Eat, Pray, Love and Get the Bleep Over It

I’m reading a book right now. At least I’m attempting to read it. It’s a book that’s been feted worldwide with not a negative heard about it. Its been made into a film with Julia Roberts with her endearing (yet unnervingly middle-aged) coltish ways trit-trotting across the northern hemisphere in a west-east direction. And I’m having trouble with this book.

Eat Pray Love is the story of one woman’s search for… actually I’m not quite sure what she’s searching for – something that’s a combination of God, Prince Charming and a shag (and I may be wrong but I’m only half way through the book so bear with me here if I’m wrong).

I’m not dissing the deep despair and emptiness she feels in her marriage that leads her to leave her husband, have a dysfunctional transitional relationship, then leave the US on a year of travels to find whatever it is. However maybe I’m just a tad impatient with the sheer indulgence of the exercise.

Throughout the entire half of the book I’ve read so far, there has been nothing to make me want to like her and I didn’t know what that was until yesterday. And that one thing is that she demonstrated care for no one or nothing other than that which could directly serve her.

Even in one episode where she is struggling the mantra her guru insists is said each morning at the Ashram in India, she finally finds a way of getting through it by concentrating with love on her nephew (who she apparently loves more than anything in the world but its taken half a book to mention him in passing). There seems to be a shaft of selfless light shining through for a moment but then it was all back to her when she finds a passage in a holy book that says how someone else, many years ago, got through the mantra by concentrating on her beloved nephew and so it therefore was God’s way of telling her she’s on the right path. And back we go to stage one.

I’m not criticising her for being carefree, I guess I’m just irked by her excess of indulgence, choice and money and the assumption that these are required to go on this holy quest.

Hundreds of thousands of women have done the journey before her (myself included), but without the necessity for a passport. They’ve done it in their own kitchen, their own backyard because responsibilities have curtailed physical movements.

And maybe that’s the nub of it. Maybe I’m simply jealous and that’s what’s colouring my view. I’m reaching an age where I’m slowly divesting myself of responsibilities. Since my teens I’ve had the responsibility of looking after my parents, and then having a child. Well the parents are now gone, and the child is growing fast, and I’m entering a time where I’m having more fun than ever before, and I’m blessed enough to have a partner who’s at the same stage and who’s with me on the fun quest.

Would I have taken myself off to Italy, India and Bali if I had the freedom and resources? Probably not.

When I picture her life as it was, it makes me feel quite panicky. There’s no reference point other than the self, no anchor. And that self is in freefall and at that stage not to be trusted for any judgement call. I wonder if she would have learned the same lesson by volunteering with homeless people or by devoting herself to some service to others? Probably, but it wouldn’t have the glamour of the world trip. Cynical? Moi?

I may finish the book loving it – I’ll let you know. But in the meantime I reckon it should be called “Eat,Pray Love and Get the Bleep over it”

Published by Maggie

Writer, traveller, observer.

3 thoughts on “Eat, Pray, Love and Get the Bleep Over It

  1. I'm reminded of the hoo hah about the film Shirley Valentine many (cough) years ago. Similar thing. Loads of English women upped sticks and ran off to Greece looking for luuurve….they missed the point. Shirley Valentine went to Greece, had a lovely shag, and found herself. She fell in love alright, but with the thought of staying there and finding herself again, being true to herself. Let us know how it turns out Mags, sounds like it's the Shirley Valentine for this generation?!

  2. Hey Josie, Its entirely possible it is as you outline. As I say, I haven't finished the book yet and I don't know how I'll feel about it then. What I do object to is the commodification of what is a very personal and privileged journey, that in this book's form very neatly follows the three-act hero's journey, making it a perfect narrative for the modern western market. Also that it finishes with 'love' as in romantic love, again emphasising our culture's obsession with romantic love being the be all and end all for a woman. And that's what people are buying into – not the spiritual journey itself, but the spiritual journey wrapped up as the cinderella story.We've both been through this process and we both know that its not like that, but many who don't are booking passages to Italy, India and Bali as we speak. That's what I find cynical and sad about it – that an opportunity to promote wholeness of person is sacrificed once again to pay duty to romantic love. No matter that you've found god, if you haven't found a man, you're not complete.I'm loving your blogs, the honesty and the clarity you bring. They bear no resemblance to this book, and the air of authenticity you have cannot be ignored.lovem xx

  3. I've got this book on my shelves, but haven't read it yet so I can't write a comment on the book itself yet.I hear you on the responsibilities, making the inner journey by staying physically put. the appearance of no anchor. These stages of the process can often appear very self-indulgent to people watching (and without having read the book, I haven't been able to pick up on the feeling of motivation, what's drawing her etc, what she wants to learn). It might be that the travelling etc is an initial stage of preparation for letting her perspective expand to draw others into all of it, but that she's not shared this in the book – I dunno. I do know from what I'm studying that "the ego is what first comes to spirituality" because the ego is what seeks, thinks what it wants is outside of itself, and then eventually the Self beyond the ego realizes that what it seeks all along is always within. So I guess it's entirely possible that she's still at that stage where the ego is on its seeking mission, and if she continues, that will mature, settle and go ever deeper into the Self that knows it is simply the essence of Love, and find ways to extend that to everyone she meets, especially that nephew! There are myriad forms of that, but the essence is always the same.Would I have taken myself off to various places, sometimes overseas? Yes and no – I was tempted to go on a six-month ashram thingy to Bali last year, and changed my mind because I recognized I already have the 'ashram' of my daily life right here, as it were. However, I've just come back from retreat in Cornwall and I want to go to Israel, but that'll probably have to wait until the diploma finishes, for that reason and others.Love to you 🙂 xx

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