I’m a latecomer to the Eat, Pray, Love party. I bought the book five or six years ago, but didn’t connect with it at the time, so it sat on my shelf (or, more recently, in a box in a storage facility), unread. This is not unusual for me; I’ve often bought books and not read them until later—sometime years later. I’ve come to believe that I read books when it’s the right time for me to read them, and this was certainly the case with Eat, Pray, Love.
Anyway, I began following Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook a few months ago, while I was in my limbo period at my mom’s, waiting for the house in NC to become available. I think someone re-posted a quote/status update of hers that I liked one day, and when I realized she had a page, I thought, “Why not?”
As I read more of her posts, I decided that I rather liked Liz, and suddenly I very much wanted to read her book, so I resolved to do so when I finally got to the new house. Once I’d unearthed it from the mountain of book boxes, I read a bit at a time, which allowed me to mull over things that Liz or ‘Richard from Texas’ or some other person in the book said that struck me. Several times, I found myself wanting to post whole passages from the book here on pathwriter, but kept thinking, maybe later.
Then I read Chapter 69. The tears welled, and a lump rose in my throat, and I knew this was the passage I had to post.
Doing as others told me, I was Blind.
Coming when others called me, I was Lost.
then I left everyone, myself as well.
then I found Everyone, Myself as well.
I had a great idea for a new book, although come to think of it, maybe it is just a Facebook post. But it would be called Pre First Draft, and address the way we suit up and show up to be writers, artists, and general tribal-two-stomp creative types.
I think it would begin with an admonition: if you used to love writing, painting, dancing, singing, whatever, but you stopped doing it when you had kids or began a strenuous career, then you have to ask yourself if you are okay about not doing it anymore.
If you always dreamed of writing a novel or a memoir, and you used to love to write, and were pretty good at it, will it break your heart if it turns out you never got around to it? If you wake up one day at eighty, will you feel nonchalant that something always took precedence over a daily commitment to discovering your creative spirit?
If not—if this very thought fills you with regret—then what are you waiting for?
Back in the days when I had writing students, they used to spend half their time explaining to me why it was too hard to get around to writing every day, but how once this or that happens—they retired, or their last kid moved out—they could get to work.
I use to say very nicely, “That’s very nice; but it’s a total crock. Continue reading
Almost anything you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.
~Mohandas K. Gandhi
To be ourselves causes us to be exiled by many others, and yet to comply with what others want causes us to be exiled from ourselves.
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
It is very important that you only do what you love to do. You may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live. And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do. Otherwise, you will live your life as a prostitute, you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived. And you will not have a pleasant death.
Keep me from me!
I do not want to hear
the cries of my heart,
the wails of despair,
the longing for communion,
the echoes of loneliness.
stand me away
from this self,
who knows not
that for which she searches
but is compelled
to continue the quest.
I am at ease.
I am content.
pathwriter’s note: I found this and several other poems I’d written in a notebook a while back. I don’t remember what it was that prompted the writing of it all those years ago, but it expresses so well the part of me in the present that has, at times, wanted to ditch the as-yet-unidentified “calling” I’ve felt these last few years, to turn away from that which has drawn me repeatedly into unknown territories, both internal and external. However, I know (as I evidently knew then, too) that if I turn my back on the part of me that is the seeker, I will be turning my back on the deepest, truest part of me, and if I do this, it is my soul that will die.
When you spend your life doing what you love to do, you are nourishing your Soul. It matters not what you do, only that you love whatever you happen to do. Some of the happiest people I’ve known have been nannies, gardeners, and housekeepers. They put their hearts into their work, and they used the work itself as a vehicle to nourish their Souls. I’ve known other people with more prestigious professions who absolutely hated their jobs. What good is it to be a doctor or a professional if you do not genuinely love what you do? Working in a job you do not love does nothing to nourish your Soul.
~Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, “Soul Gifts in Disguise” in Handbook for the Soul
I’ve always believed in the idea that each of us has a particular place in the universe where we belong, and that if we find it, everything will fall into place and we will flourish.
There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.
Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you,
as fish out of water hear the waves,
or a hunting falcon hears the drum’s “Come back. Come back.”
This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.
Children fill their shirts with rocks and carry them around.
We are not children anymore.
Read the book of your life, which has been given you.
A voice comes to your soul saying,
Lift your foot. Cross over.
Move into the emptiness of question and answer and question.
If you knew your art would support your life, how would you live?