Posted by: michelle @ books my kids read | October 1, 2009

In Italy again

My book club here in NC is reading Eat Pray Love. I read this a year and a half ago for my book club in KC and absolutely loved it. I decided to pick it up again and re-read it in preparation for next week’s meeting. I know that a few of the members here cannot stand this book, so it should make for a very interesting book club. This is definitely one of those love/hate books. As I said, I LOVED it. My book club in KC pretty much loved it. But I think that a big part of that had to do with the fact that we were a group of very open minded, liberal, not overly religious women going on our own personal searches. I was on the older spectrum of ages, so that might also have something to do with it. My book club here in NC is more of a mix of religious backgrounds (although primarily of the christian faith) and a lot of the women are military wives. It is also a mom’s group so everyone is married and has children. In the KC group, there were only 2 of us that had kids, and the other mom’s kids were grown.

So anyway, I’m back to reading this book. I love it again. I’m currently in Italy which is the first portion of the book – Italy (eat), India (pray) and Indonesia (love). I remember that this was not my favorite section, but just by the number of exclamation points I wrote in the margins and the pages I folded down, there were obviously parts that hit home. They still do. I’m not going to tell the story of this book, but here are some of the key quotes that get to me so far in my re-reading and why. These are in order of how they appear in the book.

“I have always responded with breathless excitement to anyone who has ever said that God does not live in a dogmatic scripture or in a distant throne in the sky, but instead abindes very close to us indeed – much closer than we can imagine, breathing right through our own hearts. I respond with gratitude to anyone who has ever voyaged to the center of that heart, and who has then returned to the world with a report for the rest of us that God is an experience of supreme love…[W]hen the question is raised ‘What kind of God do you believe in?’ my answer is easy: ‘I believe in a magnificent God.'”

This one really gets to me because it is what I think of when I think of God and religion in general. Faith is a difficult thing. Organized religion is a difficult thing. Believing in the power of some kind of higher being who has given us all of this beautiful nature and good people, that I can easily get behind. Sure there is evil in the world, but that comes into the yin/yang principle. I have a really hard time with fundamentalist religions who see it as their way or no way. I am religiously a Jew. I don’t believe that the messiah has come. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think anyone who believes in Jesus is wrong. I am a socially liberal person who cannot see the negativity in homosexuality. I happen to be straight, but love is the strongest power out there and if you physically love someone who happens to be the same sex that you are, better to have loved. It is no religion’s right to tell me that this is wrong. If you don’t believe in homosexuality, then be straight. It isn’t a choice people can make and if you believe in God then you believe that God made all of us in love, regardless of the little details.

When loneliness and depression rear their ugly heads she explains “I’d stopped taking my medication only a few days earlier. It seemed crazy to be taking antidepressants in Italy. How could I be depressed here? I’d never wanted to be on the medication in the first place. I’d fought taking it for so long mainly because of a long list of personal objections (e.g. Americans are overmedicated; we don’t know the long-term effects of this stuff on the human brain;…we are treating symptoms and not the cause of a national mental health emergency…)Still, during the last few years of my life, there was no question that I was in grave trouble and that this trouble was not lifting quickly….When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost.

…When I went to see the psychiatrist…he asked me what had taken me so long to get help…He said, ‘If you had a kidney disease, you wouldn’t hesitate to take medication for it – why are you hesitating with this?’…Quickly, in less than a week, I could feel an extra inch of daylight opening in my mind.”

I realize that I’m a little to open about my emotional health and the fact that I am medicated, which I really think I need to real in, but this is an important statement to me. Initially I was diagnosed with PPD. As time went on, I realized that wasn’t it and that I had anxiety issues that I just didn’t know how to deal with, or in some instances, couldn’t deal with because the other problems I was dealing with were somewhat out of my control. I fought being on meds like you wouldn’t believe. I tried everything. I still try everything. But sometimes there is this horrible fog over me and I can’t see the forest for the trees. My therapist used similar words about treating depression like you would kidney disease and while I still don’t 100% agree with that, I think Americans are overmedicated and not dealing with the issues causing that need, I know that being on them is the right decision for me right now. There are some people I know who would seriously benefit from having the fog lifted, but everyone has to go through the fight and the soul searching on their own.

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”

Okay, this one isn’t from the Italy section, but it is my favorite quote from the whole book and is on my goodreads quotes page. I have a feeling I’m going to share my journeys back through the other two sections of the book, but just in case that doesn’t happen, this one had to be put out there.



  1. I loved this book too. I really should re-read it.. and while I am opened minded I think I am one of few if not the only non-liberal in the book club here in KC.
    I’m interested in what the movie will be like. I will re-read before the movie.

    I also loved her thoughts and ideas on religion.

    Miss you here in KC. Getting ready to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo!

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