Eat, Pray, Love... Live

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 12 September 2010 19:33

"When a man who looks like Yoda hands you a prophecy, you have to respond."

Last week I was very lucky to get to go along to a special screening for bloggers of the new film Eat, Pray, Love, with my friend Sarah who was taking part in a panel discussion after (check out her dating blog here). I hadn't heard much about the film, only that it was based on a book which a few friends were already recommending to me. But I was so inspired by it (don't look at me like that, you will be too) that I felt a blog post coming on. And here we are.

Now I won't try and explain what it is about - instead, here is the synopsis:

Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having – a husband, a house, a successful career – yet like so many others, she found herself lost, confused, and searching for what she really wanted in life. Newly divorced and at a crossroads, Gilbert steps out of her comfort zone, risking everything to change her life, embarking on a journey around the world that becomes a quest for  self-discovery.  In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy; the power of prayer in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali. Based upon the bestselling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love proves that there really is more than one way to let yourself go and see the world.

I don't know if it's just my current age, where I am or what, but it feels like this is film is so perfectly timed - I feel like myself and most of my friends are currently going through a 'What next?' phase which is slightly terrifying and liberating all at the same time, as we wide-eyedly make life-changing decisions, sit staring into space thinking about the next step and drunkenly claim that we're going to sort our lives out, every weekend. Everyone is trying to figure out what they want, where they're going and how they're going to weave their wobbly path there from whatever they're currently doing. Some of us haven't worked it out yet, but it's in the back of our minds, or in my case on post-its covering my bedroom walls (I have to brainstorm on paper to make sense of it all). So with this in mind, I was looking forward to being inspired by someone who'd worked it all out.

The film, for me, didn't disappoint. I loved it, to sum up. Julia Roberts can't do anything wrong in my eyes, but in this film I saw beyond her and really got into the story and its characters, despite having not read the book. The cinematography was beautiful - I made mental notes to visit Rome and forget about muffin tops, to read more about India and put Bali down on my travel wishlist, along with finding the guts to get back on a bicycle (despite the well-known saying, I swear that it's quite difficult to do when you haven't done it for years). This might be why I loved the film so much I think - I haven't travelled much, and am desperate to; I love exploring new places and ever since I've had a passport all I've wanted to do is use it. (If you're asking why I haven't yet, it's the penniless writer thing). I could relate to Liz's frustrations, even if I am many years younger; with so many choices and decisions yet so many limitations and the conformity of every day life, it's hard to know what you want, what you should be doing and how to do it.

In the film, Liz struggles with and eventually masters meditation. As a sufferer of anxiety, overthinking and an overactive imagination, it's something I now want to try (though I might try yoga first and ease in gently). The thought (there we go again) of being able to clear out my mind and  have control over my own thoughts is so attractive - and will probably help with the 'What next?' question too. The good news, as one of the panelists discussed, is that you don't need to fly off to Bali or India or anywhere else in order to do that - there are centres for it all over the city and UK (ahem, check Wahanda for more info - shameless plug).

When I was watching it, everything Liz was doing made me reflect on myself (self-indulgent, I know). For starters, I loved the advice from Richard at the Ashram on letting someone go:

    “But I love him.”

    “So love him.”

    “But I miss him.”

    “So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it. You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of David because then you’ll be really alone, and Liz Gilbert is scared to death of what will happen if she’s really alone. But here’s what you gotta understand, Groceries. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with the doorway? It will rush in – God will rush in – and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed. So stop using David to block that door. Let it go.”

    “But I wish me and David could - "  

    He cuts me off. “See, now that’s your problem. You’re wishin’ too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.” (Thanks Dianisms for the quote)

I love that quote - it's so true that we give all this thinking space to things which we just need to drop and accept as complete, past, and right. We also sometimes need to drop the physical space-fillers, which is where I had a bit of a wake up call. She starts off on this journey because while her friend, happily a new mother, has a Box (ladies, we all have Boxes, I'm sure) under the bed filled with baby things which she has been collecting over time, Liz has her Box - only it's filled with clippings of places she's always wanted to travel to. I recently got rid of my Box as it was attached to a certain someone and slowly meant very little any more - I threw it away, save for a few keepsakes from places I'd visited, and started a new one, feeling better already.

The thing is - my Box is filled with bits from the past. I have old photos, old cards, letters, random little sentimental bits and pieces... which of course I'm going to hold onto for as long as they have meaning, but what am I looking forward to? Other than the post-its covering my wall and a sketchbook that I brainstorm in from time to time, I don't collect anything that might shape my future - and with travelling being top of my wishlist, I'm going to make a start on a new one.

Finally, after gawping at the screen in wonder for a good couple of hours, we had the panel discussion with a food blogger, travel editor, yoga teacher and of course Sarah for the love aspect. It turned out that some found it cheesy, a bit rose-tinted-glasses-esque and idealistic when it came to the destinations. It was also mentioned that, particularly those who had read the book, some thought Liz was a very selfish woman. Taking off and divorcing your husband out of the blue may seem selfish, as may ditching your new boyfriend to follow your dreams - but it's her life - so why the hell shouldn't she? Don't live someone else's life - live your own and enjoy it. At least, that's what I'm going to try and do. Wish me luck...

P.S. If you want to start figuring out what you want, check out Field of Dreams - a fab idea by @BangsandaBun.

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