Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thanks Elizabeth Gilbert

Is it lunchtime yet?
Right now, I'm struggling through the last section of the highly acclaimed-book-that-preceded-the-movie, "Eat, Pray, Love."  And by struggling, I mean, forcing myself to finish it.  It's not a bad book, it's just not a great book, in my opinion.  Being a travel memoir in all actuality, it doesn't lend itself to those of us longing for plot, dynamic characters, intrigue or mystery.  For those of you who have been living under a rock, "Eat, Pray, Love" is the true story of the yearlong journey of writer, Elizabeth Gilbert.  After a painful divorce, she decides to live in Italy, India and Indonesia, each for four months, to learn about life, love, pleasure, religion and all things personal. The section on her travels in Italy was amazing (I might be biased based on my heritage, I'll admit); she described in full detail every reason why I want to spend a significant chunk of my life in my genealogical "home."  Half home.  The other "homes" are basically all of white, anglo-saxon Europe.  Anyway.  Elizabeth Gilbert, also the author, elaborately describes the buildings, the churches, the art, the museums and good God Almighty, the food.  I was sitting on an airplane with only that little teaser bag of pretzels in my stomach waiting to land in Atlanta while reading about mozzarella, salmon, pizza, lasagna, gelato and wondering how fast I could get to a bakery or Italian restaurant after deboarding.

I will say that "Eat, Pray, Love" has definitely been an eye-opening read, regardless of the slow parts.  I found myself paralleling her experiences with my own:  her "awakening" to realize that she was headed down a path she no longer wanted any part of, her religious transformation and her search for true love.  "True" is emphasized because it doesn't necessarily mean romantic love, although Elizabeth does want that eventually, as do I, but I think she's trying to learn what it really means to love another human being in general and to love yourself for how you were created.  But, when she addresses her personal battles with romantic love, Elizabeth really struck a chord with me while I was mulling over her escapades in Indonesia over my turkey sandwich at lunch yesterday.  She says:
"I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and then I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been the victim of my own optimism."
Holy cow.  The "victim of my own optimism."  She might as well have started this paragraph with "Hey, Melanie, this is for you! Read and learn, my friend!" the story of my romantic life.  Looking back, I know that I have "fallen in love" (the quotations denote something probably more in line with infatuation) with men too quickly and too often as well, and although I saw that there were major red flags that would most certainly hinder us from being successful together, I was willing to overlook those because I thought I saw something in them that made them special  or something that could be manipulated in the future so that they would be my perfect match.  I fell "in love" with the idea of who I thought they could be, if I just waited long enough and prayed hard enough.  And I think to find someone that you love exactly how they are with their faults and all and not with any desire for them to change is the definition of true love.

So thanks to this book that I've labored over now for over a month and a half and should have finished a week ago for my book club meeting, I think I've become a better Singleton, adding to those marketable characteristics I talked about before.  I want to keep this thought in mind as I attempt to continue my quest out of Singledom.  I won't eventually fall in love with someone for what they could be, but for who they are today, realizing and understanding that changes will happen, but not pinning my hopes of happiness to a certain outcome. 

To get a copy of "Eat, Pray, Love," click here.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read it yet but I've heard the same thing from people who have--that it's okay but not great. I'm not up for seeing the movie either, it's just not my cup of tea.


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