Tag Archives: Elizabeth Gilbert

Why I Love “EAT, PRAY, LOVE,” & Inspiring Elizabeth Gilbert TED Talk

13 Feb

Three years ago, a guy I was dating on-again, off-again, gave me a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “EAT, PRAY, LOVE” during an off-period, and said the book made him think of me, or I reminded him of her, or something to that effect. 

Initially, I was just excited to have any contact with him, because contact, especially that involving giving one a book, especially a book reminding him of me, or the admittance that he thought or was thinking of me, usually led, shortly thereafter, to an on-again period.  So I started reading the book…

Now, sometimes you read a book and you’re like, “I can relate to this book, this author, these words, these thoughts.”  And other times, it goes a step further, when you’re like, “These are my exact thoughts!  This is ME!”  That’s how I felt when I read “EAT, PRAY, LOVE” and the way I imagine countless others connected with her words as well, seeing how people pour over her recognizable mala bead-marked pages on subways.

For instance, on page 20, I underlined “something like a cross between a golden retriever and a barnacle,” Elizabeth Gilbert’s description of how she is in love.  “That’s ME!”  I thought.  “I’M a golden-retriever-barnacle!” oscillating between feeling validated that someone had given a name to my behavior in love, and feeling sullen remembering that on-again/off-again guy thought of me when he read this book, and possibly those words, and did he think, “Jen is SUCH a golden-retriever-barnacle, I’m going to give this to her!”?  And then back to feeling understood, and coming to terms with and even embracing my golden-retriever-barnacle-ness.

After many more on-again, off-again periods, the guy and I have become off period.  And after each on turned into an off, I would purge the things he gave me – books, emails, whatever – to symbollically break our ties and make room for a new relationship, a new guy, who would hopefully just be “on.”  But “EAT, PRAY, LOVE” survived every single purging, and there were many (at least 2 pre-“EPL” and 4 post-“EPL”).  And over time, I got custody of this book, and it has become more mine than something he gave me.

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A group of friends and I email daily gratitude lists to each other, which is something I have been doing for close to 4 years starting with a small core group, and expanding over time so I now send and receive lists to/from about 20 women.  People often include inspiring quotes, resources, and links at the top or bottom of their lists, and this week, one of the women included a link to this Elizabeth Gilbert TED Talk about creativity.  It got me thinking back to when I read “EAT, PRAY, LOVE” in February 2006, and how, when I finished the last word on the last page and closed the book, I felt a twinge of sadness, like I wasn’t going to see this friend anymore, who I had gotten used to meeting on the page everyday, and hearing her stories, and I would miss her.  I am a voracious reader and always have many books lined up on deck, so when I snap one book shut, I immediately open another and start devouring it.  But when I finished “EAT, PRAY, LOVE” and closed it for the last time (not counting the times I have opened it to refer back to it since), I deliberately did not start another book right away, and I decided to wait a day, and sit with what I had just read and let it marinate.

When I find a book I feel this way about, when I hear my thoughts and worries and dreams in someone else’s words, I know early on, from the first passages of the book, and dive into the pages breathlessly, thrilled by the sense of recognition, and spend every free minute and spare second reading it and only surface when I’ve finished.

This is a huge part of why I read – to find that connection on the page, with another person, and with myself.  For that moment when I am reading and feel, “This writer is like me.  I am not alone.”  And this is a huge part of why I write – to connect with myself and through that with others, on the page, computer screen, or in an email.  And hope that someone will read my words and know that they are not alone.

We all have stories, thoughts, words, and dreams to share with each other.  Reading each other’s words, we will find that we have commonalities that will surprise and soothe.  Put your stories, thoughts, words, and dreams down on paper, online, or in an email and share them with someone or someones; it may be exactly what they need to read to know that they are not alone.  And together, through our stories, through our greatest fears and our grandest dreams, we are all, connected, we are all, not alone.

Happy Valentine’s & Presidents’ Day Weekend, and check out this inspiring video to kick off the holiday weekend!

Lots of love!

Jen xoxo

Copyright © 2009 by Jennifer Garam