I recently ended an on and off again relationship. Eat Pray Love left me for somebody else. I don’t who. But somebody else is going to have his, or her, grubby little hands all over EPL! I spent all this time with EPL in bed. By the pool. Snuggled up on airplanes. And now EPL has stopped putting out. Two seconds ago we were together in Bali! Now I’m on my bed, sweltering under this inferno of a MacBook.
This book picked me up at my friend Shelley’s apartment. I was seduced by its big vocabulary and wild ambition. The dramatic details of author Elizabeth Gilbert‘s situation are not important. She was lost. She was determined to find inner peace. She traveled to Italy, India and Indonesia. As a result of her beautiful book, I got to go too! It’s a jaunt I’m thankful to have had the pleasure to romp around in for a few weeks.
Out of the journey, I walked away with lots of things, but really these two things.
Excerpt. Yogic sages say that all the pain of a human life is caused by words, as is all the joy. We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendant emotions that jerk us around like dogs on a leash. We get seduced by our own mantras and become monuments to them.
I feel liberated just typing it. Dwelling on events inherently leads to a path of word scrutiny. The cadence of her tone. The exasperation of his look. As time goes on your memory fades, yet anger and emotion can become exponentially more intense. How? To Liz’s point, we internalize and let these things define us. ‘I’m sad’ is a classic Caitlin mantra that I’ve adopted. So simple. So evocative at the same time.
Who doesn’t internalize these things? I’m not a good enough writer. I’m lonely. I’m not smart enough. I’m too emotional. I’m afraid to travel so far into the ocean that the shoreline fades away. Saying these things creates a reality. It’s easy to build a life around them. Liz says it and I second this, it’s much harder to go through all of the emotions and make a concerted effort to change knowing veritably it’s a vicious cycle that will be impossible to overcome until these thoughts succumb to brazen determination. Seeping into depression by letting words and events take over is easy. It’s comfortable. It’s also miserable.
Many times, I’ve treated my mother passing away the way I think she would have. Dismissive. “Lauren, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss.” And I say something like, “Oh it’s ok. I like to think of the good things that came from it. My father and I are much closer now.” Ok. Yes, that is true. My father and I forged a deeper bond. I assume, but how could I know, people walk away thinking that’s a great outlook. And it is. For a robot. A robot just rounding third base headed straight for full-fledged E. MO. SHUN. I should probably amend this crazy mantra of cyborgs and say instead, “Thank you for your sympathies. She was an amazing woman. I will miss her always.”
Apparently it took about four years, a 30-something named Elizabeth Gilbert getting divorced and moving to Bali for me to understand that. Discovery #3 When people give their sympathy I should accept it not deflect it.
And to Liz, my now dear friend, I don’t know how to repay you. This brings me to the second thing I walked away with! She says instead of wanting to pay one another back, “it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely.” Amen. Today I am thankful for… 1. Liz Gilbert for spreading so much positivity with her book. 2. My brilliant boyfriend. 3. My loving father and brothers. 4. Caitlin O’Shea. My best friend. My partner in the unexplored. 5. Streetwise Partners. I’ve volunteered there to try to give back, but I meet the most amazing people. I feel like I should be paying to be able to help out! What are you thankful for? Discovery #4 Giving back is really one of the best ways to heal a heart in need of mending.
Check out my friend Liz’s TED Talk. A new way of thinking about creativity. Imponente!