So I’m waiting for the kids to emerge from Saturday morning pictures, just as kids should, and I’m writing this on my iPhone and marvelling at 21st century comms. They’ll be in with Selena Gomez and chums for another two hours and there’s nothing to do other than read ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and wonder how come someone else wrote my story.
From the breakdown in a relationship to the hedonistic freedom of newly single life (although in London rather than Rome) to an ashram – and spookily, that exact same roof scene – the flagellation over the monkey mind, and then to Skyros (my Bali of 1994) for the final permission to love again, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is my (and probably 10 million other women’s) story. Mine would probably be called ‘Drink, Pray, Love’ though. Yes, there’s a bit of envy as I read Liz Gilbert’s observations of so many of the exact same things as I went through in so many of the same places, and for the same reasons. I too met Texan Richard, although he had a different name and nationality, but Swiss Philippe did the same pushing and prodding, just as thousands of Texan Richards/Swiss Philippes have done and will do with newly single woman in search of everything. I too sat on a metaphorical beach afterwards, spending time with medicine men with no teeth and wisdom and compassion to burn. I too turned down the perfect man while he waited patiently until I ran out of reasons to make myself unhappy.
Why I didn’t push to write what I wanted to write back in 1995 instead of extracting only the tantric sex bits that the publisher was interested in is part of my story too. That brief window of opportunity, which only the very few stop to look through, takes a long old time to clear, and I wasn’t anywhere near a new view back then. What amazes me about Liz Gilbert is that she was, armed with a few books, gurus and a hell of a lot more time that most of us will ever have. Oh, and an advance from the Gods. But hats off to her; the act of writing is often what speeds the process, and the weaving together of her story no doubt wove her together faster than any meditation could. Yes, I wish I’d done it, both for me and for my bank account, but instead I shall dream of going back to Bali one day where I too first spotted perfection.
One of the smiley Wayans who played host to me and my backpack in 1985 told me that God had taken a while to create the perfect human being. When he baked his first batch, he left it in the oven too long and the humans came out burnt. He tried again. This time, they were pale and undercooked. The third time, he got it and presented the world with the golden, smiling Balinese.