Me and Liz Gilbert wouldn’t be friends, I don’t think. She, or at least the version of her at the onset of her voyage of self discovery, is not my proverbial “cup of tea,” though I have to admit she grows on me. During the first portion of the first half of Eat, Love, Pray, I spent a good deal of time yelling at my book “GET OVER YOURSELF,” but I suppose that’s partially a testament to the difference in the mindsets of a 20 year old male and a 34 year old female divorcee. I just feel like the first 50 pages are full of bias statements, in which Gilbert claims she realizes her actions are flawed as much as her husbands were, but then spends a frustrating amount of time justifying away any mistakes she claims to know she’s made. This really annoyed me, to be honest. I felt like I spent 2 hours reading one long disclaimer. And if I heard the words “My David Drama” one more time, I would have thrown the book. The david drama refers to liz’ failed relationship with her post divorce boyfriend, but the way she tags it onto her myriad lists of things wrong with her life you’d think it referred to her entire family dying in a natural disaster. I don’t mean to rant but I really had some of that off my chest.
Luckily, though, Liz’ trip and her discoveries over the course of it does our relationship well, and by the end of the Italy segment I think we could start to get along. Liz’ pursuit of language and cuisine in Italy, culminating in an epiphany-esque moment in Sicily made the point of her pursuit of pleasure, and the purpose such pursuits have in life clear to her, and in turn to me (and made me feel stupid for getting so angry in the beginning of the novel). The main point that Liz discovers is that—to an extent, the world kind of sucks. It is absurd and unfair and filled with inevitable failure and corrupt leadership and terrible tragedies, and in a lot of these cases there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. The only thing we can do is to embrace the simple pleasures our life provides us with, to pursue them without guilt, and to not take them for granted once we get them. We can’t stop terrorism, and we can’t end corruption in politics, but we can take pleasure in the things in life we enjoy, and take pride in our individual simple accomplishments (she gives the example of a Sicilian being able to cope with the destroyed nature of his homeland by taking pleasure and pride in being able to filet a fish perfectly).
Realizing this point that Gilbert was trying to make in her Italy portion, made me forgive her a lot for the frustrating beginning of the memoir. In a way it made her ranting about her divorce and her depression and even her “David Drama” seem like a literary device that was needed to make her epiphany later all the more poignant. That point of the book is needed to show that we all have things in our live that, while maybe not seeming like much to other people, can make the world seem unfair and cruel to us, to make us feel like life is impossible. This makes the lesson about simple pleasures Liz learns during her time in Italy seem like a feesible solution we to the problem that she presents in the beginning of the book. Gilbert is posing a feesible solution to a problem that just about all of humanity is faced with. I’ve complained enough about running injuries and school stresses enough to make an outsider tell me to get some perspective (or to ‘get over myself’) if I wrote them all down and had them published. And after finishing the Italy part of the book, Liz’ suggestion sounds like something that can actually help me with that stuff. So in conclusion, and in summary, maybe I was a little bit too harsh on Liz Gilbert.