Much unlike the author, in fact, I’d say opposite in our background, I read her journey of self discovery with skeptical curiosity. I was weeping from lonliness, praying for love when I arrived in france. The author had ran away from marriage, love of a man, not her husband when she arrived in Italy. She had friends who would come rescue her from near suicide, a strong older sister and parents she still spoke to. I had a mother whose psychotic outburst I fear, a father I had never had a conversation (I count being able to string 10 phrases between 2 person a conversation) except the day I decided to be a christian, a brother I’ve not spoken to in years (literaly no words passed and I count um a word), a younger sister who had looked upon me as the heroine in her life when I can barely keep my head above waters on most days. And to add cherry to the cake of poison, we all live in the same house. Now you can see why I said “unlike”, in fact, that is a gross understatement.
Yet as Liz (the author) recounts her journey of self discovery or healing, I find myself nodding with recognition. All things considered, we suffer for different reasons but suffering has the same manisfestation. In despair one night in her bathroom crying, she found a voice that carried her to another day. Whether it’s the bathroom or in bed, that’s just geography. Despair knows no boundaries. The author decided to journey to three places to explore three nouns, Italy for pleasure, India for devotion and Indonesia for balance.
Her quest for pleasure involved eating and learning a new language. I went through that. With everything that is different, everything became a distraction to reality like living in a movie. And we know that everything that happens in a movie will end.
In India, the author explored God. The concept of a familiar God in an unfamiliar setting with a different path in spirituality. Here, I cannot but agree with her or what she may be saying. God and religion can be so different. I’ve been brought up with eastern beliefs and converted to Christianity. Yet the words of the author are all so familiar even though our experiences are opposites. There is no gentler way to say this without offending millions of church going devotees but my experience with God is exactly that, an experience. No amount of church going or religious activities can buy me the experience unless I embark on that journey on my own. And church can be as much a distraction as the material world we claim it to be.
In Indonesia, the author attempts to find balance between the pleasures of the world and the devotion to spirituality. When we can’t all be monks and don’t want to be consumed by the way, balance becomes essential.
In my skepticism, I would say it is pretentious, self centered and compare her to millions of people living in poverty. Yet we can say that of almost anyone can’t we? If we start comparing, we could easily find someone worse off or has more “real” troubles. Like I said, the author could be worse off, like me. Yet to say that is to deny that we are human beings. Like saying to someone with mental illness that it is not a “real” illness like cancer. I’m not saying that author has mental illness but this I’d say. Read the book with an open heart to one woman’s journey to find the path to happiness. It is not something of fiction, we can all find it, maybe not in the same way and the same ending. A journey is just that, a journey. And maybe I’m also telling me this.