Saturday, April 27, 2013

Reflections: Eat, Pray, Love

Megan Kline Shimer shares her thoughts on Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love:

"Critics and readers alike out there have already sung the praises of Eat, Pray, Love for many years; now that I have read it myself I can affirm that all of the accolades are extremely well deserved. I became interested in Elizabeth Gilbert a few months ago when I came across her contribution to Ted Talks. I could see that she was an amazing person in just that short speech and I wanted to get to know her better. What better way than to read her 'freakish success' (as she calls it) of a book, Eat, Pray, Love.

The book begins with Liz (the author) in serious trouble. She knows she is unhappy and decides to pray for help. She says her first ever prayer on her bathroom floor in the middle of the night and it starts her incredible journey to better know God. She comes up with a plan to get out of her own element and really explore the world and its cultures to figure out what the best path is to find God in her own life. This starts with a messy and unfortunate divorce from which it takes a lot of time to recover. She decides she will live out the next year as follows: 4 months in Italy (eating), 4 months in an ashram in India (praying), and will round off her journey with 4 months in Bali (unplanned at the time, but this becomes the loving). Originally her plan was a little different, but she learns how sometimes you must be flexible and intuitive to go where your own personal journey will lead you.

What I have described so far could easily be mistaken for a review of the film based off this book, but let me assure you (as is usually the case) the book is so much better than the movie. The movie covers the high points of the plot and, to be fair, does a very good job of telling the main story – the road to self-understanding and God. The book just has so much more to offer. I learned what an insider’s take is on the cultures Liz visited, not just a travel guidebook snippet. I learned fascinating things like the true reasons and thinking behind the practice of yoga, that ashrams are non-denominational and facilitate all seekers of God, and that pizza margherita tastes best when eaten in Naples, Italy.

Eat, Pray, Love taught me that a balanced life is something that takes discipline and devotion to achieve; and balance can only be found when you let God in show him your gratitude each and every day. How fantastic is it to find a (technically) secular book that promotes a personal relationship with God?! It may sound cliché, but I feel like I am a better person for reading this book, and I only hope that I can employ just a few of the lessons in my own life because I know it would only increase my own happiness."

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