Eat, Pray, Love and Me

It’s been hot, so hot here, as those of you who follow me on twitter know. This past weekend it got up to 110 degrees. I thought it was supposed to be fall. No fall for us!

When it gets this hot life is unbearable for me. We don’t run the air much and my fan just blows around hot air. My clothes stick to me and forget the computer. It sends off its own heat! So I decided to take off and go the theater.

Another problem is that I can’t handle anything too heavy, my brain is taxed from the heat. I decided to see Eat Pray Love, a movie I thought I wouldn’t see because I never had any interest in the memoir and everyone said they hated it. You know what? I didn’t. I actually quite liked it.

I know the arguments against this story. It’s a story for the privileged. Not many people can dump their life and go off and see the world for a year. Gilbert was so self-indulgent, just leaving her husband and then her lover. Etc.

And while all those things may be true, the story, the underlying story is universal. Sure maybe we can’t all go to different places in the world seeking healing, but we’ve all had times in our life when we wondered what the hell we were doing with it all. Surely, we’ve all had days where we wake up and think, is this really my life? Is this all there is?

Or maybe it’s just me. And as someone who did actually take off for another country partially to seek healing, space, and “find myself” and met many others in the same boat while there, I sort of got it.

If God dropped a pile of money in my lap today and I could take a year and go to three countries would I come to all of the same conclusions as Gilbert? Probably not. But the desire to rediscover a reason to live, a new way to look at things, and a new way to understand God seem achingly familiar. And yes, Gilbert was incredibly privileged to take her journey but it doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can do in our lives that resemble this. Like maybe learning new dishes to cook, trying a new religious service, joining a book club, taking up a new hobby.

Admittedly, I’m glad I just saw the movie and didn’t read the book. It was faster and I got to enjoy the scenery. Was Gilbert self-indulgent? Perhaps, having not read the book, I don’t know. But I’m not against self-indulgence entirely, after all, I went and sat in the theater on a hot day. Sometimes I think we allow society to set expectations for us. There are massive lists of “shoulds” in our heads, and that’s fine and good but we will undoubtedly start resenting them at some point.

So bottom line? I liked it. I could identify.

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The Space to Be Wrong

In a recent piece I read online, Alan Jacobs suggested that hostility online is due to an “atrophied sense of humility and charity” in our culture.

When I read that something really rang true about it for me. I am primarily a book blogger and while we have certain dust-ups in our community, I do think of it as a more gentle community compared to some others I’ve encountered. The funny thing about it is that even when you read ignorant, vile, and hateful comments online (as a fellow tweeter pointed out yesterday, usually on news sites) and know that you can’t really take it seriously, the words carry such weight and power and the fact that someone felt free to share without regarding the full humanity of the person on the other end of the screen is deeply bothersome.

There are many troublesome things about it, the way we objectify each other, and shove each other into corners and boxes, but also the barrier it creates to allow people the space to be wrong. Look, I’m wrong all the time. A while back I shared this quote that actually says there’s a joy in being wrong. And you know what? There is, painful though it might be at first. I think of that often when someone brings up a point that I hadn’t considered before and find myself wrong again. I think, after the painful trial of the aftermath of BBAW last year, I got a lot more comfortable with being wrong on the internet, owning it, and going on to do my thing.

I’ve given this a lot of thought lately, because if I want to inspire people I need to choose my words carefully. I’m not always good at this. Sometimes it seems easier to be snarky or to just not say anything at all. But something I’ve appreciated the most is when people have given me the space and friendship to talk out issues and to tell me unreservedly what they think but in a way that I know they care. I hope to be able to offer that to others as well, it’s maybe not my primary goal but an overall part of the person I wish to be.

I’m not trying to say anything about anger. In fact, the issue of anger is still a tricky one for me, particularly as it relates to internet discourse.

I just think we do in fact need more humility and charity on the internet, more grace and forgiveness, more space to be wrong.

August Was a Good Month

Now that September is already one fourth of the way over (how does this happen?????) I was reflecting back on how good August was for me and how it kind of changed my life (not to be too dramatic)

It started with Hutchmoot, included a visit from my sister and nieces, and wrapped up with the life transformative experience of reading Mockingjay.

All of these things were on the surface quite good and enjoyable, but on a deeper level made me examine my choices, the way I’m living my life, and start to make some hard choices about what to do differently. And they brought comfort to the deepest parts of my heart and soul, something I didn’t even realize I needed so badly.

Sometimes when you are moved deeply in the core of your being you don’t know if it will stick. I, for one, wondered if I could hold onto that glowy wonderful feeling of Hutchmoot forever, if the developing apathy to what used to matter was something I could sustain. For the most part, I’m glad to say making definitive choices immediately has really helped.

And Mockingjay lit a fire in me learn and write like nothing has in a very very long time. The best stories do this for me.

I’m just glad to have had such a lovely month in such lean times and to press into the unexpected gifts that nurture my creative spirit.

Was August good for you?