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Monday, August 30, 2010

Dream, Desire, Go

For graduation a few years ago I got a lot of thoughtful gifts from a lot of wonderful friends and family. Quite a few of the gifts were actually travel books – which was fitting as I was preparing to head out the door for the next 7 or so months to see as much as I could before coming back to start working for ATC. One of the books was Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love – which, I have to admit I assumed was clearly too fluffy for me, but I took it along with me for an airport read as it was a light weight paperback.

As it turns out, I was wrong about the book. It was a good read – interesting, each of her destinations (Italy, India & Bali) were well painted through her descriptions and she did a good job of contextualizing places that are sometimes difficult to understand without first hand experience. After reading EPL, I realized that I liked her point of view and have since gone ahead and acquired some of her other and lesser-known work (currently I’m reading her follow up to EPL, Committed). I am happy to report that the inquisitive voice that led her through EPL is once again present, along with her well-timed humor and wit.

However, as the Julia Roberts sensation that is Eat, Pray, Love, the movie, has taken over as a major summer blockbuster I am finding that people have missed the point. With Julia lending her face to reprints of the book, new perfumes, home accoutrements, specialty foods and world travel tours – the confusion is understandable. Nonetheless, EPL is not about taking the adventure that Elizabeth Gilbert had and replicating it – it is about taking the opportunity to separate yourself from the comforts of home and push your boundaries to find out who you really are, and where you are going. It is about growing.

There are tours out there that chronicle every place listed, from the restaurants to the ashram and even end with a journey to meet Katut (her Balinese teacher and medicine man). But I would dare to say that any journey that you choose to take, with the hopes of rekindling your relationship with your own dreams and life is so much more valuable. There is no doubt that getting off the beaten path helps (the more out of your comfort zone you are, the more questions you have to answer about yourself) and going some place new does too – but the most important part isn’t where you’re going, it's that you're willing to let that place change you.

Recently, I saw an interview that Elizabeth Gilbert did, and I was amazed to see how much she agreed with this idea. She went on to explain that she didn’t write EPL as a handbook or a travel guide, but as a testimony of what the world has to offer to all of us. The lesson is the point and the journey is the lesson. So get out there, make your own epic journey – dream, desire and go!


Above the Clouds

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