I saw Eat Pray Love yesterday with a friend in a plan we made long ago after both reading the book. She loved the travel sections of the book, and I loved some of the more poignant truths that Elizabeth Gilbert realized in her quest to know herself and to find God, and we both love Julia Roberts, so going to the movie together was a no-brainer. When you enjoy a book (and the book Eat, Pray, Love inspired me to write my own memoir), often the movie is disappointing, but thankfully in this case that rule didn't prove true.
My criticism with the book was that it was too long and rambly in sections. I would've found it more moving if half of it was edited out, but there were definitely moments that stirred my soul with the recognition of truth and beauty. The movie was able to cut out the parts that weren't central to the story, while creating a gorgeous backdrop of the three locales she visited: Italy, India, and Indonesia. Julia Roberts made a perfect Elizabeth Gilbert, struggling through a painful divorce and learning how to enjoy her own company for the first time in her life, while on a life-changing journey to find God.
The most inspiring scene in the movie for me came during the "eat" section of the film in Italy. Gilbert was at a particularly low point personally when she went with some new friends to a tomb deep below the city. She sat and looked around with tears in her eyes, and in her voice-over she talked about ruin, and what it can bring to you if you are willing to walk through it. She said, "Ruin is a gift. Ruin leads you on the path to transformation."
Sometimes you have to get to the basement in your life, feel the worst and most painful emotions possible, in order to rebuild yourself into who you are meant to be. I've experienced this over and over again. I always wish I could circumvent the process of conflict and hurt, but walking through it is the only way home, back to myself and a character that is built on something solid and lasting.
Her journey to know herself, forgive herself and love herself without reservations was inspiring to watch. I recognized myself in this book and movie. For years I've been on a path to understanding who I really am, accepting that, and settling into my personality like you would into your house. Forgiveness is a huge part of this process, as is being honest with yourself and dismantling your many masks and disguises. Slowly shedding the way I used to hide in the world has been the most freeing and satisfying thing I've ever done.
Ruin is a gift, and when the hard times come, I'm going to hold that fact up, like a candle in the darkness, and remember that transformation will eventually come. I must bravely walk through it, and be gentle with myself, and remember to extend the grace to others that I need for myself. Inspiration in any form is a beautiful thing, and I'm grateful for the chance to be moved and changed by Eat Pray Love in both of its forms.