Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Eat Pray Love

My first official summer read this year was Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This memoir takes place after Gilbert realizes she no longer wants to be married at age 31. Following a bitter divorce, she puts her furniture in storage and arranges to spend a year travelling. Or actually, a year spending four months at a time in three distinctly different locales: Italy, India, and Bali.

Gilbert is a novelist, and this memoir often reads like fiction. I was drawn in immediately to her tale, and, in the end, I couldn't help wonder what happened after the close of the book. I'm also now interested in reading some of her other work. After all, I need a few more titles to add to my ever-growing bedside stack.

One quote from the section relating Gilbert's experiences in India particularly struck me. Gilbert's guru there expressed the idea that,

Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don't you will leak away your innate contentment.

I love the idea that happiness is not something that we luck into but rather that it is something for which we can strive. I've always been someone who tends to look on the bright side of a situation. Generally, I'm happy. That's not to say that I don't have those moments of frustration or anger, but I'm a happy person.

I've got a few things going on here in Suburbia that have made me think about what makes me happy. There may be some changes coming soon at work (and then, again, there may not be), which has me thinking about my career goals and what type of position would ultimately bring me the most satisfaction. I also got news today that I need to go in for a breast ultrasound after my recent mammogram. I should have more details tomorrow, but I can't keep from being nervous, imagining the worst. With those things going on, I'm glad to have this passage to remind me that being happy is something that I can choose, no matter what the circumstances.


Christina said...

Could not have said it better myself! From the time I can remember I have always believed that WE make our own happiness. Probably has something to do with why I have rejected religion ;-) Just cannot take that whole "it was meant to be" stuff and the notion that there is some outer force that determines my road in life. No way. I am happy because I want to be and I've made it so. At least - I think that's what happened! Having just been through the abnormal mammogram reading and atypical cell scare, I do understand why you are thinking this way. Hugs to you.

Alto2 said...

I was leary about this book until I picked it up. It was a revelation and a great book club choice. Contemplating happiness is a positive thing.