“You are part of this universe, Liz. You’re a constituent- you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me-it will at least be taken into consideration”(32).
I was captivated by the quote above, whilst reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel Eat, Pray, Love. Iva (the speaker) gives this advice to Liz when she (Liz) is explaining how she cannot petition the universe (God) to help solve her problems in life. Iva’s advice instilled a freedom and confidence in Liz that gave me a whole new view on life, much like she did with Liz.
Through looking at Liz’s hardships and the clever and always hilarious advice she gives, I came to the conclusion that her idea of home or rather feeling of home revolves around the act of finding peace to her anxieties in life. As a beloved traveler, Liz cannot be pinpointed to one place where she can call home. Instead she reveals to her readers that she found home through her journeys throughout India, Italy and Indonesia. She writes “I am loyal and constant in my love for travel, as I have not always been loyal and constant in my other loves. Because I adore it. Because it is mine” (41). It is interesting that Liz uses the words loyal and constant in her descriptions of travel because one might use those words to describe how they feel about their homeland. As we have seen in other novels we have read this semester many characters feel a sense of constant loyalty to their homelands. For example the mother in Wendt’s novel Sons for the Return Home associates her home with Samoa because it is her birthplace. Since she was born there she establishes this constant loyalty to the place because it resonates a ‘homey’ feeling within her. When Liz writes “Because it is mine” I felt that that was her way of describing that ‘homey’ feeling. She feels that traveling is sort of the rock which she works her life off of.
I like that Gilbert further establishes this new idea when she explains that a Sufi poet Rumi once advised “Better to live a life of a single-pointed focus” (29). Instead of accepting this common idea she challenges it by questioning “But what if you could somehow create an expansive enough life that you could synchronize seemingly incongruous opposites into a worldview that excludes nothing? I wanted to experience both” (29). We see her find this harmonious balance between all that she loves through her three journeys. What Liz gives to the reader is a fresh perspective on life and homeland. She shows that you can feel at home when you follow your heart’s desires and forget all of your troubles. What I loved most about this advice was that right after Liz finishes her petition her main trouble in life, her divorce, is finally settled. Once this emotionally exhausting (for both Liz and the reader) divorce is finalized Liz is able to quell her anxieties and move forward in her life. It is interesting that after the divorce is settled, Gilbert immediately writes “A few weeks later, I am living in Italy”(35). It is as if Liz is being reborn into a new life. Leaving her troubles in the past, she is able to follow her desire to move to Italy, where we see her flourish.