Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Best Intentions, or, How the spirit animal of Elizabeth Gilbert kicked my whining ass into gear.

I've been barreling through a lot lately. This isn't really the forum to discuss such a thing, so I won't. But I will offer up a prayer of acknowledgment to the universe that I know it could be a lot worse, and am so grateful that it isn't. And that I'm so thankful that it's nothing to do with Sir or our relationship or our health or my family's health or anything like that. Things will be okay.

My go-to option for self-soothing is always to hurry through whatever book I'm currently reading and get myself back to center with some Eat Pray Love. Scoff if you must, but clearly you haven't read the book (and may have seen the terrible, terrible movie). My love for this story, for the author Elizabeth Gilbert, is immeasurable. She is speaking directly to me. I want to be her, or at least be her best friend and confidante. I want her to teach me. Even on my best days, I read Eat Pray Love in between every other book I read, as a palate-cleanser. When I'm feeling particularly anxious, I just put it on repeat. Per the aforementioned, I'm currently on the third go-round of this particular jaunt.

The people on the C train must think I read very, very slowly.

I had just come to the part where she learns about David's guru and is surprised to find she'd like her own (page 25 of the paperback) when my own tired, defeated heart stood up and declared the same.

"I, too, want a spiritual teacher!"

Or, you know, maybe a mentor. Maybe Elizabeth herself could mentor me. She lives in the tri-state area (I think); I live in New York City. I bet ol' Liz is dying to give up her precious free time to have coffee with a twenty-something in her quarter-life crisis, musing over witticisms in some tiny café in the Village and offering sage advice on writing and yoga and travel and life.

It was so brilliantly simple.

Except it wasn't, and about five seconds of Googling led me to the conclusion that she wasn't looking to be sought after for mentorship, or anything really. After a split second of deflation, I decide that it's okay with me that she doesn't want to be found, because that seems pretty in line with the character she paints for herself in her books. And, there's nothing worse than finding out that a public figure you admire isn't exactly how you thought they'd be. So instead of a mentor, maybe she can be my spirit animal. Spirit-Liz will have plenty to offer me, I'm sure of it. And I do hope that my Spirit-Liz will come in handy, because I could really use the guidance.

What Would Elizabeth Gilbert Do. Maybe I'll make bracelets.


The worrying grain of sand in my oyster-shell, the singular thought that whole of my melancholy spins from and comes back to is always the same: I want to be a writer. And I do. I really, really want to be a writer. I would also like to win the lottery. In my cautious and over-practical mind, it feels like these thoughts have equal merit and possibility, which leads me to act on them more or less evenly, which is to say, not at all.

I wish I could tell you that my aspirations to be a writer are admirable, refined, guided by years of study and devotion to fine literature, but really, they're all knobby knees and elbows, tripping over themselves with crazed eyes and coffee breath and no real excuse for themselves. They're a herd of gawky teenage wildebeest in the safari of my anxiety-riddled mind, knocking over the gazelles and scattering the hornbills as they thoroughly ruin what really did have the potential to be a pleasant panorama, if only I could shut them out.

Sitting on the subway last night, consumed by everything and feeling very sorry for myself indeed, I felt that old herd of longing start to stampede in my already over-saturated mind. Spirit-Liz stirs in her meditation, opening one eye but saying nothing.

"I WANT to be a WRITER!" My aspirations exclaim in their impatient frenzy, running and jumping and braying and panting, as wild and desperate as ever.

"Really?" Asks my Spirit-Liz, looking down on me kindly, one eyebrow raised.

My aspirations slow their stampede and look up, hurt. "Yes, of course really!"

"Oh, okay." Spirit-Liz smiles knowingly, closing her eyes.

Stampede over. "What IS it?" My aspirations explode, exasperated.

"Well, its just that you don't LOOK like someone who wants to be a writer."

That shut me up.

So this morning, I set my alarm early and crawled meekly out of bed, so early the cat was still stretching and looking at me funny (I am, to say the least, not known for being an early riser). I made a pot of tea and unfurled my yoga mat in the office, moving through sun salutations until I could feel the blood flowing and the landscape start to still.

And now I'm here, with my bare feet and my NPR t-shirt and my very best intentions.

And I really wish I could stay.

My other spirit animal.


  1. You already are a writer.

    Judy Riedl has been writing for 50 years , this year at seventy she had a publishing company publish a little sample of years of writing from the heart. Now she feels like she is an author. Yet she has always been an author.

    Keep writing and when the moment is right you will publish.

  2. Elizabeth Gilbert is published by:
    Paul Slovak
    375 Hudson St. 4th Floor
    New York, NY 10014

    send in this blog

  3. I agree with the comments you have made