Sunday, August 15, 2010
From second grade until about age 30 or 32 I was never without a book. I went from a weekly bike ride to the library; to folding back the cover of a romance novel in an attempt to hide the couple in a steamy embrace; to freaking myself out at night reading about paranormal activity, crop circles, reincarnation and the likes; to proudly displaying the latest New York Times Best Seller on the train with the rest of the lemmings.
Then suddenly I could no longer read. Okay it wasn't that dramatic, it's not like I was hit on the head and forgot how to read, but I lost the ability to concentrate and be present enough to allow a book to take me away.
Six months into my 38th year of this life, I had my first panic attack. I didn't know that's what it was until months later. Symptom after symptom starting piling up on me until there were days I could no longer move my arms or neck. The doctors told me I was suffering from an auto-immune condition that they felt was most likely Lupus. And so began my much deeper journey and exploration into the world of spirit, alternative medicine, yoga, meditation and Eat, Pray, Love.
A woman at work gave me the book after she saw author Elizabeth Gilbert on Oprah. I politely thanked her for it, but I still couldn't read. I could read articles on health and frantically searched the Internet for cures, but sitting down and reading a book about some woman's journey through beautiful places didn't seem to make sense to me at the time.
I really don't remember why I finally started the book, it was probably one of the many nights like Liz where I got down on my knees, crying, desperately asking God to help me. All I know is like so many women, I really responded to every page. It took me almost 5 months to read it! I was loving it, but the only way I could manage to read was if I did it in stages.
I think a lot of what makes the book so powerful is Liz Gilbert's bravery in admitting she had everything and was still deeply at her core unhappy. I think deep down or perhaps not so deep down, we all believe that unless you are in poverty with 10 children and an abusive husband, we have no real right to complain. What also strikes a deep chord, is seeing someone experience life with openness and positive anticipation of each day. Living and experiencing each moment and seeing more and more good come from each encounter, every meal, enlightenment with every thought -dolce far niente: How sweet it is to do nothing. This is finding God. After all, freedom is at the core of our happiness.
I've been on unemployment for over a year now and I have tried to truly enjoy this time in my life; unfortunately, I haven't been able to "live in the moment" as well as Liz. I'm constantly having to work through the financial panic and the guilt of not having a job. Where as Liz gifted herself with this time and in turn the Universe really worked it out for her to live a universally appealing adventure of travel to visually stunning places; meeting sexy, smart, warm people;having time to think and restore. Savoring every taste and morsel of delicious, healthy, perfectly prepared food of generous portions! On top of all this, she also finds the love of her life. The whole story can either make you really jealous and depressed or it can give you hope that life can be that good.
The Movie - well, I worried about the choice of Ryan Murphy for director. I've yet to see Glee, I understand it's wonderful, but it's basically for teens. On the other hand, Nip/Tuck was one of the most inventive, wild and often heartfelt shows ever to have graced cable television, but it wasn't exactly a spiritual journey. Don't worry, he doesn't do anything off beat with Eat Pray Love, it follows the feeling of the book almost to exactness. There are some added scenes and some deleted scenes, some characters become composites, but that's accepted and expected when going from novel to screenplay.
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I also wasn't sure about Julia Roberts as the lead. I LOVE Julia Roberts, but she's so fabulous with that huge smile, infectious laugh and star quality abounding all over her aura. I felt this might be too much for Liz. But I had nothing to worry about. There were so many times that Roberts' expressions were exactly how I pictured Liz Gilbert's countenance in my head.
Javier Bardem is a younger sexier version of Felipe, but who's gonna complain about that!
Talk about Food in Film! This movie is a perfect example. Ingredients and dishes are magnified and photographed in lush detail. Julia Roberts was on Regis & Kelly talking about how many pizza's and how much spaghetti she actually consumed with each take. She seemed to share Liz's mind-set of just go with it and enjoy. This film definitely rates 4 Tines!
Read NY Times Behind the Scenes interview with Food Stylist Susan Spungen - Eat, Pray, Spritz
As for me, I'm still in the process of finding the pure joy and light that this story projects. However, I am physically healthy, that is a miracle I thank God for everyday! The rest I believe is on the way.
Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine): Philly Film, Food & Events Blog