Friday, September 3, 2010

Eating, Praying, Loving

Well, I finished reading Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert, for the book club that Ginger started. What I found most interesting is not necessarily the book itself (although I definitely enjoyed it), but rather the fact that it was so the right time for me to read this book. Here I was, going on a trip to Paris, where I indulged in food and wine more delicious than anything I've ever had here in the states, even in Boston's most fabulous restaurants (and Bostonians love their food). I ate. While in Paris, I entered Notre Dame Cathedral for the first time in my life and the energy of God or the Universe or whatever you want to call it overwhelmed me, to the point where I had to just sit and let it wash over me. Then I lit a candle to pray for a job and I'm now trying to patiently wait for that to come along. I prayed. And I fell head over heels for my roommate with a sudden rush of feelings so strong I wondered where I'd kept them the past six months. I love.

This book taught me a lot about how to look at those experiences I've just had. First, that allowing pleasure for pleasure's sake, without allowing in worry and regret and whatever else, is an art that, as an American, I may never achieve. But after spending a week in Paris where nearly all I did was go sightseeing, eat, and drink wine, I've learned that I want to try. I want to figure out a way to be a lawyer while still taking time to actually enjoy my lunch, instead of scarfing it down in front of the computer screen because that memo just can't wait for me to digest. I'm not sure how well that will work since I just had to pick a profession that always needs something done yesterday, but both my experience in Paris and my new understanding of true pleasure from the book have made me want to try.

Second, I've been weird about religion for a long time now. I've felt the Universe work for me many times before. One moment that comes to mind is when my mom was almost stuck in Portland for Christmas due to a huge snowstorm in the NW. I remember when she told me her flight was canceled...I hung up the phone and fell to the floor in tears, screaming to the sky that I don't care about the presents, I don't care about anything but having my mom with me for Christmas and DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?!?!? About 5 minutes later, she called back and said her flight had been reinstated and she was on her way. Then there was when Severus was really sick last summer. He had a bladder infection, which can be really dangerous in a male cat. I remember getting him on the antibiotics and they just didn't seem to be DOING anything for the first three days. I was terrified, and I didn't know what else to do. So, I prayed. I prayed to anything that I could think of. And he got better. And, most recently, I prayed that Christen would be okay and that her headaches and whatnot would be nothing. Well, the tests all came back healthy, and in the meantime she realized she only felt sick at work. So, she quit, and she's already starting to feel better.

The thing is, my prayers always involve tears. I'm always sobbing about something or other and begging for help. But I guess that's how it started for Liz. And I liked that Liz feels a lot like me in that she knows there are many paths to who she calls God. I also liked that she calls the being God without attaching the Judeo-Christian ideals to it, she just says it's more comfortable and familiar for her. I'd been really struggling with what to say when I'm praying. I've even been struggling with calling it praying. I still don't like organized religion, with all the rules and right and wrong, so the words associated with the most familiar group of organized religions in the US sometimes bother me. But I think I might go ahead and adopt Liz's idea, that I'm just saying God because it's familiar and easy. I think that will help my attempts at prayer, whether I do them every day or just when I need something. On that note, I liked the bit in the book with the petition to resolve the whole divorce thing, and then the resolution came. I mostly liked when Liz said something to the effect of, I can't just go to God when I want something, and her friend said, "why not?" This makes sense to me. If you're always devoted in your heart, if you're always aware of and grateful for the forces at work, helping you out, then what's wrong with only praying when you need or want something? It's like...well, okay, I have wonderful parents who never guilt me into calling more often or whatever, so this comparison may not hold true for everyone, but I'll use it anyway. It's like when I call my mom or dad for help with something, and they just do it. No stipulations (except maybe paying back borrowed money), no guilt, just love. And I don't have to tell them every single day that I love them, they know I love them. It's in my heart, always. So, why can't God be the same? And, even better, help to the greatest extent possible, for God, should be infinite!

And finally. I have loved before. Years ago. I was young and didn't handle it well. And then some things happened and I was intentionally celibate for two years because I couldn't even deal with the idea of sex. The celibacy broke with a little summer fling that I had just before leaving Portland for Boston to come to law school. He was actually a really great guy and the perfect person to have chosen for the purpose he served -- to bring me back to a place where someone can be interested in both physical AND internal beauty (some of the issues from before). Then there were a few "almost lovers," to quote Almost Lover, by A Fine Frenzy, through the three years of law school. Nothing really ever panned out, for a variety of reasons -- sometimes my issues, sometimes the guy's issues, sometimes both. And then there's now. It's been six years since I've been in a RELATIONSHIP.  I've grown up a lot.  I've learned a lot about myself.  I've learned a lot about what I need and what I want, as well as what I don't need and what I don't want.  I've fumbled around in the dating world and decided against a lot of potential flings/relationships/etc. because I knew they wouldn't be healthy for me.  And then, when I found a person who might be right, I finally gave myself the green light to go ahead and fall again.  I finally told myself I'm ready for the unbalancing balance of love.  And now I'm here, and I'm happy with my south Brazilian (another coincidental similarity to Liz).

So, thanks for the perfect timing, Ginger.  Now, on to the next book!


KC McAuley said...

You are so brave and mature and wonderful. And I miss you so much. I LOVE YOU! xoxo

ginger said...

this is wonderful!! i often pray to both god and jesus without the borders of religion. you don't have to be christian or jewish or anything to love and keep them both with you. and like you, i find my prayers answered almost every time. when i don't it's because what i was praying for was not in my best interest. i'm very thankful for that.

i fully agree with you about organized religion. i often try a label on to see if it fits, but it never does because of all of the rules and limitations that they impose.

i got chills when i read about your experience in the cathedral. i'm very happy for you because of this balance you have found. balance is my whole idea in life. after all, were supposed to work to live, not the other way around. too many people sell their souls for the job and wind up deeply sad in life. if they would just stop to relax and enjoy their surroundings then the whole world would be a better cliche as that sounds.

i'm glad to hear that your friend feels better. i'm happy that you are happy. i'm glad you're my friend.

thanks for posting this, it was an excellent way to pass a few moments early on a saturday. are you going to leave a link on the Eat Pray Love page for the book club so people can link to you from there?

pastrywitch said...

The new background is lovely, as is the entire post.
You are beautiful and strong, and you will find a way to balance law and life; I know it.
I had a kind of weird moment with my hairstylist yesterday. We were chatting, as one does, and I mentioned that Laura was at seminary, and she asked which one, and then asked if I'd made a search for belief and what I'd come up with. I said I'd explored pretty much everything, and that in my opinion, the Creator doesn't care what you call it or how you worship, as long as you do. Then the weird comment - "So, you said worship. You think there is One True God?" I could hear the capital letters. I had an uh-oh moment, and said that I think that there is one infinite source and an infinite number of ways to approach that source, and as long as people aren't trying to kill me over it, I don't care what they call it or how they approach it. She burst out laughing. "That's great. There's room for all of us under the roof, just don't try to kill me." I was relieved, I must say. She's really good.

Bridgete said...

Ginger, I am going to leave a link for others. I forgot because right as I clicked the button to post this, a friend from home IMed me so I got distracted. ;)

Kate, what a wonderful story. I love things like that.

Mom...I love you too. Always.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

I love when life throws us this kind of symmetry! Like everything we prayed for comes to light and even if the instances don't fully reveal themselves until we read the words of someone else, the moment we get who we are and where we're going is truly the most important turning point of all. I couldn't be happier for you to have such courage and comfort to approach all three of these concepts with all of the passion in your heart and soul. You are such a wonderful person and everything that you manifest to be yours is bound to bring light <3