Tuesday, April 7, 2009

An Insightful Conversation Close to Home

In class Monday we determined that our ideas of "homeland" vary, but for many of us it included our family. For me, my homeland has become rooted in a place, a landscape that is familiar and comforting to me. I have lived in Baltimore now for almost four years. I have traveled around the world, living in New Zealand for six months. Wherever I go, I think of my "homeland" as that particular landscape, that place that will always be my "home" for me in a somewhat nostalgic sense. I was particularly struck by the students in our class, who have traveled throughout their life--never really settling in one location. For these students, "home" became manifested in their bodies. They have carried their homes with them, making new homes wherever they went. Being so completely rooted in my sense of home to the land, this concept of home completely fascinated me and seems to represent Elizabeth Gilbert's replica of "home" in Eat, Pray, Love.

Through a spiritual epiphany, Gilbert transforms her life and her concept of "home." As the physical and social constructs of her homeland collaps, like "'having a really bad car accident every single day for about two years'" (21). Gilbert is forced to create a homeland in herself, recreate her identity. She finds herself suddenly overwhelmed with the immense possibilities that lie in her newly found independence. In her search for her identity and quest for a "balance" in life, Gilbert is able to experience the world in a way that few travelers can. She has no financial obligations, no obligations to any other individuals, and no attachment to the physical world (as she has lost her house and concrete possessions in the divorce). She is able to explore the world on her own time and by her own terms, presenting the chance for contemplation.

I love the oral quality of Gilbert's writing. Her novel reads like a informal conversation. She writes in a way that makes you feel as if you are a close friend, able to listen to her most private fears and desires. I found her use of parenthesis, to enclose her inner thoughts, highly entertaining and humerus. The reflective nature of her writing is beautifully insightful. For example, Gilbert writes, "In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding that they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place" (19). Gilbert's opinion of what she calls "desperate love" is extremely true and therapeutic. I feel like I know so many people, whose relationships have failed, because they have tried to conform their partner into an ideal--a "character" of that person that they have created. This type of love is truly desperate, to attempt to manipulate one's love--to uphold such ideals that are in fact, unrealistic for the person they are applied to. I think that Gilbert's writing is so popular, because it speaks "home" to so many individuals.

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