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”