Betty Duffy

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

One more word on Eat Pray Love

One of the reasons I read Eat Pray Love so willingly, and thought about it so much, is because there was something about her story that felt very seductive, while at the same time very dangerous. It hit me in a vulnerable place, because I am a creature of fantasy who tends to put hope in imaginary things, willing to believe that someday I'll be blissfully happy if I keep moving away from what is real and right in front of me towards the pictures of glory in my mind (i.e. A tour of Europe, good food, spiritual highs, S-E-...--and a book deal to cap it all off).

My cycles of dissatisfaction are brought on, not only by the fact that I have chosen a different route in life (which has its own specific ups and downs), but also by my ego, which believes that I deserve to enjoy the perks and pleasures of a life I don't happen to be living. And my ego is constantly metamorphosing into new and mysterious disguises, adapting its wants to a prettily packaged, harmless looking memoir about three very good things. If I could nail my constant pining for some other happiness as the blatant ego preservation that it is, I'd give it a violent death. Or maybe I wouldn't. Maybe I would just hope that somehow my ego and my desire for Heaven could peacefully co-exist. I'd bumble along for the entirety of my life, on average terms with Jesus, on better terms with myself, and just hope for the best. That at the end of my life, I will have gotten by. I will have done just enough to ensure my entry into Heaven, but I will have brought with me my one true love--my Self.

Everyone feels a silent pity for the elderly, first because they are so close to dying, but mainly because, being so close to the end, they have never been cured of those defects that forever have been glaringly obvious to everyone but themselves. In their old age, we can forgive them, feel pity even, because the aged, like the very young, don't know any better. We can only assume they don't know any better because they've had a lifetime to discover those defects and cure them in the Refiner's Fire, but instead, those defects have only grown more intense. How many times have I said that I don't want to be the crusty old woman who never got the point? I believe in the mercy of God to do for people what in life they were unable to do. But I am aware right here and now of the specific details and defects driving a wedge between me and God.

This is to say that I don't need anyone encouraging me to put myself first, or to remember my best me, or to spend another second thinking of or pampering my self. All of this comes very naturally to me. Even with four kids and a bun in the oven, my first thought of the day's labor is always a recognition of the cost to my self. Oprah Winfrey and books like Eat Pray love are big business, because if we really can buy the conviction that all this self orientation is good for our souls, we will do it.


Jus said...

Amen. I think that it comes from a difference in how one defines ones best self. I hope on a daily basis to be my best self - that divine spark that I have inside of me - the breath of God- and each night I fall asleep knowing I fell short and pray for the opportunity to try again tomorrow. I think what is so sad about someone dying young is never that they didn't get to eat in Italy it is rather that they had that much less time to prepare themselves for the inevitable.

swaying mama said...

i read your first post with interest and felt the FIRE of your conviction but also had the feeling of: i think she doth protest too much. i am glad to see that in this second post, you cover the fact that you still have doubts. i hear that you are doing what you feel is right and what you are led to but that doesn't mean you don't struggle with it and wish for things you can't have because of your choices.

you are amazing and i am glad that you take time for yourself. i don't have your convictions and couldn't imagine your life, just as i'm sure you couldn't imagine mine. i'm glad we are allowed to each find our own path.

blessings to you on yours.
rachael b.

'becca said...

I love you Duffy! No deep thoughts from me this morning, just a defense of why I enjoyed the read. ;)
This is why - IT WAS total self inulgence. In the midst of a stack of text books and studying the Bible as a textbook, I'd retreat to eating pasta (enjoying not really gaining weight as she did) and being silent in India when I was really yelling for kids to come to dinner or ordering them to quit wrestling in the house and then to find a new friend on a little island with a nearby beach, when in reality my friends were far away and all I could see were corn and soyben fields, not the sand and waves... the story allowed me a little vacation while taking a moment for myself, one chapter at a time.

Betty Duffy said...

I hear you, Becca. I agree, it was an enjoyable and light-hearted read. Strange that I should have given this one so much thought when I breezed through three Shopaholic books without a single thought to the negative impact on my soul. Whatever "Betty Duffy"--I still love a little escapism and will likely continue to read troubling memoirs, because it's downright fun.

Betty Duffy said...

...and it gives me something to blog about.

Marie said...

When I taught school, the young man who looked like he was about to punch me I could sympathize with. But the teen girls rolling their eyes at me, I wanted to throw away the key.

I think you're right, the wrongs we are most tempted to are the ones we are most inclined to despise in others. This book made me nuts, but I think it was a combination of temptation and jealousy that ramped up the distaste for me.
Good post, of course, as usual.