Monday, August 30, 2010

"Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be."

Hi, my name is Jullin and I...

read an Oprah book and liked it.
I’m sorry! I know. I’ve always tried to claim I had taste. Hell, our book club is basically called the ‘non-lame, no Oprah’ book club. I was weak, it’s been a bad couple of months. My friend talked me into it---there are so many excuses I could cover but I guess I’ll just own up to it.

Now, especially with the movie that recently came out, Eat, Pray, Love is definitely receiving it’s share of backlash. I think along with the reviews I could name at least three different articles ready to put Elizabeth Gilbert on the proverbial cross. I’d love to jump on the bandwagon and claim that I hated it, down with Oprah and all her little followers right?

But the thing is... I kinda enjoyed it. Now, I’m not saying that it was the be all, end all in my life. It didn’t save me. I’m not hopping on a jet plane to Italy and truthfully after reading those articles I can admit that the backlash has a point--and not just to be the anti-Oprah. I could definitely see someone connecting a dot somewhere along the lines that you need to have an expense account or a book deal in order to find happiness. I can see why people will say that she’s a coward for up and leaving her life and not really fixing her problems. Honestly? Sure, maybe they’re right. And sure, the ending in the book is a -little- too neat and wrapped up in a pretty pink bow for my taste but at the end of the day I never thought that was Gilbert’s message. I don’t think she was ever saying, go, leave your life behind and come to Italy to hang out for a few months.

Sure, yes. This is one person’s path but the ideas behind it and the “lessons” learned aren’t necessarily ones that need a passport or a year off. This is simply how one person managed to get through a rather difficult but not all entirely rare event that happens to people: a break up.

The thing is, and I’m sure all those critics would admit this: people handle things in different ways. One person’s solution isn’t going to be another person’s. My break up ritual may involve copious amounts of ice cream and rock music that leans towards the bitter side of things. Another person’s might involve a string of one night stands or burning pictures. Whatever the case, Gilbert just has the luxury to see the world.

I never saw this book to be a manual or a how-to to finding oneself. If you can’t take the lessons she learned and apply them in a down to earth manner, or if you’re too much of a sheep to be able to make this your own then yeah, maybe I’m wrong about the human population and maybe Gilbert should go up on the cross. However, I never saw this as her way of advising or even preaching on how to find yourself in life. This was simply a woman, telling her story and hoping someone else could find some sort of spark, or kindred thought, a reflection of something similar whether it was a thought, a wish, a hope or a fear. Someone who’s been through pain, through loss, through grief and someone who could relate to you in some small way.

I mean, the idea of being able to be with yourself, of loving yourself before being able to be in a healthy relationship isn’t exactly new. We’re not going to give Gilbert that much credit. And yes, I’m sure a lot of the things within the book were embellished and while that thought did manage to make the ideal loose a bit of it’s shine, the end message didn’t waver too much.

However, over all I wasn’t looking to fix my life with this book. I was just looking for someone who could relate--something that can oddly be challenging in this modern world. Because, no matter how someone may say they relate or can nod or give you a sympathetic look, it sometimes takes someone with a way of words, an author, a writer to sum up those feelings so well. At the end of the day, Gilbert doesn’t seem to want to come across as anything different, even if she gets a little overbearing and typical WASP-y using someone else’s problems to make themselves look good. She was and still is a writer, someone who can convey and put into words those thoughts, ideals, emotions that we can only nod along and say “yes, exactly. That’s how it feels.”

And sometimes, that’s all you need. Someone who can put what you’re feeling, what’s jumbled up in your head onto paper and be like, don’t worry. You’re not alone. It’s okay to feel this. Maybe it took Gilbert a global journey to find this voice and while not all of us are blessed enough to do as such I think most of us can spend the $15.95 or whatever it costs to take a small piece of human thought, human emotion and work it into our own lives.

To sum it all up, I read an Oprah book and survived.

But don’t worry...

It won’t happen again.

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