As I've mentioned, when I go to the beach I like to park my butt in the sand with a stack of books and read until I need to cool off in the water. I very much enjoy being able to get lost in a book. I have been known to get lost in them since I was a kid.
This is not a trait everyone finds admirable. I can recall my 4th grade teacher making sure the entire class stared me down after silent reading time was over because I failed to hear him say it was time for math. I was that engrossed in my book. Personally, I think he was an asshole of the highest (or lowest, depending upon your perspective) caliber if he felt embarrassing a student for being caught up in a good book was the most effective means of handling that situation. My mother-in-law has also commented on how she just can't believe the way I can shut the world out when I pick up a book. She does not say this in a tone of praise. Oh well, such is life.
Anyway, this last week I only got through one of the books I took. I read Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. I may be among the last people to actually pick up this bestseller. That is partly because I tend to avoid things that become really popular really quickly. Can't be a herd follower, you know. It's also due in part to having a fairly large "to read" pile at all times.
To review the book I'd have to say it was a diverting beach read. If you're on a getaway it's kind of fun to read about someone else getting away from it all. For those of you who haven't read this book, Gilbert chronicles her year of wandering in search of mending a broken heart and finding spirituality. She decides to spend 4 months each in Italy, India, and Indonesia after her divorce. So right there we have a bit of fantasy. Of all the people I've known who got divorced, none of them had the resources to check out of reality for a year and wander the globe.
Italy is for indulging pleasure through food and learning the language simply because it pleases her ear. Rock on. She gained something like 23 pounds in those 4 months. India is for living in an ashram and learning spiritual discipline. She did come away with some interesting insights. Indonesia was for finding balance between pleasure and devotion. While there she happens to meet a fabulous Brazilian man who brings to an end her self-imposed celibacy for the year. Again, some interesting insights about balance. The cultural revelations from Italy and Indonesia were what fascinated me the most. They were somewhat limited regarding India because she was mostly in the ashram rather than out mingling.
While it was a diverting read I came away mildly annoyed by all this spirituality wrapped up in what came across to me as self-indulgence. I tend to think healing a broken heart and being spiritual would be less of a challenge for anyone who can spend a year wandering the globe by herself and who ends up with a talented and selfless Brazilian lover. So then I was forced to ask myself why that chafed me so much (aside from not knowing anyone else who has been able to nurse their wounds that way). Basically, it goes so totally against the grain of the values I was raised with (values I have had tested and refined by my own travels and spiritual searching). Also I recently read Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies and Plan B, which deal very much with her own spiritual search while facing life as a recovered alcoholic and a single mother. Her experience resonated far more deeply with me and her writing appealed to me far more as well.
Ok, so all that said. If I were to go on an entirely indulgent "spiritual seekers" journey to heal a broken heart (because really, loosing my van and the library job crushed me) I think I hear Ireland and Greece calling my name (I'll figure out my third destination on a whim). With any luck I'll find Hugh Jackman waiting for me at the end.
So where would you go and who would you hope to find?