Thursday, September 29, 2011

eating, praying, loving

Its happened a few times now that when I explain that I'm taking nearly a 9 month leave from my so-called life in order to travel back to the US, visit what was home, re-acquaint myself with America, nourish myself with the company of old and new friends, and reconnect with family before launching into a 5 month stint in India, 4 months of it to study at a yoga shala in Mysore I get this response: "So, like Eat Pray Love?" or sometimes, "Like Eat Pray Love!"

Having read the book twice already, I can only sheepishly respond, yes, like Eat Pray Love.

Its been referenced so much recently that I decided to pick up the copy of it that was sitting on my mother's shelf. It was the very first copy I ready 4 years ago, upon the recommendation of my mother. I was going through some major changes. I'd made a huge break from an emotionally abusive relationship. I was healing. And I remember getting so much out of Elizabeth Gilbert's account of that year in her life.

I read it a second time between Mysore and Manila, my tumultuous return to said so-called life after my first two and a half month trip to India. I was going through a shift then too. I had started to gain perspective on my life as it was, on what I really wanted and the disparity between the two.

I love to read. I've always had special relationships with the prose and plays that I love. For me, when a piece of literature is good, it speaks to me. I can relate to it's themes in a nearly cellular level. My body understands it and takes it in. It is like air, food, water, and sleep--which is why I can usually forgo these necessities when engrossed in a book. It feeds me. Plus, I was quite a maudlin kid and books were my escape. I lived in the novels that I read. They made life bearable.

And since, three is a magic number, I've decided to read it again. Gilbert points this out in her book, the perfect balance of a three-legged stool is a beautiful thing, the magic of fine engineering.

This time, the energetic and emotional connections have never been more clear and the parallels to my own life's events are a little uncanny. I know there are new shifts now, though I am still trying to understand it. I'm sad. I'm happy. I'm trying to be nice to myself. I'm free. And I don't quite know what to do with it. So, yes. I guess I am eat-pray-love-ing.

Don't get me wrong, I think, ultimately, anyone who is going through serious life changes will relate to this book. And I don't think I'm anymore special than anyone else. And while I am at this weird crossroad, dealing with my own breakups, heartaches, newly acquired nomadic life, and, yes, freedom I don't think any of the tumult of the last year compares the depth of Gilbert's own story. But still, the similarities are interesting. Its just each time I read this book, I feel like I relate to it deeper and deeper, which is a sign of a really good book.

Gilbert has tapped into three universal themes that will create balance in those who dare to embody them: eat, pray and love. They are like this triple threat. Together, they have serious mojo.

This trip has been touched by discord and struggle, which is really forcing me to identify and seek out what nourishes me, whether its good food, beautiful company of the genuine-hearted, support of friends and loved ones. In so many ways, I've also been more conscious of the devotional aspect of my practice too. But recently, I've really started to pray again. I pray to the sun or to god or to my guru. And, well, love...

Love is trickier than I thought. I am trying to understand my heart. I guess that's why I write about it so much. That's the reason for this blog. There's some kinds of love that are easy for me. Those are bountiful. And then there are others that I struggle with also. There's nothing that I want more. There's nothing that I am more afraid of.

So, here I am, reading about a woman on a journey, just as I am a woman on my own journey, quite possibly the most important undertaking of my life thus far. And Gilbert's tale is a lovely companion, a true friend holding up a mirror. And hopefully, I'll have the vision to see what it is that I need to see, a glimpse perhaps of the real me.

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