The iconic memoir “Eat Pray Love” by the queen of print world, Elizabeth Gilbert, is a manifestation of core human feelings, emotions, and behaviors. When you read it, you smile, laugh, cry, sense your spirituality – actually you feel it. The book carries an inherent visual appeal which brings every character, every word, and every event in life. It was so intense, persuading, and relieving that I wanted to capture my all favorite moments here. These mesmerizing excerpts would certainly leave you in awe. Each one of these citation gave me an “aha” moment.
Eat In Italy
How exquisitely she describes her traumatic feeling and dilemma of walking out of marriage. There could not be better words than these to reveal the tormenting feeling:
- “The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying leaving. I didn’t want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences, and then not stop running until I reached green land.”
- “But did I had responsibility to have a family? Oh lord – responsibility. That word worked on me until I worked on it, until I looked at it carefully and broke it down into the two words that make its true definition: the ability to respond. And what I ultimately had to respond to was the reality that every speck of my being was telling me to get out of my marriage.”
- “Getting out of a marriage is rough, though, and not just for the legal/financial complications or the massive lifestyle upheaval. (As my friend Debroah once advised me wisely: “Nobody ever died from splitting up furniture”) It’s the emotional recoils that kills you, the shock of stepping off the track of a conventional lifestyle and losing all the embracing comforts that keep so many people on that track forever.”
I loved the part when she talks with herself – sometimes her own mind and heart are the participants and sometimes she rely on the pen and paper to create an invisible confidant and counselor – how beautiful.
- “My heart skipped a beat and then flat-out tripped over itself and then fell on its face. Then my heart stood up, brushed itself off, took a deep breath and announced: “I want a spiritual teacher.” I literally mean that it was my heart who said this, speaking through my mouth. I felt this weird division in myself, and my mind stepped out of my body for a moment, spun around to face my heart in astonishment and silently asked, “YOU DO?””
- “This is what I find myself writing to myself on the page:
“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it – I will love you through that as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you, too. There is nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.””
A great piece of advice to live a life of single-pointed focus:
- “The great Sufi poet and philosopher Rumi once advised his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned, you are destined for unhappiness. Better to live a life of single-pointed focus, he warned.”
Living in practical world, she candidly and authentically reveals her desire of enjoying the dual privilege of human life – kalos kai agathos (loved this).
- “I wanted to experience both. I wanted worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence – the dual glories of a human life. I wanted what the Greeks called , the singular balance of the good and the beautiful.”
She points out that you must not inflict your distress on others.
- “When I get lonely these days, I think: So, be lonely Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotion as a scratching pad of your own unfulfilled yearnings.”
Here, she surfaces the bitter reality that you could be the-most-important to who-are-you to someone any day. So, be prepared!
- “Yesterday, I might have been a glorious monument to somebody, true enough – but tomorrow I could be a firework depository. Even in the Eternal city, says the silent Augusteum, one must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.”
In what better way anyone could describe the difference in attitude of two different beings of two different cultures? Read this:
- “If you ask a Protestant to American Midwest to commit to a dinner date next week, that Protestant, believing that she is the captain of her own destiny, will say, “Thursday night works fine for me.” But if you ask a Catholic from Calabria to make the same commitment, he will only shrug, turn his eyes to God, and ask, “How can any of us know whether we will be free for dinner next Thursday night, given that everything is in God’s hands and none of us can know our fate?””
I simply loved the way she expressed her love for the Pizza in Italy. Pizza also gets life in her imagination.
- “I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return.”
I could relate this to my mom too. We are so privileged to live in this era.
- “What I believed I grew up seeing was a mother who asked nothing of anybody. This was my mom, after all – a woman who had taught herself how to swim as an adolescent, alone in a cold Minnesota lake, with a book she’d borrowed from the local library entitled How to Swim. To my eye, there was nothing this woman could not do on her own.”
Liz also recalls the enlightened words of Virginia Woolf depicting woman’s life:
- “Virginia Woolf wrote, “across the broad continent of a woman’s life falls the shadow of a sword.” On one side of that sword, she said, there lies convention and tradition and order, where “all is correct”. But on the other side of that sword, if you’re crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention, “all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course.” Her argument was that the crossing of a shadow of that sword may bring a far more interesting existence for a woman, but you can bet it can also be more perilous.”
In just one sentence, she beautifully describes the haughtiness of an Italian glamorous lady:
- “She was exuding unbelievably glamorous air of: “You will look at me but I will refuse to look at you.””
