I have a truly great circle of friends. They are loyal, loving and we share many of the same interests, including similar tastes in books.
When Eat, Pray, Love was all the rage a couple of years ago, it flew through my circle of friends (most of us 40- or 50-somethings) in the way that the Twilight series caught like wildfire with some of my high school students.
Two of my very closest friends adored it, and they were both excited to find out what I thought.
By the end of the first chapter, I was untouched. By the time Liz Gilbert had left her perfectly kind, loving husband, taken up with a man who was clearly a jerk and decided to spend her year traipsing around the world looking for “fulfillment”, my skin was crawling. I got through Italy and the first couple of chapters that took place in the ashram, in part because my sister, brother-in-law were followers of Gurumayi and I was curious. I finally reached the point, though, where I couldn’t stomach Gilbert’s self-indulgence anymore, and I ended up returning the book to the library early.
I’m at the age where life is too short; I don’t finish books that I don’t like.
My friends were circumspect about this – there are areas where we agree to disagree and that’s one of the many reasons why I love my friends.
I might still have seen this film just for the eye candy, and I’m not talking about Javier Bardem (who is fine eye candy indeed). I love travel reels, food blogs, great, hedonistic photography, and Italy is one of my favorite places on earth. I’ve seen A Room with a View more times than I can count. Italy, alone, might have pulled me in.
But there was also Julia Roberts.
I think the casting is perfect – the self-indulgent author chooses the uber-self-indulgent actress to play, well, “her”. Julia Roberts of the mega-watt smile (does anyone else see the resemblance to a cartoon horse, or is it just me?), the husband-stealing, the perfect children and the “Hindu” lifestyle. Hindu?
Do you think she follows domestic worship and purification rites, which are an integral practice for many followers of the various branches of the Hindu religion, does she revere Ganga Maiya, or is she really referring to something much more Western-palatable such as the Siddha Yoga that her author doppelganger followed in India?*
I can see this movie as a guilty pleasure for many of my age-something friends who might fantasize about a year of eating, praying and falling in love with their “soul mate”, especially since their realities don’t reflect Gilbert’s lifestyle at all. Stealing a peaceful bath occasionally might be all the self-indulgence they have time for.
As far as I’m concerned, I just don’t have patience for Gilbert’s ramblings, either on paper or on the big screen.
I’d rather spend my free time enjoying and being grateful for my not-perfect husband, my not-perfect son and my not-perfect life.
It seems apropos to start this blog by discussing a very different spiritual journey from my own. Everyone has a right to his or her own journey, and I shouldn’t put down Elizabeth Gilbert or Julia Roberts for seeking theirs.
Mine is just more of a mix of pragmatism. I think there are still beautiful sights, spiritual teachers and delicious, fresh foods where I live in the Midwest of the U.S. I love travel, but I love home, too.
“Let the life that you lead be all that you need” – Ryan Star “Breathe“
So tell me – where are you in all of this media frenzy? Does Eat, Pray, Love float your boat or make you want to run screaming in the other direction?
*Note: This is not in any way, shape or form a put-down of Hinduism. I’m just surprised that Roberts has embraced this religion, which is very much a product of its culture and region. I’ll probably be covering my feelings about religion, and cultural perspectives on religion, quite extensively in future posts.