Everyone Wants to Eat, Pray, Love

“Eat, Pray, Love,” Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling book turned movie, is more than just a blockbuster hit. It’s become a stylish and trendy mega event especially amongst the 40-something crowd, spawning a jewelry line, a line of perfumes, a limited edition tea and an entire collection from fashion designer, Sue Wong. Wow…so what is it, exactly, about this particular story that inspired such a response?

The movie chronicles the healing journey Elizabeth Gilbert takes after a devastating divorce. As she travels to Italy, India and Indonesia, she details the importance of her yoga practice, her meditation and her quest for self-healing and understanding. It’s an interestingly brave story, as she candidly depicts her own struggle as a woman who steps out of her everyday life to find herself.  

The movie reviews swing from left to right and are as varied as we are as human beings. It has come under some criticism for stereotyping and the story, as told by Gilbert, unrealistic. For example, the medicine man in Indonesia who wasn’t sure if his age was 60 or 100 was depicted as a “caricature” according to NPR writer, Mia Mask. And, New York Times writer, A.O. Scott, calls the story “disingenuous” yet also says of Gilbert “it’s hard not to be impressed by her honesty.”

I, personally, loved the book and while the movie, wasn’t as good as the book, I’d see it again….and again…and probably again.  

Apparently, I’m not the only one.

Gilbert’s memoirs pulled in around $10 million in royalties and she earned another $1 million for the film rights, according to The Daily Beast. Not a bad haul for someone who gave up or lost literally everything to go on this journey.  

But what appeals to many is Gilbert’s own personal take on all this. She says, “…what keeps me from dissolving right now into a complete fairy-tale shimmer is this solid truth, a truth which had veritably built my bones over the last few years – I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.”

In other words, she took herself in hand and said, “Self, we have to do something here. I’m not well (emotionally or physically) and if I don’t take care of this no one else will.” Then she proceeded to show up for her “self” (turning inward as we learn in Yoga) and took the effort and time to heal in her own way.

She simply made a choice.

That idea is, in my opinion, one of the fundamental reasons for the astounding response to the book and movie. It speaks to something deep inside each of us. We have a choice. We can create and live out our dreams. We just have to be willing to give ourselves permission.

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