MY BEST PARTS OF EAT, PRAY, LOVE... THE BOOK part one Italy
This author, Liz, is my soul sister. Speaks my language, speaks for journeys I can relate with and witty AF. Above all timely. After more than 35 years of life, her journey was a mirror to help me look at mine super honestly and without judgment or fear. So I have picked phrases and paragraphs that made me smile, reflect or laugh out so loud, which she did a lot...think of them as just quotes in prose form
Coincidentally my 2021 resolutions were as the book title Eat, Pray and Love. Mission 2021.
PART ONE : ITALY
“Attraversiamo.”- Lets Cross Over
“Tandem Exchange Partner. That sounds like an innuendo, but unfortunately it’s not. All it really means is that we meet a few evenings a week here in Rome to practice each other’s languages. We speak first in Italian, and he is patient with me; then we speak in English, and I am patient with him.” I want to adapt this Business Tandem Exchange Partner with a friend.
I can’t swallow that one fixed rule of Christianity insisting that Christ is the only path to God. Strictly speaking, then, I cannot call myself a Christian. Most of the Christians I know accept my feelings on this with grace and open-mindedness. Then again, most of the Christians I know don’t speak very strictly. To those who do speak (and think) strictly, all I can do here is offer my regrets for any hurt feelings and now excuse myself from their business.
In the middle of that dark November crisis, though, I was not interested in formulating my views on theology. I was interested only in saving my life. I had finally noticed that I seemed to have reached a state of hopeless and life-threatening despair, and it occurred to me that sometimes people in this state will approach God for help.
Go back to bed, said this omniscient interior voice, because you don’t need to know the final answer right now, at three o’clock in the morning on a Thursday in November. Go back to bed, because I love you. Go back to bed, because the only thing you need to do for now is get some rest and take good care of yourself until you do know the answer. Go back to bed so that, when the tempest comes, you’ll be strong enough to deal with it.
What if he took all the assets and I took all the blame? But not even that offer would bring a settlement. Now I was at a loss. How do you negotiate once you’ve offered everything?
For the longest time, against the counsel of all who cared about me, I resisted even consulting a lawyer, because I considered even that to be an act of war. I wanted to be all Gandhi about this. I wanted to be all Nelson Mandela about this. Not realizing at the time that both Gandhi and Mandela were lawyers.
Imagine his surprise to discover that the happiest, most confident woman he’d ever met was actually—when you got her alone—a murky hole of bottomless grief.
I was despondent and dependent, needing more care than an armful of premature infant triplets. His withdrawal only made me more needy, and my neediness only advanced his withdrawals, until soon he was retreating under fire of my weeping pleas of, “Where are you going? What happened to us?”
But why must everything always have a practical application? I’d been such a diligent soldier for years—working, producing, never missing a deadline, taking care of my loved ones, my gums and my credit record, voting, etc. Is this lifetime supposed to be only about duty? In this dark period of loss, did I need any justification for learning Italian other than that it was the only thing I could imagine bringing me any pleasure right now? And it wasn’t that outrageous a goal, anyway, to want to study a language.
The next morning, I called my friend Susan as the sun came up, begged her to help me. I don’t think a woman in the whole history of my family had ever done that before, had ever sat down in the middle of the road like that and said, in the middle of her life, “I cannot walk another step further—somebody has to help me.” It wouldn’t have served those women to have stopped walking. Nobody would have, or could have, helped them. The only thing that would’ve happened was that they and their families would have starved. I couldn’t stop thinking about those women.
I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it—I will love you through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you, too. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.
He said to me the other night, “When you are ironic, I am always behind you. I am slower. It is like you are the lightning and I am the thunder.” And I thought, Yeah, baby! And you are the magnet and I am the steel! Bring to me your leather, take from me my lace! But still, he has not kissed me.
But even against that backdrop of hard work, bel far niente has always been a cherished Italian ideal. The beauty of doing nothing is the goal of all your work, the final accomplishment for which you are most highly congratulated. The more exquisitely and delightfully you can do nothing, the higher your life’s achievement. You don’t necessarily need to be rich in order to experience this, either. There’s another wonderful Italian expression: l’arte d’arrangiarsi—the art of making something out of nothing. The art of turning a few simple ingredients into a feast, or a few gathered friends into a festival. Anyone with a talent for happiness can do this, not only the rich.
I wanted to take on pleasure like a homework assignment, or a giant science fair project. I pondered such questions as, “How is pleasure most efficiently maximized?”. I realized that the only question at hand was, “How do I define pleasure?” All I had to do was ask myself every day, for the first time in my life, “What would you enjoy doing today, Liz? What would bring you pleasure right now?”
So be lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings. I barely had an adolescence before I had my first boyfriend, and I have consistently had a boy or a man (or sometimes both) in my life ever since I was fifteen years old. That was—oh, let’s see—about nineteen years ago, now. That’s almost two solid decades I have been entwined in some kind of drama with some kind of guy. Each overlapping the next, with never so much as a week’s breather in between. And I can’t help but think that’s been something of a liability on my path to maturity.
But I disappear into the person I love. I am the permeable membrane. If I love you, you can have everything. You can have my time, my devotion, my ass, my money, my family, my dog, my dog’s money, my dog’s time—everything. If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family. I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check. I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy is by becoming infatuated with someone else.
I say this because I’m still working out that accusation, which was leveled against me many times by my husband as our marriage was collapsing—selfishness. Every time he said it, I agreed completely, accepted the guilt, bought everything in the store. My God, I hadn’t even had the babies yet, and I was already neglecting them, already choosing myself over them. I was already a bad mother. These babies—these phantom babies—came up a lot in our arguments. Who would take care of the babies? Who would stay home with the babies? Who would financially support the babies? Who would feed the babies in the middle of the night?
What is Your Word Now? ESTABLISH
“Your tears are my prayers.”