overeat, go gray, goodbye love
I’ve been reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s eat, pray, love and it’s driving me insane. A colleague recently pointed out Gilbert’s TED lecture and I got interested. Somehow I had missed the phenomenon of Gilbert’s book, which she is quick to point out in her talk.
A simplistic description of her book is that it is a memoir of her spiritual journey after a divorce. It’s more than that, but sometimes less. So much of her lament, to my mind, is simply about being young, too smart for her own good and nubile. She tries to be self-effacing but one gets the impression that it is false modesty, and she falls into — and I know she would want to slap me silly for this one — traditionally sexist depictions of herself. Aren’t I cute that I just eat all the time and don’t mind a whit that I’ve gained a few pounds? I was so skeletal and wan before — the divorce, you know. Isn’t everything I experience in my spiritual journey just the most, the best, the biggest, the most god awful, and don’t forget soul-crushing event you can imagine? Don’t my bathroom-floor crying jags and ragged public blubbering make me an amazingly emotional intellectual free spirit?
Of course, I feel guilty for that last one since Gilbert suffers from depression and has alcoholism in her family, but, uh, doesn’t everyone – have both of those, I mean.
But now I’m actually hooked on the book because the good part of her writing is really good. She’s out there on so many human issues and dilemmas that normal people just don’t talk about. A lot of it is about god and spirituality, and even if you’re turned off by stuff like that, she’s at heart an intellectual (despite her protestations), so her take on all of it is quite palatable, especially if you’ve ever at least been intrigued by questions of religion, meditation, and/or other existential quests.
Her book is on my mind, and I have to admit, she has me thinking about things a bit differently. She has a writer’s ability to put in plain English some ideas I’ve been thinking about for awhile — simple stuff like living in the moment more, being more generally grateful and less self-pitying, listening more, not being so self-absorbed (even though, she herself, totally is).
Anyway, it’s worth reading — or listening to (which I’m doing, and she reads it aloud, herself — I could have guessed that one!) — if for nothing else than to re-live some of the things you thought were important in your 30s! Ha! People in their 30s do think they rule the world – I used to think so, too. I have this strange desire to write a satire of her book based on the perspective from the 50s — overeat, go gray, goodbye love — it might be called.