I completed Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” recently. I related to the first two sections of the book, “Eat” and “Pray” more than I did the third section, “Love.” I could relate to the concept that Gilbert presented that the best love affairs or relationships happen after a person has found him or herself. No use getting lost in a relationship which can only lead to confusion and muddled thoughts, not to mention feelings. Gilbert presents this last section as achieving balance after her time in Italy (pleasure) and India (dealing with pain/anguish) and she rallies her courage and sets out into the unknown.
I’m reminded of The Fool card in the Rider Wait Tarot deck with Gilbert’s description of her trip to Bali (Indonesia). She doesn’t have anyone to stay with, only knows the medicine man who she met two years before and didn’t remember how to find him. She follows threads of synchronicity and makes perfect use of her friendly personality which leads her to the medicine man. She’s also lead through various circumstances including getting in a minor bicycle accident to a medicine woman, who she raises money to buy a home for the woman and her children (adopted and her natural daughter). And Gilbert encounters an older Brazilian man who becomes her lover.
While many readers might envy Gilbert’s adventures, I don’t. She earned those credits by doing what most people never do in their lifetime and that is finding a place of solace where she can listen to the cries of her soul and gaze deeply at her emotional wounds. Sure she undergoes self-pity like anyone would in her circumstances, but she rises to the occasion and does the necessary spiritual work to reach the other side. I admire her courage because I know how difficult walking a spiritual path is. While pleasantries such as synchronicity, finding balance, and experiencing adventures come with the spiritual warrior package, facing the dark night of the soul isn’t for the faint of heart.
It’s my guess that readers would rather just live the experience through Gilbert’s stunning prose and storytelling. But it’s not enough to live through someone else’s experience and you might just end up resenting them anyway or judging them. Take what the author offers and seek your own solace and healing. I think her job was just to show us it’s possible to heal ourselves. And who knows maybe you’ll end up on a beach in Bali living a life of ease for the time being. Just watch out for tsunamis, and I don’t just mean the nature-kind.