, sympathy, comfort. It is amazing to me how beautifully she wrote this and how she also acknowledged her own faults and that yes, her husband also had contributed to the demise of their marriage but she didn't further elaborate on those shortcomings and I applaud her for that.

Another passage that I really like is this: "... because the only thing your can do for now is get some rest and take good care of yourself until you do know the answer" because it brings to mind an affirmation that when you are distraught or angry at something or someone, sometimes, the best thing to do is to set it aside for now, get some rest and then think about it when your mind and heart is clear and you can look at the situation in an objective manner. It is only in this way that you can truly express yourself without using words that you will regret saying later on. So whenever I hear someone say, "Never go to bed angry with your spouse," I tend to disagree with this statement because at the heat of the moment, people have a tendency to speak hurtful words that they don't really mean and it only serves to add more stress on the relationship. The same thing when a person is troubled by something or someone, the best thing to do is to set it aside until you are emotionally detached from it and have a clear mind to see and do what needs to be done.

At some point in our lives we probably felt something like this passage: "Sometimes I feel like I understand the divinity of this world, but then I lose it because I get distracted by my petty desires and fears. I want to be with God all the time. But I don't want to be a monk, or totally give up worldly pleasures. I guess what I want to learn is how to live in this world and enjoy its delights, but also devote myself to God." It saddens me when I read negative reviews about this book saying that the author was shallow, etc. But if you are not so jaded, don't we all aspire to something like this in our lives? To have a closer relationship to our God but at the same time not give up whatever earthly comforts and pleasures we have? To quote The Secret, "Life is mean to be abundant in all areas."

"To find the balance you want... you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart instead. That way, you will know God." I just love this line because this is what Jesus preached. In order to go to heaven, one must be like a child, full of innocence and wonder. And I like that about this book; the author's childish innocence and wonder at the world around her. Her point of view is refreshing.

And I definitely agree when I read this: "... write down three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashes with any other item... you are destined for unhappiness. Better to live a life of single-pointed focus." I think by doing this makes life simpler and helps you focus on the things you really want to achieve and do. There's no way to get sidetracked.

"... I don't feel comfortable petitioning for specific things from God, because that feels to me like a kind of weakness of faith... God might want me to facing that particular challenge for a reason..." a lot of us were raised in this belief that God is challenging us as a way to strengthen our faith. But I agree whole heartedly with Iva when she said, "...You are part of this universe... you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known..." This statement resonates deeply with the teachings of The Secret and The Power, both written by Rhonda Byrne. In addition to that, all religious texts prove this to be true as written, "... Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find..." because of her own journey, we are all benefited by this reminder that we are allowed to petition God or the Universe to change something in our lives for the better. As I wrote earlier, life is meant to be abundant in all areas: health, wealth, relationships.

"... Dear me, how I love a library..." this line made me smile because I love libraries too and there's this tweet of amazing libraries around the world which makes me want to go on a world tour of libraries.

"I think about the woman I have become lately, about the life that I am now living, and about how much I always wanted to be this person and live this life, liberated from the farce of pretending to be anyone other than myself." This line is truly magical, truly inspiring for me because from start to finish, the reader is taken along for the ride and as the story unfolds, the reader sees how the author learns and grow as a person and it is just sad how people have to undergo such hardship to learn and uncover the beauty and power that is within each and everyone of us. I think that everyone of us in the beginning of our lives, we learn to pretend to be someone we're not in order to please our parents, our teachers, our friends, our families. We never truly get to be ourselves because of all these expectations from our family, social circle and the society. Wouldn't it be nice to look back on your life and realize that you are finally at a point where you can truly be yourself?

Since everyone's spiritual journey is different, I too believe "... God is an experience of supreme love... I believe in a magnificent God." Just look at the world around you. Stop being jaded and open your eyes to the wonders of the world. Be alive and choose to be happy. And this is why, the more I think about this book, the more I love it. The message is simple: choose to be happy and gratitude is the key.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is very well-written, and I originally listened to the audiobook which the author read herself. The audiobook was equally well-done and well-read. I love seeing how the author matures and grows in her personal journey to leading a spiritual and comfortable life. Her journey is inspiring and there's a lot of lessons to be relearned and I am grateful for the reminder. Upon finishing the book, I had neutral feelings towards the book and the longer I think about it, the more I liked this book. I think this book will be an inspiration to those who are currently going through tough times in their personal lives because this book is about overcoming such life storms or those who are on their own spiritual journey or self-discovery journey who might want to know about someone else' journey to compare or enhance their own.

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