Eat, Pray, Love – Indonesia

First, I want to thank Maria at BOREDMommy for leading this group of women reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. I had read the book previously but jumped on the band wagon – although I fell off along the ride – to re-read the book before I head to the theatre to see the movie.

Second, I had not re-read the Indonesia part before reading several people saying they thought it was boring or that they did not like the book at all.  Because of this, I think I re-read with a different outlook.  I wanted to see if I could figure out what would turn people off about this section of the book.  I have my theory but first my thoughts on Indonesia.

I think the whole section circles around some words on happiness that are on page 260 of the book.  If this theme is not in the movie while Gilbert, played by Julia Roberts in case you live under a rock as I can’t imagine that no one knows this, is in Indonesia, I will be sorely disappointed.

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 manifestation 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.  It’s easy enough to pray when you’re in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments.

Not only does this discussion of happiness explain why Gilbert was in Indonesia, it ties in the time spent in India when it discusses praying.  I could have put the book down at this point and been thoroughly thrilled with it.  I didn’t but I could have.

Now, on to why I think this part of the book is hard to take.  I do not think it is boring.  I think it hits to close to home.  The section on Indonesia talks about balance, about how the Balinese people have it, about how they keep it.  Balance should be a four letter word, a dirty one at that, in other societies.  Women, in particular, are always striving for balance and we never seem to achieve it.  I think we are looking for something that does not truly exist.  How the Balinese find it and keep will not work in the US or other industrialized societies as we live differently.  We can adjust how we view life but that will not adjust where we live.

To close, I will say that I loved this book.  I could relate to so many portions of it.  I am now ready to see the movie…soon!

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One thought on “Eat, Pray, Love – Indonesia

  1. Nicki – I read the book years ago but didn’t reread it in conjunction with the movie release. I saw the movie (by myself on a Tuesday – what joy!) and really enjoyed it. I will forewarn you, though, that I don’t think this particular philosophy of Gilbert’s (which I agree is magnificently insightful) really comes through in the India section. Rather – at least as I viewed it – she seems more to stumble upon her happiness, rather than proactively cultivating it. A sort of bastardized version of her happiness in the book.

    I don’t mean to get you down, the film is still highly enjoyable and worth seeing. But in places it does lack some of the “meat” that the book contained.

    Thanks for reminding me of this great passage. I’m inspired to pick my copy back up and skim it for more kernels of insight!

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