Every Kind of Love
Updated: Sep 6, 2020
I have never understood love. I’ve watched it play out on movie screens, in stories crafted at the hands of sappy romance writers (adults supposedly wisened by their age), or even as a child myself, too naive to see beyond the big, white, wedding dress. Society tossed these stories out like Halloween candy, and I toted them around gleefully, because I, too, dreamt of love. In a secret way.
From those stories I learned only one thing: how to use other people as the basis for my love. Because without people, I didn't think "love" could even exist.
I was wrong. If Liz Gilbert and her memoir/movie, Eat, Pray, Love, teach us anything, it’s that in order to fully experience love, we must head out on our own. We must begin with the hard work of letting go. We must continue by forgiving ourselves, and end by believing in love (of any kind). Because if we believe it exists, then surely we will find it in some form, whether that be with ourselves, God, or another person. A wide open heart will likely find all three, but only if there is faith that they exist.
Eat, Pray, Love (2010 movie adaption)
Liz had to believe in the idea that her world wasn’t just sooty New York streets, a cookie-cutter marriage, having kids, or life as everyone claimed it should be. She had to open herself up to the raw, quaking truths inside her heart that begged for air to breath, sights to see, a person to love. No — not another person, but her person.
And what a novel concept that was… that as a woman, she could discover herself. As a woman, she we could take time to love herself. Had anyone ever given us that permission before?
In many ways, Liz Gilbert accomplished a modern feminist revolution as profound as Betty Friedan’s in the mid-twentieth century. With Eat, Pray, Love, she opened eyes that had been dazed and sleeping for a long time. They were eyes still dazed even after scrapping the role of the 1950’s housewife. Because a woman might have been "freed" from the kitchen, but she was never freed from society’s intention to break her.
Eat, Pray, Love shattered those intentions. And with the shattering, brought new hope.
Now many of us ask, when will we find this absolute love? When will we reach peace? I have learned I should not ask when, as I am not promised either of those things, but it doesn't mean I can't promise to dedicate my life towards discovering them, even knowing there will not be one answer. I may not be in Liz's position (in fact, many of us are not in her position, which is very important to recognize), but it doesn't mean we can't begin the work of letting go, forgiving, and loving. It can start whenever, wherever. I choose to start now.
By the end of Eat, Pray, Love, we traveled with Liz as she saw, met, ate, wept and learned in some of the most awing countries in the world. She started (without fully realizing it) in search of one word, one truth that would bring her closer to herself. And by the end, which is never really the end, she came to see that the journey led her towards exactly what it was meant to — not one love, but every love.