Sunday, August 8, 2010

EAT, PRAY...LEAVE


I wasn't planning on posting today -- if anything I vowed that the next time I logged onto my blog, it would indeed be not to write a post but instead spend some long overdue time visiting my blog friends: I owe so many of you a good visit as I am genuinely quite interested in what's been going on.

However, it's so easy for this scatter-brained gal to get lost in my day-to-day with one day turning into two, then a week, two weeks, a month and so forth. Next thing you know I am out of touch and bloggers remorse sets in.

I am forever apologizing with well intentioned plans to visit soon and then, alas...life throws yet another curve (see post below this one). Although, it's never anything too serious (extra money spent on what was supposed to be a one day planned trip, needing a new garbage disposal -- ka-ching! -- doctors visits/bills courtesy of my pinched sciatic which has been all but down right crippling mentally and physically and B's broken hand -- double ka-ching!, etc.), for my admittedly fragile state, I find myself barely able to keep a straight thought and I ultimately flounder....

So, I'll skip the apologies and promises of a t.b.a. visit and just get straight to my point with the hopes that my lovely and patient blog friends (Elle, Steven Anthony, Meeko, Andrea, Herrad, Allen, Kyle, Brooklyn Book Lover, Green Monkey, Jaynie and so many others...) know my heart and that they're all a component in it.

Last year I read Elizabeth Gilbert's blockbuster memoir; 'Eat. Pray. Love.'. As most of you know by now, Julia Roberts is starring in the movie of the same name based on Ms. Gilbert's autobiographical pilgrimage after a brutal and heart wrenching divorce (I'm not sure there's any other kind) to Italy (where she discovered her love of food), India (where she learned how to meditate and pray) and finally capping off her journey in Indonesia (where she ultimately found love).

In my planning on seeing the movie next weekend, I have been doing some research on-line into the after effects of the lives and locales chronicled in Ms. Gilbert's book.

*Before I begin my soliloquy, for those of you who read 'Eat. Pray. Love.', here is some sad news straight from Elizabeth Gilbert's website:

"Terribly sad news. My dear friend Richard from Texas has passed away. He had been a heart patient for years, and it finally caught up with him. He passed away quietly, at home, with a smile on his face. There was no sign of struggle or pain. (I can just hear him saying, "Don't make a big production out of it, Groceries.") As everyone who read 'Eat, Pray, Love' knew, Richard was one of a kind. He was a guardian to my life at a moment when I needed a great deal of care, and I know that his delightful and sometimes twisted words of wisdom have touched the lives of countless others, as well. One last teaching from the master: I once asked Richard if he was afraid of death. He said, "The only thing I know for sure about death is that it seems to take most people by surprise." But I don't think death took Richard by surprise, nor did he fear it. I think he saw death coming, walked right up to it and shook its hand. I think he made friends with it. That was his way. I hope I someday have the grace to do the same. I loved this man with all my heart, and I will never forget him.

LG"


Richard T.:












Now, onto my post:

Since the popularity of her book, single women in their 30's, 40's and 50's from all across the globe are looking to emulate Ms. Gilbert's experience by flocking by the droves to the very places the author herself frequented in the hopes of finding the same enlightenment.

Depending on whom you talk to, especially in Bali, this is either a blessing or a curse.

Tourist dollars are what keep many of the local places in business: they are needed and counted on. Many have 'Eat. Pray. Love.' posters and other book related articles (including the book itself in every language and over-priced flowy, chiffon caftans...) for sale to the highest bidder.

However, there are many locals that are indeed quite unhappy that their quaint villages have turned into a cliche' -- and have put up their own posters: 'Eat. Pray. LEAVE.'

They curse the author for bringing them out of anonymity and obscurity and find themselves and their once quiet villages thrust into an unwanted spotlight.

During the filming of the movie 'Eat. Pray. Love.' in India, for example, many people were at a local Ashram for a yearly spiritual sabbatical which is sacred.

Due to the filming, the costly experience for the people who paid (and prayed) for their own spiritual journey (having nothing to do with the book nor upcoming movie) found anything but peace thanks to helicopters, vehicles, security, film crew and their equipment and found many of their planned activities and destinations blocked by the very filming of this movie.

I have conflicted feelings on this and have my own thoughts and questions:

Shame on the makers of this film for allowing their ill timed and selfish motives to interfere with others' journey. I'm a Karma believing kind of gal.

On the other hand....

Is it really fair to blame the author for merely chronicling her own journey?

Did Elizabeth Gilbert demand -- in addition to the $25.00 'Eat. Pray. Love.' book cost -- that every woman then go out and emulate her journey?

And finally, has it not brought wealth and prosperity to otherwise struggling locals and locales?

No to the first two and yes to the last of my questions.

My thoughts: these women that are dragging Ms. Gilbert's book across continents looking desperately for fulfillment, spiritual guidance, love and enlightenment -- while delighting some locals and irritating others -- are missing the point.

Elizabeth Gilbert made her own journey not knowing what it was she was looking for per se' until she found it.

She planned and mapped out her course making a few provisions along the way, ultimately taking the lumps and embracing the joy that crossed her path.

She found her own enlightenment, not recreating others'.

I suggest these women change their course from hers to their own. Sometimes you don't have to go far. Sometimes you do. It could be found in a book, a walk, a church pew, on a park bench or under a tree in a foreign country -- or in your own neighborhood.

It could be found in a photo album, a documentary, a rest home/assisted living or it could be found in a worthy cause.

I'm not saying to ban Italy, India and Indonesia and that enlightenment can't be found in those places for others, too. All I know for sure is that it CAN'T be found by recreating Ms. Gilbert's journey in following her footprints; where she ate, prayed and loved. Her experience was indeed her own.

Yours has to be yours.

Make your own footprints.

Peace and serenity,
~Jo

5 comments:

Andrea said...

Just dropping in to apologize for being an absentee follower, lately. Life has been a bit crazy. Hope you will forgive me.
I also have an update on arise 2 write for baby amden.

Hugs,
andrea

Meeko Fabulous said...

You know what's funny? If the author hadn't mentioned the places she visited at all by name . . . They would have never gotten this influx of tourists to support their economy and then they would bitch about how they're missing out. LoL Oh humans. And yea . . . I think they should have planned production around their religious observations . . . Just one more reason for other countries to hate us.

Green Monkey said...

I think I'm the only woman in the world who didn't like the book. okay, I'll give it another shot :)

Susan Deborah said...

This was a well researched post. I liked the book for I read it during a time I was in the dumps. It helped me immensely (along with the other usual elements like friends, prayers, etc). More than the travel or finding a man, what I liked in the book was the ability to gather oneself and move on with life. One need not travel, as you have rightly said, to find out one's self. There have been so many articles on this after the movie and that is giving the book lot of hype.

It is a simple story of a woman's journey. the woman could be anyone. All that matters is that one should be able to stand up and move on, learning life's lessons from the past.

There are many articles in salon dot com, if you would like to read scathing reviews and articles.

Tight read, this one.

Nice to have stumbled here.

Joy always,
Susan

alessandra said...

I agree with what you say, yet, it happens that when you fall in love with a book, a story, you want to visit the places depicted there.
May be it's a bit stupid, but it happens.