Friday, November 19, 2010

Come, reza, ama

So I recently read the novel Eat, Pray, Love by Liz Gilbert and fell in love. I related to the outcast, black sheep syndrome and her yearning for travel. And food. And desire for understanding. I read through it like a marathon runner, unable to stop for anything. It felt like reuniting with a long lost friend after about a decade, once more getting to know each other and the details of life that we have missed out on. (I recently did exactly that, too; so glad you are back in my life!)

Yesterday I found the movie for sale at one of the small movie stores. SCORE! I usually don't appreciate movies that are based on books, but this one lives up to the feelings created by the book, for the most part.

Some of my favorite parts are when she is learning. She decided to learn Italian, just because it felt magical, it was good for her soul. There was no practical reason for her to pick up this particular language. I love the idea that it is important to seek out facets in life that are simply for the beauty of it. This is how I feel about dancing salsa: there is no reason for me to be a great salsa dancer. I only want the skill because of the way I feel: I feel graceful and sexy and like I'm sharing a secret of this culture, a secret that not everyone (especially gringitas) can appreciate.

She gives up guilt about eating and food and body image in order to truly embrace the joy of flavor, to reclaim a meal as an event, not a chore. Whether with friends, family, the love of your life, or all alone, to eat something should be like a ceremony. Savor with all your senses, don't just grub and then wash it down. Go ahead, chew your bite 33 times before swallowing. Swish your beverage around your teeth and gums and tongue. Gargle it if you want to, it won't offend me. Give up on the idea that you are supposed to look like anyone else but you.

She spends four months at an ashram, in search of peace, almost unawares that before there is peace, there is a whole lot of garbage. In this place, I have constantly been facing my demons, most of them, anyway, sheesh. It is a perfect spot to see things objectively, to notice the patterns, like rings in a tree. To gently glide away and let go of such heavy stones, to replace tightly gripped hands with open palms and nimble fingers. Not trying to grasp onto anything is such a quiet way to live.

She returned to Bali to study, to reflect, to learn what she could, to find a balance. This is something I keep telling myself: Life is the lesson and the test at the same time. Take every opportunity that you can to understand what you couldn't before. Try to see things differently than how you first look at them, shift the focus, change your position.

So I'm showing this movie to my English class. I hope they will see the humor and the beauty in the story, the way I did. If nothing else, they can appreciate the trials of learning a second language. And if even that is lost on them, at least there are beautiful people, eating beautiful things, in beautiful places. Surely, everyone can dig that.