I had meant to get around to finishing “Eat Pray Love” sooner than this past week, but in the midst of New Orleans reading and my obligations to the New York Public Library, it didn’t happen until now. I just looked at Elizabeth Gilbert’s website, to see her “Thoughts on Writing”- no two writers seem to agree on that. It threw me that she referred to a 40 year old novelist as a “woman of a certain age.” Damn! 40 is old? I thought 40 was the new 20, 50 was the new 30, etc. A poet friend of mine died last year- he was in his 80s, and he finished his last book in 2006. What does that make him? Gilbert herself is 39.
So I have three additional favorite parts. One is her quote from a very old lady who said people fight over two basic things: who has the power, and “how much do you love me?” The second is her description of family reunions and her place at them, and the odd position a childless adult is in. First, you’re a child, then you’re a parent, and finally a grandparent. But if you aren’t a parent, perhaps even more than if you’re single I think, puts you in an odd place on that family continuum. If you are a parent or grandparent, no matter how bad things get, you can always say, “well, I did something with my life- I had a child.” If you’re not, “what did I do with my life?” can be harder to answer.
And finally, the story of the four brothers that Ketut the Balinese priest tells Gilbert. When a baby is born, it has four brothers born with it, who will be with the baby wherever she goes. When it dies, the brothers will take her to heaven. The brothers are Intelligence, Friendship, Strength and Poetry. How cool is that?