Thursday, April 7, 2011

Finding her 109th bead

To conclude the first half of the semester, we asked ourselves: How does one attain freedom/liberation? We discovered that, often, what is comfortable might actually be binding us, like the slaves that Harriet Tubman couldn’t free. In class we defined the goal of education as: the liberation from every oppressive situation. And Rushdie taught us that we have the power to rename the world and thus redefine it. Elizabeth Gilbert recognized the ropes that were around her neck—the ones she had truly already chosen, and broke free. She had chosen the ropes of “the prestigious home in Hudson valley, the apartment in Manhattan, the eight phone lines, the friends and the picnics and the parties, the weekends spent roaming the aisles of some box-shaped superstore…” and then realized that she was in fact enslaved by her choices (11). With that knowledge she decides to make harmony out of the chaos that was her life. In the context of 9/11 and the similarly destructive forces that was becoming of her marriage/divorce she essentially discovers that she needs to find her center—her 109th bead. She frames her journey in a limited structure, similar to her book: three places, three parts, 36 stories, but otherwise opens herself up to the world to allow it to enter her soul and pull out what has been missing. As in the poem Cheer by Stanley Plumly, she drinks in the intoxicating essence of the world, discovering freedom in the process. She furthers her education through her experiences as the only true was to liberate herself from her situation. Because she had become so limited in her confines of the so-called perfect life in which she had been involved in a relationship since the age of fifteen, she never got to experience the freedom to dance in her kitchen on Friday nights as poets like Amy Fleury embrace. Luckily, however, Gilbert breaks free and allows herself the chance to find this sense of empowerment that had been so missing from her life. She truly redefines her own world and in the process, manages to help her readers redefine theirs by asking us to look into ourselves to see if the path that we have chosen is what will ultimately lead us to fulfillment.

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