Sunday, August 22, 2010

On Eating, Praying, and Loving (Part I)

There’s a fine frenzy about this book... You might have heard of it.

It goes by the name Eat, Pray, Love (and yes, the movie’s out right now too). And I can tell you that this book… Well, it’s pretty darn good!

I laughed. I cried. I had my “ah-ha” moments. And then I did it all again. I learned what’s good about eating and praying and loving. Much of which I already knew, but sometimes we need someone to come along and remind us. And if you're like me, sometimes we need life’s messengers to walk right up to us and tap us on the forehead and say, “Hello? Remember?”

But I have to be honest, at this moment I can only think about one tiny part. And in that one part, it is just one quote that won’t leave me alone. It’s on repeat in my mind, and since I traipsed through Italy, India, and Indonesia, it’s all I can think about when I think about Eat, Pray, Love.

I feel like this quote was meant for me. And don’t you just love it when an author is so talented and so timely? It’s as if they knew the future "you" almost intimately, and they decided to sit down and write to your life.

Amidst the journey from her spiritual breakdown to her spiritual epiphany, Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, looked in the mirror. And what she found was something most unexpected. And what she found is what I needed to hear:

"So tonight I reach for my journal again. This is the first time I’ve done this since I came to Italy. What I write in my journal is that I am weak and full of fear. I explain that Depression and Loneliness have shown up, and I’m scared they will never leave. I say that I don’t want to take the drugs anymore, but I’m frightened I will have to. I am terrified that I will never really pull my life together.

In response, somewhere from within me, rises a now-familiar presence, offering me all the certainties I have always wished another person would say to me when I was troubled. This is what I find myself writing 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’s 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 Braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.

Tonight, this strange interior gesture of friendship—the lending of a hand from me to myself when nobody else is around to offer solace—reminds me of something that happened to me once in New York City. I walked into an office building one afternoon in a hurry, dashed into the waiting elevator. As I rushed in, I caught an unexpected glance of myself in a security mirror’s reflection. In that moment, my brain did an odd thing—it fired off this split-second message: “Hey! You know her! That’s a friend of yours!” And I actually ran forward toward my own reflection with a smile, ready to welcome that girl whose name I had lost but whose face was so familiar. In a flash instant of course, I realized my mistake and laughed in embarrassment at my almost doglike confusion over how a mirror works. But for some reason that incident comes to mind again tonight during my sadness in Rome, and I find myself writing this comforting reminder at the bottom of the page:
Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a FRIEND…

I fell asleep holding my notebook pressed against my chest, open to this most recent assurance. In the morning when I wake up, I can still smell a faint trace of depression’s lingering smoke, but he himself is nowhere to be seen. Somewhere during the night, he got up and left. And his buddy loneliness beat it, too.”

I can’t get this part out of my mind. And those bold words come together to make the quote I can’t stop thinking about: Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a FRIEND….

It’s the crux of the novel. It’s the heart of the message. It’s the crème de la crème. It’s the—Well, you get the point...

We should never forget that in every moment we are our own best friend. There is beauty and power in self-love. Whether we are in the midst of sitting atop a golden mountain or whether we are knee deep in the muck of the darkest valley, it is okay to stop and love ourselves.

In fact, it’s a necessity that we put our arms around ourselves, in the form of a hug, a reminder, or a welcoming. It’s vital we find the things to love about ourselves and ignore the messages of a superficial culture. Because it isn’t until we learn to love the pieces that makes us who we are that we can let genuine outside love in from our God, our lover, our family, and our friends...

And when we let that love in, it multiplies. And when we let that love in, it becomes home.

And isn’t that what this journey is about? Don’t we deserve this intimate friendship? Don’t we deserve to hear the words, “I’m here. I love you. I’ll stay with you” from our own voice?

If you can know just one thing, know this: You are worthy to be loved, and that love starts with you!


Please come back to The Universal Soul for Part II of On Eating, Praying, and Loving…

6 comments:

  1. Loved the book and the movie too.. what a fantastic post!

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  2. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Please feel free to share The Universal Soul with others... :)

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  3. This is exactly what I'm dealing with right now. I don't recognize myself as a friend or anyone that I know right now. Sometimes I feel like I'm living life on autopilot, just going through the motions.

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  4. I loved this book so much! I'm excited for part two :)

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  5. I am so glad you all enjoyed. This post is the 2nd most read post on TUS, so thank you to all 110 so far that have read! :)

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  6. That's EXACTLY the same dog-eared page in my copy of Eat Pray Love. I recognized the description of Depression and Loneliness like they were roommates, and I didn't even know they lived with me. I recently succeeded in evicting them but I know they lurk in shadows, stalking me and waiting for me to let my guard down. Now I'm just working on rebuilding my relationship with Self.

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