I received a handful of gift cards for my 21st birthday, including one to Barnes and Nobles (my one true weakness). So of course, I rushed out to the store to gift myself with yet more books to throw onto my "to be read pile". I came home clutching Juliet Marillier's Flame of Sevenwaters (the last in her Sevenwaters saga) and Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic, which I had been dying to get my hands on for the last several months.
There's a painful irony there, however, considering that in my recent blog post, Depression Riding Shotgun, I called out Gilbert's best-selling book Eat Pray Love as "a fucking myth".
I want to elaborate on that for a moment.
I've never read Eat Pray Love. I've never seen the film adaptation. I know nothing about it, other than that it is meant to be a memoir of Gilbert's own experiences while travelling.
So you have to understand, I don't hate Eat Pray Love. I'll probably read it at some point myself. I hate what it's come to represent in our culture today.
You see, there's this misconception with Eat Pray Love-esque books and films which leads people to believe that travelling the world will save you. But travelling the world didn't save me. In fact, it very nearly killed me.
Read: I very nearly killed myself.
So I don't resent Eat Pray Love, and I don't resent Elizabeth Gilbert for having been able to travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia and undergone an incredible personal transformation. But I want to eradicate this notion that places have the power to save us.
We have the power to save us.
I'm halfway through Big Magic, and from my admittedly very small knowledge of Elizabeth Gilbert, I can tell you that she found herself abroad not because she went abroad. Elizabeth Gilbert found herself because she was practicing, what she calls in Big Magic, "creative living", or "an amplified existence".
In other words, it's not about where you live. It's about how you're living.
And when you're living with depression, you're barely living at all.
So to sum up, Eat Pray Love is not "a fucking myth"; Eat Pray Love is the experience of one woman living abroad - and probably the experiences of a lot of people living abroad. But what Eat Pray Love is not, is repeatable.
You are not Elizabeth Gilbert.
You are you.
And while we should all be striving to live creatively, curiously, and happily, that's going to happen differently for every single one of us.
So don't be in a rush to book a flight to Italy to "find yourself" or " find your one true purpose".
Go to Italy because you want to. Go to Italy because it will make you happy.
(But don't go to Rome. Trust me. You'll be glad you skipped it.)
Have you read Eat Pray Love or Big Magic? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments below! I plan on finishing Big Magic soon and reporting back on my thoughts - because what else is a blog for if it isn't used to vomit my opinions onto the Internet?