I'm two thirds through eat pray love, which we are told is a 'woman's search for everything'. I, for one, don't have the desire, time, money or patience to search for 'everything' and I am pretty sure that 'everything' does not fit under those three words.
I loved Gilbert's gluttony, passion and learning in Rome. I ate most of that food with her and enjoyed learning, as she did, the Italian way of speaking, eating and living. I warmed to her learning to meander, indulge herself (in some ways) and find grandeur in the simplest things: a new phrase, a divine cappuccino, an olive. She captured it magically and amusingly. She kept it real; she kept it human.
Now, I have just come out of the meditation caves with her in part two of the book. I have this strange sensation that parents must get after sitting through a primary school performance of 'Spring'. Children become chickens, songs rhyme for the sake of it, the piano teacher somehow holds it all together and after all that, the cardboard sunflowers fall backwards and all those mums and dads are in serious need of a drink. As she lands in Bali, this is how I, her reader, am feeling. I understand why she needed to mildly self-mock her tree-kissing behaviour, as a wide-eyed citizen of the world. She knows what her friends in New York and those like myself are thinking.
But there is no need to cherry-pick or choose anything. I am not choosing to tie myself to a thread, hoping that at some point before I die, this knot will pull me out of the world's darkness and "into the next realm." The world has many dark corners (mediation caves in India, for one), but what makes them dark is the light, the beauty and the magic which happen every day. These are, as her life in Italy was, amazingly simple: little girls giggling, an honest answer, the first glimpse of the sun over the ocean, kindness, touch, a warm daydream, the list goes on. It seems a shame to look for god so far and painfully deep inside yourself, when so much of his 'everything' is all around us. I am not saying that taking a good look at yourself is bad. To look inside yourself for something other that what and who you are, is.
So I was trying to think what my second part to her book might be, instead of pray. Last Tuesday I had to run after work. It was dark, nippy and sheets of rain belted London. If I was to look inside myself, I would have seen that I didn't want to go. But I did. I went out donned in my 'waterproof' running gear and ran my five miles. My body and legs were quite enjoying it and, after the first mile, my mind caught up. I started smiling. The joy I got from running those miles, alone on the soaking London streets, not caring that the buses drenched me further, or that the hill was full of puddles, was immense. It was beyond having got something done. It was a joy of the whole process, something which I believe was close to Gilbert's tree-kissing euphoria. I didn't see god all around me. I just saw me, in my life, loving it despite the contradictions and dark corners. My joy was raining down, each droplet lighting the dark road as it passed the street lamps. And I had just run it, as Gilbert had run in her meadow.
It's interesting how two completely different experiences, continents, people, moments can capture something which makes them feel the same. I'm waiting to see how Gilbert moves on in Bali and why she calls that section love.
But I know that to complete this tripod of discovery, I would have had to name it something different that encapsulates a search I do every time I put my trainers on. Runners, you know this.
Eat. RUN. Love.