Monday, September 27, 2010

Eat, Love, Pray... by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is bonus round cos it has gone beyond the amended target of 40 books for the year. Book 41, recommended by Other Half.

It's a best seller and has already been Hollywood-ized. So, it's selling like hotcakes now. I notice that it's being mentioned a lot on the radio stations lately. The novel is more like a travelogue of Gilbert in search of the meaning of life after going through an emotional (identity?) crisis; she divorced her husband. So, to 3 I(s) she went - Italy to seek the pleasures of life, India for spirituality and Indonesia to balance pleasure and spirituality.

The author is candid, witty and intelligent. At points one might think she is schizo and she wonders it herself... but then again, aren't majority of such people are tortured souls? Amidst the deep melancholy, arises the genius... something like that.

In Italy, the pleasures of eating. I find her description of everything Italian interesting. Didn't know that Italian men are to what we think of French women. Hmmm... interesting to note that she finds Italian men beautiful (not handsome). She wrote about Depression and Loneliness as 2 characters coming back to sway her in Italy. Interesting!

To an ashram in India she went. There's this appeal in Yogic meditation, the pull of a Guru, etc. But I echo her sentiments on this particular thought - the longing to have something to believe in becomes more pronounced as we end our journey on this side of the divide. But this longing is up against many obstacles - intellect, common sense, greed, etc..... As much as many of us might proclaim that life ends with our last breath, many too ponder about the claimed worldly divide. Humanity is a constant evolution in search of the divine, in many forms.

In Indonesia, she had these 2 friends... both medicine people, Ketut and Wayan. It's quite hilarious though some of the accounts she made of them. We need balance in our lives. Faith is a choice. I always believe that God created us with the ability to choose. Everyone is entitled to make their own choices. Faith is more than just doing good... it's trying to live out to a calling. And love - the balance between the first two. Faith and works, the compelling factor is love. Hence we try to do good...

So Eat, Pray and Love.. I look at it this way. EAT represents the passion and pleasure that we are created for. God created us to have fellowship with him and PRAY is precisely that... a union with our creator. If this is too hard to comprehend, think parents and children. Children long for their parents' fellowship when they are young, and the roles become slightly reverse as the parents age and children become adults. But children tend to forget their parents sometimes in adulthood. (We forget God because we feel we are self-reliant). Love is faith in action, meeting the needs of Eat.

Her narration also caused me to ponder and reflect some what. After all, this is a book written by a woman in search of an identity and the meaning of her life to her. Typically, a woman is expected to marry, focus on the family; basically she loses her individual identity in a manner of speaking. She even assumes her husband's name! But the emancipated woman of this generation finds it hard to confine herself within those boundaries created by the marriage institution... I guess I found this reason one of the most appealing reason why I enjoyed reading this book. The identity search... you see, for a woman for centuries past, marriage plays a vital role in determining her identity...

Where faith is concerned... there is always this bit of soul searching that we go through. For some, the soul searching starts early, for many it begins as we approach the end of our journey... but I think most of us do some soul searching at some point.Many years ago (if feels like a lifetime ago), as a first year university student, I, too did my soul searching, reading into various 'holy' books - (Bhagavad Gita, Teachings of Buddha, Quran, works by philosophers of the Renaissance period and even parts of the Upanishad). Some of the readings were course work. Others were reading by choice.

So did the author find her balance??? I don't know, though she seemed happier at the end of her book. Each of us would like to think that we do but the final chapter is often not written till the coffin is nailed and sealed.... and no one has come back to this side of the divide to tell us what is beyond that.

Book 41. Definitely a good read. Might want to catch the movie if I have the time - Julia Roberts. 8)


SM Ting said...

thks for the review...will read it asap so that can catch the movie. I find that if I watch a movie and try reading the book later, I would not be able to read the book. The movie spoils the fun in reading it.

AJ7 said...

Same-same... it's the rave for the moment.

Die, die also hers....

It is mind boggling how selfish we can be at times these days... especially when it involves kids. I recently helped a friend's kid fi...