This is marvelous- the concept of “a single word of a city, place, or yourself”. Do you have that word that could define you in entirety?
- “He said, “Don’t you know that the secret to understanding a city and its people is to learn – what is the word of the street” then he went on to explain in a mixture of English, Italian, and hand gestures, that every city has a single word that defines it, that identifies most people who live there. If you could read people’s thought as they were passing you on the streets of any given place, you would discover that most of them are thinking the same thought. Whatever that majority thought might be – that is the word of the city.”
“Antevasin” – wow! (What a word Liz found for herself)
- “I’ve spent so much time these last years wondering what I’m supposed to be. A wife? A mother?A lover? A celibate? A glutton? A traveler? An artist? A Yogi? But I’m not any of these things, at least not completely. And I’m not crazy Aunt Liz, either. I’m just a slippery antevasin – betwixt and between – a student on the ever-shifting border near the wonderful, scary forest of the new.”
And here, she lists down all what I ever want to do:
- “Just for a few months of one’s life, is it so awful to travel through time with no greater ambition than to find the next lovely meal? Or to learn how to speak a language for no higher purpose than that it pleases your ear to hear it? Or to nap in a garden, in a patch of sunlight, in the middle of the day, right next to your favorite fountain?And then do it again the next day?”
Pray In India
When Liz’s journey of India begins – the spiritual journey – she enumerates priceless words of spiritual wisdom which would undeniably elevate your soul whenever you read them:
- “The yogis, however, say that human discontentment is a simple case of mistaken identity. We’re miserable because we think that we are mere individuals, alone with our fears and flaws and resentment and mortality. We wrongly believe that our limited little egos constitute our whole entire nature. We have failed to recognize our deeper divine character. We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme Self who is eternally at peace. That supreme Self is our true identity, universal and divine. Before you realize this truth, say the Yogis, you will always be in despair, a notion nicely expressed in this exasperated line from the Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus: “You bear God within you, poor wretch, and know it not.””
- “The universe will shift, destiny’s molecules will get themselves organized and your path will soon intersect with the path of the master you need.”
- “The resting place of a mind is the heart. The only thing the mind hears all day is clanging bell and noise and argument, and all it wants is quietude. The only place the mind will ever find peace is inside the silence of the heart. That’s where you need to go.”
- “Meditate on whatever causes a revolution in your mind.”
- “I’ve heard it said that prayer is the act of talking to God, while meditation is the act of listening.”
- “Vipassana meditation teaches that grief and nuisance are inevitable in this life, but if you can plant yourself in stillness long enough, you will, in time, experience the truth that everything (both uncomfortable and lovely) does eventually pass.”
- “Your treasure – your perfection – is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the busy commotion of mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.”
- “At that moment of realization, that’s when God let me go, let me slide through His fingers with this last compassionate, unspoken message: you may return here once you have fully come to understand that you are always here.”
- “Flexibility is just as essential for divinity as is discipline.”
- “Upanishads suggests: “People follow different paths, straight or crooked, according to their temperament, depending on which they consider best, or most appropriate – and all reach You, just as river enters the ocean.””
I adore all the gyans (knowledge) Richard had to offer about controlling your mind. Worth remembering:
- “That’s just your ego, trying to make sure it stays in charge. That’s what your ego does. It keeps you feeling separate, keeps you with a sense of duality, tries to convince you that you are flawed and broken and alone instead of whole……..So, your ego’s fighting for its life, playing with your mind, trying to assert its authority, trying to keep you concerned off in a holding pen away from the rest of the universe. Don’t listen to it.”
“How do you not listen to it?”
“….Divert his attention. Instead of trying to forcefully take thoughts out of your mind, give your mind something better to play with. Something healthier.”
- “What Richard is talking about is instead admitting to the existence of negative thoughts, understanding where they came from and why they arrived, and then – with great forgiveness and fortitude-dismissing them.”
You must recognize, as Liz describes, that the role of a soul-mate in your life might not be permanent:
- “People think a soul mate is a perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul-mate is a mirror, a person that shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul-mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake…..Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave.”
Here, she admits that she is an intruder and at the same time feels the need to put an end to it:
- “Here’s the radical concept – maybe I can stop interrupting others when they are speaking. Because no matter how creatively I try to look at my habit of interrupting, I can’t find another way to see it than this: “I believe that what I am saying is more important than what you are saying.” And I can’t find another way to see than: “I believe that I am more important than you.” And that must end.”
