Eat, Pray, Love, the true life novel by Elizabeth Gilbert, tells the story of one woman’s journey to pleasure, enlightenment, and happiness. Gilbert spends a year living in three different countries, four months at a time. In Italy, she learns to enjoy the visceral pleasures of life, learning a beautiful language, eating ethereal food, and most importantly, accepting that she is worthy of pleasure. In India, she lives in an austere ashram, seeking spiritual enlightenment, and finding it. In Bali, she finds love and her happy ending.
Would I like a life like Elizabeth Gilbert? Ummm….. let me think for a minute… yes, definitely. Can I afford to take a year to wander the globe and nurture my soul? No thinking required for the answer to that question… no, I can’t.
But, wait. I have one more question. Can I have the "idea" of Eat, Pray, Love within the confines the life I’m living now? The answer to that is a resounding… maybe.
I could wait until I retire, I suppose. But that’s nine long years away, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be clipping coupons like most people, in my retirement years. Life is short. Who knows if I’d even make it to retirement anyway?
So, what if I wanted to pursue the Eat, Pray, Love philosophy right now? Doing it while I’m working full-time, paying a mortgage, and being a mom. Can it be done?
The answer is a tentative yes, if I’m willing to make some adjustments.
I don’t have to travel to Italy, to enjoy good Italian food. I live in Buffalo, a mecca for really delicious Italian food done well. But the food isn’t the important thing about the Eat, Pray, Love lifestyle. It’s the “letting go and enjoying” good food that is the lesson here. It’s the “doing things that give us pleasure” point of view. Pleasure without guilt. Taking one aspect of our lives that has been on the back burner way too long, and bringing it to the forefront and embracing it one hundred percent.
And it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Learning a language, renovating a pleasurable corner in my own backyard, to sit and dream, heck… finding a restaurant that makes the best Insalata Caprese. Pleasure.
Spiritual enlightenment doesn’t require a trip to India. It helps, for sure, but it can be done in the stillness of five minutes spent wholly in the moment. Everyday. Or a yoga practice. Or a tai chi class. It can be about reconnecting to my faith. The name of the game is balance. Becoming centered and finding peace. Spiritually enlightened people throughout the centuries have done it without spending a dime. I can find my path, and steadfastly maintain it. Meditate inward without judging, have only acceptance of what is.
Love? That may be more elusive than enlightenment. For that, I might have to get out of my own way, a little. In Bali, after all her experiences, Gilbert was a changed woman. She had let go of so much of her former restrictive self and changed the course of her life by changing her perceptions. Most importantly, she had stopped searching for love. And love found her.
So, how do I apply that to the life I’m living now? First, by putting the first two steps into action and letting pleasure and balance into my life. I will automatically project a different vibe, because I’ll be learning to find fulfillment within. Then, I need to change my orbit. Not a lot. Just a small adjustment. I can alter my daily existence, and spend time in beautiful surroundings, even if it’s just on the weekends. Western New York has peaceful, lovely spots everywhere. Spend a day with nature. Meet new people.
Maybe love will find me, too. And I won’t even have to use my frequent flyer miles.