by Elizabeth Gilbert . . . is one of those books you wish you never read just to have the pleasure of reading it for the first time over and over again. It may actually change how you think and how you look at things. Needless to say, I loved it! The book was pretty long but well worth each and every page. I don't toss around the word "gifted" all that easily but Gilbert is a rare gem. I mean, her writing is captivating. She's hilarious yet down to earth. It's a wonderful balance a deep metaphorical truths and comedy.
The story is based all on her spiritual journey which translated into a physical journey. For someone like me, who doesn't like to travel, all the traveling she does is mind-blowing but somehow reading this, I realized a dream of mine that I had long buried and that (surprise!!) involves traveling (albeit to one very specific place).
It's wild that at the exact same time I was reading this book, the writer of one of the blogs I follow and love, quoted something from this very book. I could hardly believe it. But as I read on, I found myself actually pulling quotes from the book and writing them in my journal. I mean, words to live by. Gilbert is a seeker, like I am, so I felt a real kinship. She knows a lot and takes a lot from different traditions (so it's not like the quotes she writes are generated by her). Despite the varied sources of her wisdom, somehow everything comes together for her at that end so cohesively and seamlessly that it's stunning. She comes to different conclusions than I have (although, admittedly, I haven't come to any definitive conclusions) and makes different assumptions/holds different beliefs about God but her sincerity and strength of faith made me want to hear what she had to say, want to really understand the world through her eyes.
I couldn't help but to notice (at times) the privilege that comes to Gilbert by virtue of being White, pretty and wealthy (she received a $200,000 advance for the book). But she also seems to realize this, i.e. she seems self-reflective and seems totally aware of social dynamics and how she fit in (her privilege). I couldn't fault her.
The single most powerful thing I pulled from the book? Well, I know it's my mission in life to help people. More specifically, to be a resource. I often wonder how I will do that. What I was reminded of in a powerful way is that the first step to doing that is to become fully happy, i.e. make sure santosha is fully established in my life. When I "get out of the way," I free up the world just a bit which opens the door.
I've been chanting nam-myoho-renge-kyo for over a year now. After reading this book, my approach has been totally different. It's all about mindfulness. Single mindedness. What was I doing before? I've gone from struggling to do 5 minutes to feeling disappointed that I have to stop to attend to my babies or workout or go to work!
And yoga? I'm inspired to keep pushing, to keep deepening my practice. It's worth it!
I almost didn't want to like this book. Cliche and all that. You know, Western fascination with all things Eastern and new age. And Gilbert is very Western-minded and approaches her world from a Western vantage point. And, I will willingly admit, it is very self-absorbed but I kind of think that was the point. It's like my blog . . . you really should expect it to be focused on me. But . . . It is a really great book (which reads more like a really long article in that there's no serious "I'm writing a novel" undertone"). I'm keeping a serious eye out for a copy at the thrift store although eventually, I'll probably buy it.