Eat, Pray, Love

Last night, two lovely ladies and myself sat down at the Awesome House to watch the movie Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts. I absolutely adored the book, but had not yet had the chance to see the movie, so I literally bounced up and down when Gayle suggested the idea. Watching the movie brought back so many thoughts and emotions that I’d forgotten since first reading the book. So I went and dug up the diary entry I’d written back in April as an immediate reaction to the book. Reading now over the old familiar words, I am struck by how much they still relate, and possibly even more so, to my current state.

April 2, 2010
WARNING: The following diary entry is very long. 🙂

Shortly after celebrating my 26th anniversary, I decided to pick up ‘Eat Pray Love,’ which I’d been given as a Christmas gift a few months earlier but had yet to crack open – and not surprisingly as this was just one in a tall stack of books I’ve had every intention (and only intention) of reading in the last few years – so honestly, the fact that I took it up a mere 3 months after being given it is pretty remarkable and demonstrative of how eager I was to read the thing.

So here I am reading this New York Times Bestseller… and it’s actually speaking to me. I mean really resonating with me, in the kind of way that makes you re-evaluate every choice you’ve made to come to the method by which you lead your current existence. (phew!) I’m actually discovering things about myself. I’m realizing it may not be entirely out of my hands that I’ve been so unhappy lately. If Liz, the book’s protagonist, can overcome such depression – if practices such as meditation and Yoga truly are built on the foundation of mastering and letting go of one’s suffering – then perhaps I too can, as the Sanskrit mantra goes, honor the divinity that resides within me.

Ideas are starting to form as well. Perhaps I should try changing up my routine. I mean, honestly, I’ve been doing the same basic routine for 3 years now, the 3 years I’ve been working at this company, living the 9-5 (or rather more 8-6) life a corporate minion is supposed to. And I’ve had a headache for the past 3 years. Coincidence? I think not. Perhaps it is time for a change of pace.

Now, I feel I should preface this by saying that I am no stranger to change. In fact, you could say that over the course of my 26 year-journey, I’ve more often been inclined towards change. For example, I’ve dyed my hair just about every typical hair color imaginable – all shades of blonde, red, brunette, black, even orange – I tend to want to run from relationships after a month or two, and every 6 months I’m prone to entirely questioning and refocusing my career goals.

So the idea of changing the pace of my life should be a relatively natural concept. I should be able to wrap my head around this, so why does it seem so foreign to me? Or more interestingly, why haven’t I ever thought to do this before? I do love change, so why is this different?

This early in the journey, I am ill-equipped to answer all these questions buzzing about in my noggin. So I must content myself that my journey will help me strive to answer these along the way. And so I move on, or return as it were, to the ideas that had begun forming themselves in my curious mind. Now ‘Eat Pray Love’ is divided into 108 sections (the number of prayer beads on Indian japa malas) that represent each of Liz’s personal discoveries, but I don’t quite feel like writing that many. So I’ve committed to outlining just 3, which is the purest divisible number of 108.

One: Early to bed & early to rise.

I need to completely change the hours of my daily routine. Living in a lively, social city like San Francisco, I’ve slowly become more of a night-owl, going out on weekends (and often weekdays) until well past midnight, partying and dancing and drinking till I can’t feel anymore – because that’s what everyone does. Then when my alarm goes off at 6:30am for work, I wake up grumpy and groggy, ill-pleased with the concept of getting my day going.

So the idea is to change my conception of a reasonable bedtime, aiming to start my REM cycle by 10pm every night (yes, I realize this makes me seem like a tired old hag). And though I may not actually achieve this, it will at least get me to bed earlier than I do now. Shoot for the moon, and you’ll at least hit the stars.

Then in conjunction with this, I plan to set my alarm for 6am every weekday morning (8am on weekends). I will likewise also likely sleep in a bit past this, but again it will get me up and about earlier than I’ve been doing now. And although I’m not much of a morning person, I do notice that the days I get up earlier, I tend to feel more productive and positive throughout the day. And who knows, perhaps this new routine will eventually help me get over that morning mental block.

So that’s settled. Now on to Two: Meditate daily.

I’ve come to the realization that I talk far too much. Even when no one’s around to hear me, I quite often end up talking to myself… out loud. And I’m always on the go, always busy. Literally every time someone asks me ‘how’ve you been?’ my reply is always ‘oh you know, the usual… busy.’ I need to slow down, I need to push the pause button on my life from time to time… and be ok with it. I need to learn to sit down, relax, and let go.

It’s more than just meditating. That’s the initial idea, or the main method by which I plan to practice this, but what it really boils down to is that I need to learn how to be still and listen. I want to be able to stay still for a while, and just observe, be a witness to everything – my surroundings, the people I interact with, my own thoughts. Only then can I truly understand them, and be at peace. Only then can I learn how to avoid the nagging stress always preying on me. Only then will I find the balance I need to live a healthy, compassionate life amidst the busyness.

And lastly, Three: Identify what I really want (ignoring what I’ve been told I should want).

I began to touch on this in Two, expressing my want to be able to sit still and listen, but this is really a vast enough topic to warrant its own section. I want to figure out what it is I really want, for myself. And then go for it. And so I’ve begun a small list, which I add to every time the moment strikes me, or something I read resonates with me and sparks a new desire. I first reflect on it, to make sure it is truly something I want myself, and not just something that’s generally regarded as good to want. But once determined to be my own, I write it down, and this is what I have so far:

I want:

  • to find spirituality, or recognize the spirituality I already have
  • to feel excited upon waking for the prospect of each day
  • to honor the divinity that resides within me (‘Om Namah Shivaya’)
  • to find the right balance in my life, live harmoniously amid extremes
  • the patience to sit back and let things happen, take them as they come
  • to be able to let someone in without second guessing it
  • to be able to accept my negative thoughts, and let them pass
  • to feel beautiful in my own skin
  • to feel the daily work I do has a real lasting impact on people’s lives, building a better world
  • to better cherish and deepen the few really valuable relationships in my life, quality versus quantity

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