Love in Bali
When she enters the last phase of her journey – here comes the Bali – one cannot forget the astuteness and mastery of Kitur (his trying-to-speak English language, his recommendations in medicinal realm, and his puzzling age), Wayan (the interesting healing girl) and of course her Felipe (her love-interest).
- “Kitur’s mastery was the result of his perseverance and dedication to the subject, as indicated by himself in simple words – I practice many, many years.
One letter is from a collector in Australia, praising Ketut for his painting skills, saying, ”How can you be so clever to paint with such details?” Ketut answers to me, like giving dictation: ”Because I practice many, many years.””
I couldn’t stop laughing when Liz describes Kitur’s wife:
- “He points across the courtyard at a heavyset woman who’s been standing in the shadow of her kitchen door, glaring at me like she is not sure if she should shoot me, or poison me first and then shoot me.”
There you go with the sagacious words of Kitur:
- “…how to heal my burned arm. They tell me make juice from saffron and sandalwood. Put this juice on burn. Then make powder from saffron and sandalwood. Rub this powder on burn. They tell me I must do this, then I not lose my arm.
- “…My idea is, you listen to everything this man say about God. Never argue about God with him. Best thing to say is, “I agree with you.’ Then you go home, pray what you want. This is my idea for people to have peace about religion.”
- “He says that human body is made of nothing more or less than the five elements of all creation – water (apa), fire (tejo), wind (bayu), sky (akasa) and earth (prithvi) – and all you have to do is concentrate on this reality during meditation and you will receive energy from all of these sources and you will stay strong.”
- “He said, in his solitude, he sometimes encountered devils who looked like angels, and other times he found angels who looked like devils. When asked how he could tell the difference, the saint said that you could only tell which is which by the way you feel after the creature has left your company. If you are appalled, he said, then it was a devil who had visited you. If you feel lightened, it was an angel.”
Truly said, happiness is not a stroke of luck:
- “I keep remembering one of my Guru’s teachings about happiness. She says that people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will may be descend upon you like fine weather if you’re fortunate enough. But that’s not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.”
How true this is that all the sorrow of this world is manifestation of angry people:
- “All the sorrow and the trouble of this world is caused by unhappy people.
- “The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world.”
You cannot miss Wayan for her ultra-intellectual power of healing. Here, her suggestions could be your live-saver if you are suffering from the heart break.
- “Wayan ticked off on her fingers the six elements of her Fail-Proof Broken-Heart Curing Treatment : “Vitamin E, get much sleep, drink much water, travel to a place far away from the person you loved, meditate and teach your heart that this is destiny.””
This is so me. I love framing myself presentable on every occasion. There are ladies who hate me for this but I believe in the fact that if you love yourself then you would take care of yourself consciously and that includes your appearance too.
- “Armenia said, “…Even in the worst tragedies and crisis, there’s no reason to add to everyone’s misery by looking miserable yourself. This is why I always wore makeup and jewelry into the jungle – nothing too extravagant, but maybe just a nice gold bracelet and some earrings, a little lipstick, good perfume. Just enough to show that I still had my self-respect.””
And finally, here is the list of all my favorite quotes from the book:
- He says,”Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots.’
- It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of someone else’s life with perfection.
- Your emotions are slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotion.
- You should never give yourself chance to fall apart because, when you do, it becomes a tendency and it happens over and over again. You must practice staying strong instead.
- Life, if you keep chasing it so hard, will drive you to death. Time – when pursued like a bandit – will behave like one; always remaining one county or one room ahead of you, changing its name and hair color to elude you, slipping out the back door of the motel just as you’re banging through the lobby with your newest research warrant, leaving only a burning cigarette in the ashtray to taunt you. At some point, you have to stop because it won’t. You have to admit it that you can’t catch it. That you are not supposed to catch it. At some point, as Richard keep telling me, you gotta let go and sit still and allow contentment to come to you.
- What worked yesterday doesn’t always works today.
- If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control. Drop everything else but that. Because if you can’t learn to master your thinking, you are in deep trouble forever.
- God dwells within you, as you.
- It’s easy enough to pray when you are in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments.
- If I am too truly become an autonomous woman, then I must take over that role of being my own guardian.
- Sometimes you count the days, sometimes you weigh them.
- The Yogic sages say that all the pain of a human life is caused by words, as in all the joy.
I had to force myself to stop right there. If I continued listing all my favorite dialogues here, then it would be another copy of the book only. Liz, thank you for giving us not only the book, but also the feeling!!
Shweta Kumari Sharma
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