August 16, 2010

The Bathroom Floor, Red Wine, and A Sore Butt

Confession: I never finished Eat, Pray, Love.  When a friend passed the book to me, I was in the middle of trying to figure out the differences among actual, apparent, and implied agency.  In my free time, I was trying to understand what to include in adjusted gross income, when the state could terminate parental rights, what type of constitutional rights a lawful permanent resident holds, and whether or not I actually had to go to my Foundations of Public Policy class.  (The answer to that is a resounding no.)  In short, I was starting my 2L year.  A year brought to you by adrenaline, caffeine, lots of four letter words, and a few bursts of passion.  Oh, I could tell you stories... but at another time.  The truth is: I used all of these reasons as excuses not to finish Eat, Pray, Love.

I watched the movie last night, even though I never finished the book.  (Sorry, Nicole.  I know this breaks your heart!)  I wasn't sure what to expect.  I hadn't found the time to finish the book, so I assumed I would find the movie less than mediocre.  The movie was fine.  I'll leave my review of it at that.  My personal realization about five minutes into the movie was... well, it was one of Oprah's famed "aha!" moments.  I didn't finish the book because it showed me what I really wanted.  (Even now, that's a bit of a scary sentence to write.)

Despite what Elizabeth Gilbert's bio actually says, I subconsciously read it to say: Born and raised in CT, went to prominent Northeast liberal arts school, found solace in her pen, followed the traditional path to traditionally defined "success", managed to build a "Better Homes and Gardens" life despite a fear of commitment to all things "Better Homes and Gardens", breaks down, and then, after serious introspection, discovers True Joy.  Honestly, I think I looked at the book, subconsciously saw myself reflected back in it, quietly said "oh $#!%", and promptly put the book down.  

Well, almost promptly.  I read through enough of the book to know that I didn't give it a chance to make the impact it could made.  I know that my heart should have wept with her on that bathroom floor.  I know that I should have tasted the red wine, the cappuccinos, the sugar coated pastries in Italy.  I know that I should have felt the frustration of a wandering mind when trying to sit without thought.  (That's not a commentary on her writing.  That's saying that I've spent time on that bathroom floor and tasted the freedom of red wine and practiced meditation when I just didn't know what else to do with my life.)  Instead, I read the book at an arms length.  I read about a woman in her thirties who already made a successful career, purchased a house, and said "I do".   I recognized the important message of the book on an intellectual level, but I failed to connect on an emotional level.  By putting the book down, I declared it had nothing to do with my life.

Watching the movie I realized that when I started reading the book during my 2L year, it pointed me straight towards "breaks down, and then, after serious introspection, discovers True Joy."  So of course I declared that it had nothing to do with my life and promptly put it down.  I could rationalize that I was only in my twenties, had yet to build a "real life", had very few commitments, and  never had any intentions of saying "I do"; therefore, Elizabeth Gilbert's life had nothing to do with mine.  I was too busy building my life to concern myself with her journey.  I realize now that I didn't want to face what I already knew: I was headed straight towards breakdown.   I saw it coming.  I couldn't stop it.  I'm glad it happened. 

I would like to think that last year did not constitute an actual breakdown.  In fact, I know that it did not.  But a few things in my life shattered, and I intentionally took apart a few more.  I had to take the time to find the cracks in my foundation, make repairs, change the blueprints, and start thinking about what type of life I really wanted to build.  I can recognize that I am still in the middle of this right now.  Already, from the middle (or perhaps still the beginning?), I feel closer to true joy/something more/my best life. 

I still have a lot of what I worked towards the past few years.  I still have some of the same goals - but they're clearer and more streamlined now.  They have released excess baggage and walk around with a lightness in their step.  They have a better sense of their destination and what they have to pick up along the way.  They allow other goals and dreams to saddle up beside them. 

I don't see Italy, India, or Indonesia in my near future (but someday hopefully!), but I am working on spending more time indulging, reflecting, and playing.  Whether you want to call it my own personal EatPrayLove or QuarterLifeCrisis or JustRememberingWhoIAm, I'm committing to the work involved in finding true joy/something more/my best life.  And I think I'll go out and pick up my own copy of Eat, Pray, Love because, hey, there's some of me in that book!  =)

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