two lessons I took from Eat Pray love (the movie)

Everyone is going to see the movie, right. Even if you’re one of those people who says Elizabeth Gilbert should build a bridge. Grab her baggage. And trundle over it.


I saw an advanced preview of the film about two months ago. I really enjoyed it. It would be easy for me, with my scathing journalistic hat on, to go to town on the premise (when life gets tough, indulgently rack off for a year), but I’ll leave that to others…in particular the English who just LOVE to get snarky about anything self-helpy and American and sunny.

OK, so two things I took away from the movie that made me feel enrichened (which are just enactments of bits in the book…but it was good to see them played out again):

1. Smile in your liver

There’s a bit where Ketut (the Balinese guru) instructs Liz on her meditation, and suggests she backs off from the mantras and the strictures:

You make serious face like this, you scare away good energy. To meditate, only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clear away dirty energy. Even smile in your liver.

Yes, yes, yes! This works. Keep it simple and just smile. When you walk, when you’re driving and when you meditate (or, if you don’t meditate, when you rest a moment). I’d advise not worrying about good or bad energy. Just smile with every bit of yourself. I find smiling with my eyes when I’m meditating works all kinds of magic.

Try it.

2. Eat asparagus and boiled eggs and a peach on the floor in a sunbeam and read the newspaper

This is my favourite bit of all – when Liz lays out a “still life salad” of her favourite things – boiled eggs, asparagus, salmon, goats cheese, olives and a peach – on a beautiful plate and then eats it on the floor of her Roman apartment, in a sunbeam, with her fingers, while reading the newspaper. The movie captures the book version of this scene perfectly – it was EXACTLY how I pictured it in my mind’s eye.

The beauty of this scene is that it’s a grand, breakthrough moment – it’s when Liz gets mindful and calm and centred with food. She’s not gorging, or abstaining. She’s fully appreciating the prettiness of the food and honouring it. She finally “gets” food.

But more than that for me. It’s a moment when Liz works out what she likes. She likes eggs. And peaches. And sitting in the sun alone. And reading the paper. THIS is freedom when you’re a middle-class, white woman in this world. Knowing what you like. Being still enough to access your “you-ness” and to feel what makes you swell with completeness.

You don’t have to be cashed-up and indulged and living it up in Italy to make a still life salad. You can do it tonight. Start with a nice plate. Choose random things that you just like…they don’t have to go together. They don’t have to fit a story. Prepare them slowly and display them as you see fit. Then eat one by one.

On my plate: figs, tamari almonds, yellow squash, witlof, white anchovies. Yours?

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