Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gilbert: Finding the Red Road

Okay, so when I heard we were assigned to read Eat Pray Love, I silently shivered fearing that I would be drudging through a roller coaster of brief laughs and long sadness with a splice of feminine drama. Yes, I dreaded the chick-book my mother had boasted reading and loving. But when I began reading, I did too. Indeed Eat Pray Love is so much better, so much bigger then I had previously thought, with a scope spanning over three countries. As I read it became instantly clear that the entire book is a journey, a journey of faith, and self-understanding, a search for homeland.

In some ways Gilbert reminded me of Rushdie’s Christopher Columbus character in East-West. Both share an unyielding curiosity to gaze upon all the world’s twists and terms. Unlike old Benjamin however, Gilbert was searching for the most elusive thing of all, something it can literally take a lifetime to find: herself. One might think such a journey would take place in her native homeland, in meditation and family and friend consultations- but quite the opposite. She backs her bags, lifts her chin, and allows her unbound curiosity to lead her to distant homelands. To learn and live. What I took the most from reading is that she never abandon’s her homeland, but rather takes the various aspects of other worlds to shape her understanding into a more complete being. Rather than constrict herself, Gilbert opens her mind, letting curiosity take its fill. At each location there are lessons and people to learn from, and from all of them she takes and adds to her own personal homeland.

As I have discussed in many of my other blogs, when looking at any homeland, the individual always remains a key component. A culture may be shared, but an individual with their own knowledge and input adds diversity into the mix, as they are unique so is their inner-homeland. Gilbert saw things from all of these places, she loved them all. Rather than stating that one location was her specific home, she took them all as her homeland. That indeed is the beauty of one’s individual homeland: it can encompass many things, many places, many people, and all the ideas you have of them all. A homeland defines you, it is you, and you decide in your mind and soul what your homeland/s are. What I like about Gilbert is that she had the chutzpah to go out and truly discover the depth of her own inner homeland. She found her red road.

Another thing I found fascinating about the book is that at times she found parallels in these different worlds. More specifically- and somewhat diverting from the original topic – I was struck by the passage in 15, where she is talking about the Italian language. She went on to discuss how the writer Dante was the first writer to publish in Italian- and more she compared him to Shakespeare, and how they both impacted their respective homelands by their writing. I saw clearly the parallel and how with only a few lines of text she developed a commonality between two different homelands. The English major, the writer in me saw more however. I saw that like Shakespeare and Dante, we writers are called to impact our world- and like Gilbert, unify it. it is through our worlds we have the ability express different homelands while offering the reader a chance to uncover their own.

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