“I am loyal and constant in my love for travel, as I have not always been loyal and constant to my other loves. I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless newborn baby – I just don’t care what it puts me through. Because I adore it.”
I think every woman should read at least once in her life Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”. I have first read it somewhere in 2008-2009 and it has conquered me from the first page. Recently, since I am a special case, I have decided it is time I should come back to its pages, read it once again, being almost certain that I will see it with whole new eyes (since I’ve grown a little bit since then).
I am only at the beginning, reading page by page, taking everything in, enjoying her jokes and even more than that, visualizing Rome and Italy in my mind. When I first read the book I could identify only with the heartache, the continuous search of oneself, but less with the places, the food, the “dolce far niente”.
Now, years later, I don’t only read the book, I feel it, i can smell the food, i can visualize the fountains, the parks, the streets, the people (oh yes her description of Italian man). Each page takes me straight back to the night I stayed with a friend on a bench in Piazza Navona, staring at a Triton and listened to someone singing love songs. Or to the stupendous parmigiana di melanzane I’ve ate in a small restaurant on a narrow street, next to an Italian couple who was just enjoying a quite Sunday lunch. Or the day I’ve spent getting lost in the Villa Borghese park (and fell on the stairs of the museum). The night I told a silent prayer (it is true that when you think you will die you always turn to God) in a roman taxi or the night I’ve seen the St. Paul’s Basilica through the keyhole of Villa Malta.
I can also relate to her weight problem because in Italy I was the fattest I’ve ever been so far (an accomplishment I hope will remain in the past) and I simply did not care. I cared too much about ice cream, pizza and tiramisù (which always, without a single exception brings you back up). Even if I’ve tried to exercise while I was in Italy, food was faster than I could burn calories.
Yes, it is about a woman unhappy with her life, about whom some might argue that it is still immature and cannot appreciate all the good things in her life, who can only whine and cry about a life others can only dream of. I totally agree, if you reduce it to that. But I cannot help not to relate to this, because after all, this is human nature, not being happy with what we have, constantly wanting more. Some people kill for this (I know my Discovery IC) and some people just take a deep breath and decide to leave all behind for a while and try to find themselves, work on their own on finding the balance and happiness. And yes, there are also all the others who simply accept the situation as it is and don’t ask nothing more, getting to the end only to regret their choices.
I know I relate to Elizabeth because I am just like that, I have the same fears, same Utopian and unrealistic wishes, but the book made me see that if I work hard enough with myself, all this will be left behind.
I can relate to her because I also have an “opposite of poker face, a miniature golf face”. Just like her, “when I’m excited or nervous I look excited or nervous. And when I’m lost, I look lost. My face is a transparent transmitter of my every thought”. I have to admit though that after working for at least 5 years in multinational companies (as a colleague once said: “I love my job, I love my job, I love my job”), I can see a certain progress in this, but I’m not quite there yet.
I also enjoyed very much her way of describing the process of learning another language, and not any language, but Italian. How leaving there, interacting with people on the street, in the park, in the restaurants or coffee shops is and feels.
And of course, after eating comes praying..or better yet in my case and in hers, meditating, finding oneself. The journey of the self through the self.