…..for the umpteenth time. I’ve read the book a number of times, too, over the years. I got a lot out of both. I’m aware that there are those who feel that Elizabeth Gilbert is a privileged woman, so who is she to feel angst or insecure, hurt or depressed? Well, she’s a human being, so she has every right to feel whatever she feels, just like everyone else does.
There are also those who feel that her travels can’t be theirs, whether for financial reasons or other obligations. This is true – her journey isn’t for them to take. They have to take their journey, wherever and however it leads them. No one can walk your path for you, nor can you walk someone else’s path for them. Walk alongside? Sure. We can all use that support, especially on the difficult and most bleakest parts of the path.
But there’s a line or two in the film (which I refer to as the Cliff Notes version of the book, hitting the highlights and keeping the same truth), that resonate with me. Both lines, spoken by men, have to do with love.
This is interesting, because a man broke her heart and it is men who are giving her the message that love is what will heal her.
In India, Richard from Texas speaks first, saying, “Believe in love again.”
How does she do that? How does one believe in love, when one’s heart is hurting, broken, shattered by another? Or grappling with guilt for hurting someone else’s heart? Does she feel that she deserves love, or not?
But in order to know the answer to those questions, before she can believe in love again, she must first love herself, forgive herself, let go and let love. She has to take down those walls she’d built, make peace with her past, and trust that the path she is on will take her where she needs to go as she does her work.
And while in Bali, she truly does find love. What does she do? She runs from it. Why? Because she was being asked to relinquish the control she’d established for herself, to be vulnerable to this man who was risking his vulnerability for her. His openness frightened her, because she wasn’t ready to be that open with him. In her fear, she strikes out at him and wounds him. And she runs away, with his insight echoing in her ears – she is afraid.
Thus, the second man speaking to her about love.
“Sometimes, to lose balance for love is part of living balanced life,” says Ketut Layer, the little wise medicine man in Bali. And she recognizes this truth to her core, and she races to correct her mistake in turning away love.
Love means handing someone your heart, which gives them power over you, and trusting them to not to break you. By trusting someone with your vulnerability, you risk being unbalanced, but if they honor that trust, there is balance.
What if they hurt you? What if they betray that trust?
What if they don’t?
F.L.Y. = First Love Yourself.*
*Something that’s been said to me a number of times over the last few weeks.