During our discussion in class on Tuesday, I found myself feeling mixed about Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the book; I actually found her entertaining and the writing to be witty and fun. She has a way of phrasing things that is different from any other I’ve read. I liked the unique vibe of her writing. My issue was with Liz herself. I understand that it is important for one to “find him or herself,” that knowing yourself individually is vital for sharing a life with someone else. However, I do think that she was being a bit selfish when she decided to divorce her husband, have a fling with another man, and then bolt to foreign countries for a year. You can’t do something like that without being a little selfish.
Now I’m not saying that selfishness is horrible; in fact, I think that a little bit of self-centeredness is important in one’s life. You can’t always be living for the people around you, and it’s important to do things because you want to do them. That being said, the choices you make are bound to affect the people around you. That’s a given. So when Liz decides that she wants to (re)discover herself, I applaud her for taking a brave step that most people never would never consider doing, but didn’t she have a commitment to keep? She was married for a number of years… call me old fashioned, but I believe that if you marry someone, you’re pledged to that individual for the rest of your life.
Obviously, this isn’t the same perception as the rest of society. Divorce rates are increasing each year because people don’t believe in the sacredness of marriage anymore. Why even get married at all when you can just live together? I know my thought process goes against most of modern America, and that’s okay. I don’t hate divorced people (I really don’t hate divorced people), and even though this makes it sound like I’m attacking them, I promise that’s not my intent. I just think that someone needs to stick up for poor marriage, because, well… it’s mahwage. And mahwage is what bwings us together today. Sorry, I had to do it.
Wuv, twoo wuv...
I’ll stop now.
But seriously, I honestly believe that if two people get married, they have a commitment to stay with each other, for better or worse. This just isn’t the case nowadays; instead, couples get to hit the reset button. They get a ‘do-over’ because the first time around didn’t work out the way they expected. Let’s make something clear: spending the rest of your life with one other person is HARD. It is. Ask anyone who’s been married more than fifteen or even ten years. Marriage is hard work, but it’s also widely rewarding. I’m not exactly an expert on marriage, considering I’m not even married yet, but I’m working on it. Just because I don’t have a wife, though, doesn’t mean I can’t speak on the topic.
Now back to the text.
My mixed feelings about Liz and her book stems from my opinion toward marriage and my opinion toward being an individual. I think knowing yourself is just as important as fulfilling the commitment of marriage; ideally, it’s best to do the first before the second (know yourself before getting married). But in the author’s situation, where she didn’t discover herself before marrying her husband, I can understand her desire to be independent for awhile in order to just focus on her. It’s a necessary aspect of life. You need to know yourself, know who you are standing on your own two feet without the presence of someone else. Knowing yourself means that you know what you deserve, especially in a relationship.
Now you see where my problem lies. I’m pretty avid with my views toward marriage: once you commit, you commit for life. At the same time, I understand how important it is for a person to know him/herself. So I guess I’m both proud and disappointed in Liz, if that’s even possible…
Being content with oneself by finding who he/she truly is enables that person to feel peace, to feel at home. While Liz may not have a physical home in the sense that she doesn’t have a permanent residence, she is able to feel at home through her newfound spirit. She spends time doing things that she wants; she is enlivening her soul, living her life to its fullest capacity.
Feeling at home with oneself is just as important as living in a tangible home. Just as a house needs repairs and renovations, one’s inner home undergoes transformations throughout life. Sometimes is happens unconsciously, sometimes we go out and renovate ourselves like Liz.