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Eat, Pray, Love inspires all

*Eat, Pray, Love* is the true life story of a woman’s international quest to find herself. (credit: Celia Ludwinski | Assistant Photo Editor) *Eat, Pray, Love* is the true life story of a woman’s international quest to find herself. (credit: Celia Ludwinski | Assistant Photo Editor)

Eat, Pray, Love is the memoir of Elizabeth Gilbert, who travels across Italy, India, and Indonesia to pursue pleasure, devotion, and a balance of the two.

After her divorce, Gilbert decides to discover what she really wants in life and goes on a personal journey across nations to find her balance. She “tells the truth” through 108 tales, distributed equally among all three countries, and she has the same number of stories as the numbers of beads of the japa mala. Japa malas, literally meaning prayer necklaces, are strings of 108 beads used by Hindu and Buddhist monks to repeat a mantra on every bead.

Concentrating on her spiritual journey through this mala, Gilbert first takes us to Italy. There, she spends four months, learning Italian and eating gelato for breakfast in Rome and pizza in Naples. During her time in Italy, she rediscovers what pleasure means. Making new friends and learning the Italian way of living, she explores the meaning of the word pleasure and what it means to enjoy life. Truly in love with Rome, she tries to understand if Rome is where she belongs. Her friend Guilo tells her how “the secret to understanding a city and its people is to learn — what is the word on the street?” While for Rome the word may be “sex” and for the Vatican “power,” Gilbert tries to find out the word that describes her. At the end of her time in Italy, she decides to attaversare, meaning cross over, to her next country.

Trading worldly pleasures for an austere life, Gilbert then heads to an ashram in India. She tries to get used to a simple life of doing seva, or social service, and performing meditation. During her time in India, she describes her struggles with meditation and leading an austere life and how she manages to find her divine connection. At the ashram, Gilbert meets Richard from Texas, who nicknames her Groceries and guides her through her internal struggles. Any reader who has ever tried meditating on a regular basis may have encountered struggles like Gilbert did, and her having achieved a state of meditation gives hope to all the readers that they can achieve it too.

To combine the lives of pleasure and devotion and find a life of balance between the two, Gilbert’s final destination is Bali in Indonesia. She meets the medicine man, Ketut Liyer, and lives in Bali for the next four months improving his English and learning more about his practices. She also meets Wayan, a Balinese healer and a single mother, and becomes good friends with her. Growing close to her, she raises funds to help build a permanent house for Wayan and learns how things work differently in Bali, especially when one is a foreigner. She also meets Felipe, a Brazilian jeweler living in Bali. She comes to terms with love in Bali, where she starts dating Felipe, whom she later marries. At the end of her year-long journey, Gilbert learns more about herself and decides to attaversare into her new found life.

Last Monday, Gilbert kicked off this year’s Drue Heinz lecture series at the Carnegie Music Hall. Gilbert was recently in Rome for the filming of the movie Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem. She read an introduction to her forthcoming book Committed, which is about how she came to terms with marriage, especially after her first unsuccessful one.

Answering questions from her admirers, she gave advice to budding writers and mentioned how she has no trouble “telling the truth” about her life. She mentioned that even though people think that she has achieved a perfect life, nobody’s life is perfect every day. Each day is a new struggle to make it the ideal day. Lastly, she closed her talk by telling us all how we should try to live our dreams, one step at a time. It may not happen overnight, but if we keep working toward our goals, we will achieve them.

Eat, Pray, Love is every person’s journey and what each of us decides to do with it. It truly is, as the cover says, “one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia.” The book is about asking yourself the right questions for discovering your own life. It is a memoir and a travelogue — have an inward odyssey while traveling the world with Gilbert.