Eat, Pray, Love, and Vacation
Aug 15 2010

Hamilton Pool

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I just got back from a week long part stay-cation and part away-cation with some friends who live in two different cities.  We visited some local Austin famous places like the Oasis and Hamilton Pool.  We also saw The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (nice movie).   I always feel so blessed after I get to spend time with these particular friends because I’ve known them for 20+ years now.   Our kids have virtually grown up together and at one point in each of their lives, they thought they were cousins.  It didn’t matter that we looked different, to them they just felt like family.  I feel lucky to have them in my and my kids lives.

During this time, I read a very interesting book (that most of the rest of the world already knows about because the movie is now out starring Julia Roberts) Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (Amazon Link) by Elizabeth Gilbert.   It was if the author was writing parts of my story!  It got enough positive reviews to warrant a movie starring Julia Roberts but it certainly touched a nerve with some of the Amazon reviewers who decided it was self indulgent!  One of the moms at a water park we went to  saw I was reading it and told me how great it was and she loved it.  She told me “just wait until you get to the part when she’s in India.”  This is obviously a book that elicits very different responses from people depending where they are in their life/spiritual journey.

I won’t quote some of passages (that I desperately want to) here because my blog is read by many people…not just women age 30+ going through a mid-life awakening and search for meaning.  This is a non-fiction account of the author’s experience of taking one year ‘off’ to find God/herself.  She does not have kids and received a hefty book advance which makes this a much easier endeavor.  She spends 4 months in Italy (eating), 4 months in India (praying), and 4 months in Indonesia, specifically Bali (loving).   She writes about divorce, marriage, God, spirituality, crushes, love, food, different cultures, depression, not wanting to live, yoga, meditation, physical intimacy, soul mates, etc.  The only character in India who the author says she uses his real name is Richard from Texas.  Richard has an interesting take on soul mates (see quote below) and apparently he builds houses in Austin.  I SO want to run into Richard from Texas some day!  Given I live in Austin, it might happen.  Now for some quotes:

“Sincere spiritual investigation is, and always has been, an endeavor of methodical discipline.  Looking for Truth is not some kind of spazzy free-for-all, not even during this, the great age of the spazzy free-for-all.” p. 2.

I’m not going to type it all here, but the top of p. 49 she talks about how she tried to make sense of her depression and why she would feel this way from chemical, diet, seasonal, to being an artist/writer, to her situation, to her parents, to xyz and she concluded it was probably a little bit of everything and things she didn’t even understand.

“Virginia Woolf wrote, ‘Across the broad continent of a woman’s life falls the shadow of a sword.’  On one side of that sword, she said, there lies convention and tradition and order, where ‘all is correct.’ But on the other side of that sword, if you’re crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention, ‘all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course.’  Her argument was that the crossing of the shadow of that sword may bring a far more interesting existence to a woman, but you can bet it will also be more perilous.” p. 95

“The Bhagavad Gita – that ancient Indian Yogic text – says that is is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” p. 95

“The classical Indian sages wrote that there are three factors which indicate whether a soul has been blessed with the highest and most auspicious luck in the universe: 1. To have been born a human being, capable of conscious inquiry. 2. To have been born with – or to have developed – a yearning to understand the nature of the universe.  3. To have found a living spiritual master.” p. 124

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants.  But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.  A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.  But to live with a soul mate forever?  Nah.  Too painful.  Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave.  And thank God for it….[they] shake you up…tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you [have] to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master and beat it.” p. 149

“To know God, you need only to renounce one thing – your sense of division from God.  Otherwise, just stay as you were made, within your natural character.” p. 192

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.  You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.  You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.  And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.” p. 260

“The Yogic sages say that all the pain of a human life is caused by words, as is all the joy.  We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendant emotions that jerk us around like dogs on a leash.  We get seduced by our own mantras (I’m a failure…I’m lonely…I’m a failure…I’m lonely…) and we become monuments to them.  To stop talking for a while then, is to attempt to strip away the power of words, to stop choking ourselves with words, to liberate ourselves from our suffocating mantras.” p. 325

Yes, this is a great book to read for those of you on a journey ‘to understand the nature of the universe’ which is a means to understand yourself.

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