I hate to admit that a defining moment in my life was a movie. A movie that was adapted from a book that I still haven’t read. I’m still inspired by it to this day, and even more so by the author who wrote the book.
I knew when I watched it that the movie was based on a book, and I also knew that I was missing important details by not reading the book. That being said, what I took away has nothing to do with the detail changes between the two. I watched Eat, Pray, Love and knew in that moment that I would leave my husband and create a different life for myself.
My reasons for leaving were different (not better, not worse, different). And I will probably never be the woman who travels to a different continent to learn who I am. I’m okay with that. But the movie version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s told me that I could control my own attempt at happiness. I could have a different life. I could follow my heart. I didn’t have to continue doing what the world expected of me.
Within weeks, I was separated from my ex-husband. The decision was the right one for me and, ultimately, my children. There were times I wondered if I had made the right decision, if it made more sense to be in a relationship that wasn’t satisfying but that was easier because the struggle of our life was familiar. The struggles of this new life I was building were unfamiliar, foreign, and terrifying. I doubted myself at every turn. I worried that because I’d made a poor decision in choosing that man to be my husband and the father of my children that maybe I was incapable of making good decisions.
I wish, looking back, that I had sought out more about Elizabeth Gilbert. Had I done so, I would have seen this:
I believe everything happens for a reason. Had I watched this two years ago, I would have been in awe of this woman, because, hello, how could I not? But I don’t think I would have understood what she was trying to say.
I blogged through the divorce, finding escape in the power of writing and creating. I’ve always lived by the adage, “Write what you know.” I’m not good at creating something from nothing. I need at least a kernel of something I recognize to build upon.
In my current writing, there is always, still, an element of me and what I think I know. I don’t think I’ve been touched by the “genius” she refers to, but I think I’ve gotten a glimpse. There have been times when my fingers fly across the keyboard, the story pouring out of my mind at a speed that I don’t recognize, sometimes in a direction I never conceived. Sometimes the words fly into my brain, the start of a perfect sentence, the visualization of a scene that I have no choice but to find a home within my story. I think these moments are what she refers to in the video above. And yet, as she says at the very end, even when I’m not visited by my own genius, I will still show up. Something inside of me compels me…I have no choice otherwise.
I find it telling and purposeful, in some cosmic way that I don’t yet see, that on the precipice of the curviest, bumpiest part of my young life, her personal story (or the dramatized version) of Eat, Pray, Love touched me and inspired me to change my own life and take my destiny into my own hands. And now, when I sense another precipice that I can’t quite understand and don’t know where it may lead, I find her words, her thoughts, and her inspiration again.
Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert, for simply being who you are. One person really can make a difference. We didn’t cure cancer; we didn’t land on Mars. But your life and words that inspired a movie also inspired me. I am so much better off for it now.
And now, damn it, I need to read the book and watch the movie (again!).
For my writing friends who’d like a little inspiration with some real life advice, check out the post Copyblogger wrote about her recently.