Elizabeth Gilbert takes us on a journey of self-discovery in her collection of memoirs, Eat, Pray, Love to the “three I’s”, better known as Italy, India, and Indonesia. Gilbert’s comedic voice makes it an entertaining read; in fact, you feel like one of her best friends as she takes you on her year-long trip and relays personal confessions about her life. It’s also inspiring that Gilbert learns about herself by learning about others in each country. This trip around the world will take her twelve months, in which she will spend four in each country.
Soon after her divorce is finalized and she gets out of a bad relationship with her new beau, she goes to Italy to experience the pleasurable side of life. This is a much needed vacation for her after the emotional trauma she has endured from her divorce and other close relationships. In Italy, primarily in Rome, she experiences all types of pleasures, but is determined to refrain from sexual relationships with men. The irony is that, as she soon learns from her friend, Luca Spaghetti, that “sex” symbolizes Rome! In addition to wine and the never-ending food, Liz takes to learning Italian.
In India, Liz spends all of her time in an Ashram, where she learns to perfect her meditation skills. She also unexpectedly learns to let go of her guilt and past issues, with a little help from her friends, Richard from Texas, and Sean, the Irish plumber/poet. Throughout her experiences here, she discusses a problem most of us have with meditation: we can’t quiet our minds! If we learn to be still and accept things as they come, we can then find forgiveness and peace with whatever we feel is wrong in our lives.
After a more serious four months, she spends the rest of the year dedicated to the “I’s” in Indonesia. Here, Gilbert’s mission is to find balance in her life. First, she tracks down Ketut Liyer, a medicine man whom she had met briefly during a previous trip here. Her expectations are to learn all about balancing her life solely from this elderly man. However, she makes more acquaintances, and even falls in love with a Brazilian businessman, Felipe. Collectively, they all teach Liz a little about balance. In our sometimes crazy lives, it is the people in them that pull everything together and make it worthwhile. Even love can be complicated, as all relationships are, but it is also the ultimate balancer in life.
When going with Liz along her journeys of self-discovery in her memoirs, you will find that you will take the lessons she learns into your heart as well. At the same time, she makes a valid point that religion is also important, but whatever we practice is correct, as long as it brings peace and love to ourselves and the world.