“The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world” (Gilbert, 261).
I’ll be completely honest, when we began reading Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love I did in fact think she was acting greedy in her travels towards self-discovery. It was absolutely necessary, both mentally and physically, for Gilbert to “find herself” in order to survive her traumatic divorce and continue on in life; however, I feel that she began her journey in the wrong mindset. In the first two sections of the book it seems that she is only striving to understand her internal structuring, yet when she gets to Indonesia, Gilbert finally begins to split the spotlight. Indonesia is definitely my favorite section of the novel, as it stresses the importance of understanding one’s individual input into the workings of the world around them. Gilbert’s greed began to evaporate as we made our way through Bali, as I came to realize that she must first understand her own inner-workings before she can work to maintain the sense of serenity surrounding her, “The madness of this planet is largely a result of the human being’s difficulty in coming into virtuous balance with himself” (Gilbert, 251). Hearing Gilbert’s story has taught me, that when one discovers genuine happiness, the people who love and care for them are actually the ones who benefit the most.
When someone is lost in life, their sadness presents those around them with an (sometimes) unintentional burden. However, once they find their path of the moment balance is restored within their cluster of loved ones. The loved ones are encouraged to remain happy themselves, as well as to work towards maintaining the searcher’s fresh sense of joy, eschewing any further hardships. In the ideal society, people would pay extra attention to the state of those around them on top of keeping track of their own well-being. Is this really why Bali is considered paradise? Gilbert has definitely learned that one must work for happiness (especially in India), yet on the final leg of her journey she is constantly reminded that one must work for the feeling of “home” as well. Whether you are working for the money to buy a home, working to build the shelter with your own two hands, or working your friends’ bank accounts, the feeling of “home” is just as arduous to attain as happiness itself, “You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings” (Gilbert, 260). The pages of every book we have read this semester have echoed the same message; happiness and home are one in the same. Their ties seem unbreakable, just as in the case of two people who truly love one another, be it sexually or not. If both parties put forth the effort to maintain this balance than the ties will absolutely remain eternal.