Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir, "Eat, Pray, Love" has clearly touched a chord with millions--it's been on the New York Times best-seller list for the last eight months. Her tale begins with Gilbert sobbing on her bathroom floor, praying for answers to her unhappy marriage. A godlike voice speaks to her, delivering a simple, soothing command: "Go to bed, Liz."
From there we follow this likable, suffering, seeking everywoman on a pilgrimage for internal peace and resolution through three countries. There's the gustatory passions of Italy (eat), four months meditating at an ashram in India (pray), and Bali, where she meets a shaman and a sexy Brazilian man (love).
Recently Gilbert spoke to Beliefnet
from the antiques store she now owns with her husband in New Jersey. As lucid, warm, and funny in person as on paper, she talked about her spiritual
practices, what can mend a miserable heart, and how she feels about possibly being portrayed by Julia Roberts.
'It Already Has a Veil of Nostalgia'
'Julia Roberts Wants to Play Me'
- Is Hollywood interested in your book?
"I’m 38 years old, and like many people of my generation, Julia is the face of our age, we’ve laughed and cried with her. She’s so iconic, it’s a tremendous honor."
'I Married My Own Life First'
- So, did you get the guy?
"I think sometimes you have to not look for it to find it. I had kind of given up on love but hadn't given up on myself."
How has the success of the book changed your life?
The success of it has probably been the biggest surprise. You have to understand that the book came out of the darkest, worst, most horrible, obnoxious time of my life. I mean, the book and my journey begins with me, in my bathroom, four o'clock in the morning, sobbing on the floor one inch away from the bathroom tiles.
And then, suddenly, it turned into something that people are using and wanting and enjoying and at the very least, finding entertaining, it's just impossible to have imagined that something like that could have come out of such a dark place. So it's a surprise and an honor and a joy and a little bit surreal, a little strange.
|'The book came out of the most horrible, obnoxious time in my life.' |
How are you different after "Eat, Pray, Love"?
I still have the same interests. I'm still a writer. I'm still creative. I still have the same sense of humor. I still have the same way of relating to people.
But internally, it's a totally different landscape. And I think the main difference is this relationship that I forged with myself in all those months spent alone, particularly in India, in those long, tedious, difficult, emotionally painful hours in the meditation
chamber sitting—as my friend Richard from Texas said—on my lily white ass and trying to find some sort of center in all that maelstrom of thought and confusion and worry and anxiety and resentment and that whole soup that I was bathed in before I left.
And to watch the evolution over time, over those months and see myself go from somebody who quite literally could not spend five minutes in silence in her own company without crying out of her own skin to somebody who could sit for four or five consecutive hours and be undisturbed by my own existence on earth—it seems like a simple thing but isn't.
In that silence and stillness, I met this other voice that I never had before, which is this older part of me, this calm, sedate, affectionate, forgiving
, wise soul that watches my comings and goings and my spastic fears and desires and anger and all the stuff that pulls on me and intercepts me before I get dragged too far away from myself.
And she just says, very sweetly and with a kind of amusement, do you really want to go through this again? Because if you do, I'll do it with you. But, maybe we don't want to do this again. Maybe we want to actually remember what we learned and do a different thing. That's the central miracle of my entire life, I would say, is meeting that voice. I think that's the highest attainment of my life. And hopefully, that's mine to keep. But, I don't take it for granted. And I know how easy it is to be swept away from that. That's what spiritual practice is for. It's to solidify that channel and to make sure that you get to have it.
Continued on page 2: 'God is the perfection which absorbs...' »