I recently finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love in which she chronicles a year spent living abroad: 4 months each in Italy, India and Indonesia. She undertook this solitary trip after a complicated divorce, as a self-defined indulgence of personal longings to visit each of these locales; in India to specifically study at a particular Ashram.
I’ve read several indictments of Gilbert’s book, critical of her self-indulgence and upper-middle-class angst. To me, however, these criticisms seem largely unfair distractions from an underlying theme: working through existential depression. While Gilbert’s geographic journey is not practical, feasible nor even necessarily advisable for others suffering from this malady, I found the transformation she experienced – the result of what was undeniably hard work during her yearlong quest – uplifting and inspiration.
Enjoying her writing, and deriving some hope from the stability and strength she gained throughout her year abroad, I can’t say that I want to emulate her life or choices. My own path is something quite different, and it in turn is not something practical, feasible nor even necessarily advisable for others. I feel like we each find our own way based on our values, our circumstances, and the people with whom we choose to associate. If we work hard enough, and if we have a bit of luck now and again, we gain some peace and perhaps some occasional bliss.