Am I the only one who has had wanderlust being landlocked during this pandemic? When I saw “Eat Pray Love” was on Netflix, I poured some wine, made some pasta, and hit play. This whole movie felt like warm, cozy, fulfilling gratification that gave me some strong indications of what my soul is yearning for.
After Liz makes the enormous decision to totally switch gears in her life, her journey begins in Italy. A particular scene that was monumental and laid the foundation for Liz’s journey was when she was in the barber shop with her new Italian friends. The scene goes like this:
Liz- “I feel so guilty.I’ve been in Rome three weeks and all I’ve done is learn a few Italian words and eat.”
Luca Spaghetti (Italian in the Hairdresser chair)- “You feel guilty because you are American. You do not know how to enjoy yourself.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“It’s true- Americans know entertainment, but don’t know pleasure… You want to know your problem? Americans. You work too hard. You get burned out. Then you come home and spend the whole weekend in your pajamas in front of the TV.”
“That’s not far off actually.”
“But you don’t know pleasure. You have to be told you’ve earned it. You see a commercial that says, ‘It’s Miller time.’ and you say, ‘That’s right, now I will buy a six pack and drink the whole thing and wake up the next morning and feel terrible. But an Italian doesn’t need to be told. He walks by a sign that says ‘you deserve a break today’ and he says, ‘yeah, I know, that’s why I’m planning on taking a break at noon…..’”
Another man in a barber chair says: “We call it ‘dolce far niente.’ It means the sweetness of doing nothing. We are masters of it.’”
This was such a beautiful scene. It was light hearted, but honestly really freaking powerful. Luca called us out. Luca called me out. I honestly have not been able to connect to pleasure in quite a long time. Traveling in the past has been the gateway to my connection to self and true, authentic pleasure. It lends me the perspective I need to feel alive in my own life and see all the beauty around me that I sometimes have a hard time seeing when it is right in front of me.
This conversation gave Liz permission to continue on her journey in freedom: buying bigger pants, not carrying around guilt of enjoying those delicious carbs, savoring every sip of wine and good conversation. This was the part of her journey where she could come up for air from her own life.
The next leg of her journey was one that was going to challenge her in life-changing, in-depth ways. Liz stayed in a yoga ashram in Ganeshpuri, a pilgrimage centre of Mumbai (Bombay). Here Liz learned the power of prayer and began the process of forgiving herself with the help of her new friend Richard.
Liz then made her way to her third and final leg of her journey and headed to Indonesia to meet with Ketut. Here she finds inner peace, balance, and even love. First I would like to say, I think we all need a Ketut in our lives. It felt like after Liz was broken open, this part of her journey was about her being put back together again, even better, stronger, and more connected than before. She embraced the idea of balance. She strengthened her meditation practice as well as being able to enjoy her life and even how to smile with her liver…something I can’t say that I have experienced.
She then met a wonderful man and fell in love. I felt her pain when she was so scared to allow him in and risk losing her newfound balance. And if I’m being honest, there was a part of me that didn’t even want her to end up with Felipe because I was getting so much life from her connection to herself.
I knew something was up because I am quite the romantic and normally melt on the inside with a beautiful love story. But what I realized is that the love story I am truly craving in this season of my life is one with myself.
I am yearning to enjoy the pleasure of being with myself, of embracing all the parts of myself: the good, the ‘bad’, and the ugly. I am yearning to feel the salty sea air on my face, breathe in the warmth of the sun with complete trust and freedom of knowing I love exactly who I am and I really do have everything I need right inside of me.
I had a friend share with me that she was breaking up with this concept of her self-inflicted rejection. She said, “I’ve lived a life in rejection of myself, and I realize I can break up with rejection.” This is basically what Liz Gilbert did.
On her journey, Liz did not have one person in her life that supported the huge decision to listen to the cries of her soul. What she wanted and needed was not conventional. Rather than rejecting herself and what she was crying out for, she leaned in, got uncomfortable, and came out more alive because of it.
So as I lived vicariously through Elizabeth Gilbert on her journey- the main takeaways that I thought could be helpful for us all as we are surviving the pandemic were:
- Awaken your senses with presence as you give yourself permission to savor a glass of wine or cup of coffee, or sitting on the balcony watching the snowfall.
- Carve space to literally do nothing- and savor it. Even if its sitting on your bed in your towel after a hot shower for five minutes.
- Spend intimate time with yourself through meditation (guided or self-led) and journaling. Journaling does not have to be pen to paper. Journaling could be snapping a photo a day that captures what you are feeling, pulling out those water colors, dancing those feels around your apartment, singing at the top of your lungs in the shower.
- Cultivate your own love story with yourself. This can look a million different ways for a million different people. I don’t subscribe to the notion that we have to be madly in love with ourselves before we can find romantic love. I believe we are all on a journey of learning to love ourselves well. And some of the most fulfilling love I have experienced has been giving myself the love that I need.
The pandemic has hindered us in a lot of ways. It has also illuminated a lot of things for us that we may not have been able to see or at least were able to see sooner. We may not be able to travel to Bali tomorrow, (although I have been looking into retreats there for the future), but we can embrace the hope of being alive and all the small pleasures that come along with it. We are getting near the end of this thing and there is hope. Cheers to your journey of coming alive more and more as you savor the small pleasures and continue to grow more in love with yourself.
“I think you have the capacity, someday, to love the whole world.”
– Richard speaking to Liz Gilbert