Late on the Bandwagon
2008-05-01, 4:35 p.m.
So... I have apparently hopped on the Oprah bandwagon and read Eat, Pray, Love. Sigh. This was a book I ignored when it came out, mainly because (a) Oprah, and (b) I thought, "Someone who goes off to an ashram in India? Do not relate. Uck. No. I already have issues with meditation as is without that holier-than-thou crap." (You'd think after having had to do meditation since freaking kindergarten, I might be more holier-than-thou about it myself, but nope.) I have no explanation as to why I picked up, stole, highlighted and bookmarked my mother's copy while visiting this weekend.
Okay, wait, I know why. It's because during my shrink session the day before, she said I should just try to do NOTHING for awhile, rather than searching so hard for goals and getting nowhere at it. I suppose she's right, though I think it's frustrating as all hell. Well, if you're gonna do nothing, might as well read about meditating in an ashram all day, right?
I do not like Katie Roiphe, but I kinda felt like her about it before picking it up. But...dude, it's good. The author is not an over-enlightened sanctimonious Buddhist or whatever at all. She ain't holier than thou even after India. She's a crier and she's whiny and she admits what she was like and gets over it. She has her highs and her lows and relates them all, and she tries to make the whole experience as accessible as possible. Sure, one can (and many have) make comments about how someone has enough money to take off for an entire year just from making a book deal, and the impossibility of doing that yourself, but hey, not everyone's going to do that or be called to do that. Even she is all, "That was my path, it worked for me, I'm a total travel addict and the sort who WOULD run off to go see an Indonesian medicine man. Feel free to do your own thing." All righty.
Bare plot rundown: at 31, a married Elizabeth realizes that despite years of "when I'm 30, I'll settle down and have a family" expectations, she really really doesn't wanna, and that will end her marriage. She has a religious experience on the bathroom floor where after fervent prayer, she gets a message from on high saying, "Go back to bed, Liz." (Hee.) Eventually she sucks it up and asks for a divorce, and her husband is so butthurt he puts her through the wringer about it for years.
After the divorce finally comes through (more divine intervention, in a fun scene to read), she comes up with a plan of recovery: (a) go to Italy for four months and rest up and stuff herself silly, (b) go to the ashram in India for another four months, where she has a tricky time, has expectations change, and makes an amusing friend, and (c) go to Indonesia and hang out with the medicine man, make a new healer friend, and oh, get laid. And it works for her. So, good for her.
I come from a different spiritual area than Liz, but some things she says are definitely things I've experienced/related to. Okay, not so much the meditation bits, but she's not wrong. And I like her take on the whole thing, that it's a female quest (something discouraged in literature) and you should honor that and you should just keep asking yourself what you really really really (yes, 3 reallys are important!) want and go do it, even if it's silly stuff like "go learn Italian." (I will say that my uh, killer clown issue is far sillier than anything Liz did, but oh well, I'm just trying to go with that. Especially since so far that's all that comes up on the 3 really's.)
In related news, I got this oracle deck, which is actually pretty straightforward. That's kind of the fun of oracle decks- tarot you can nitpick and discuss and read books on forever, but when someone designs an oracle deck, they can decide to be MUCH more specific as to what the cards mean. No thinking! Rock!
Here's the cards I got in a reading I did:
Present: Have Faith- "Accept that all things happen for a spiritual reason, which you may not always fully understand. Your journey is what it is for a reason. Where are you being asked to have faith and let go of control?"
Past: Begin to Explore- "Your soul is simply reigniting the fire of your true being. This sudden longing for the unknown is your soul's way of leading you back to joyful spirit. Rather than fight these crazy impulses, surrender to them- even if they make no sense or have no specific direction. Follow your spirit and try something completely out of the ordinary."
Immediate future: Rejuvenate. "Sometimes doing nothing is the most powerful action you can take, for as you relax, you'll attract what you were striving for." (Kind of funny how the blurb for this really boiled down to "go outside and do nothing, dammit.")
What you're failing to see: Express Your Joy. Basically a bunch of inner child stuff...
Long-term opportunity: Admit Your Vulnerabilities. "Embrace your vulnerability, stop allowing your ego to manipulate or scare you into trying to exercise absolute control over your life."
So...yeah, basically more "accept this wacky thing in your head, lie back and do nothing."