When You’re Struggling, Remember these “Eat, Pray, Love” Words by Elizabeth Gilbert.

There’s insecurity and chaos after so many people lost their livelihoods as a result of the pandemic and who are facing troubled times right now. Although you can’t lose a job you don’t have — it’s another way of saying that I don’t have a “real job” –  I can sense the restlessness that drives many of us these days.

A restlessness I’m familiar with. Moving to a new place on a new island, working on new projects within a pandemic world, and moving house again, to a tiny, basic, off-grid home in development, don’t make 2020 a particularly easy ride. 

I didn’t fully realize it until recently, but these past eight months have been a bit of a struggle, mostly with myself. More than before I see obstacles on the road. Every thing I do, feels like an effort and somehow I need time in the morning before I can start the day with a positive mindset. During these last months I wanted to cry and let my water run free, just to let it all out, but I just couldn’t. 

Several times I felt tears burning in my throat, but I couldn’t release them. Then the other day, all of a sudden, I started sobbing and, finally, I could let my bottled up tears go. The strange thing is, I didn’t even know why. I couldn’t explain to my partner what was going on and somehow without words he knew that I only needed his firm, loving arms around me. 

Then I sobbed because of “everything”: my mother who lives alone while I’m living in another country and I can’t support her. My dad who passed away many years ago and who I miss so much. The fear something bad happens to my partner. Family members, who are ill. Our suffering planet. People’s greed that destroy the natural world. Hunger. The exploitation of animals. Refugee men, women and children, who are living miserable lives in refugee camps in Lesbos, Greece. I have read urgent, poignant stories about this crisis; it’s complete darkness without the tiniest sparkle of light and hope to a better future. Really, these stories leave you with a heavy heart in your comfortable home.

Remember Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’?  I thought, this must be the book that would lift me up from my melancholia. I was about to finish this soul-searching story when a gripping paragraph caught my attention and its writer – she’s so funny too – just poured me a warm cup of comforting tea. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s words I read something that needs to be saved to let them be a guidance on gloomy days.

“They (Zen Buddhists) say that an oak tree is brought into creation by two forces at the same time. Obviously, there is the acorn from which it all begins, the seed which holds all the promise and potential, which grows into the tree. Everybody can see that. 

But only a few can recognize that there is another force operating here as well — the future tree itself, which wants so badly to exist that it pulls the acorn into being, drawing the seedling forth with longing out of the void, guiding the evolution from nothingness to maturity. 

In this respect, say the Zens, it is the oak tree that creates the very acorn from which it was born. 

I think about the woman I have become lately, about the life that I am now living, and about how much I always wanted to be this person and live this life, liberated from the farce of pretending to be anyone other than myself. 

I think of everything I endured before getting here and wonder if it was me – I mean, this happy and balanced me, who is now dozing on the deck of this small Indonesian fishing boat — who pulled the other, younger, more confused and more struggling me forward during all those hard years. 

The younger me was the acorn full of potential, but it was the older me, the already-existent oak, who was saying the whole time: “Yes – grow!  Change! Evolve! Come and meet me here, where I already exist in wholeness and maturity! I need you to grow into me!” 

And maybe it was this present and fully actualized me, who was hovering four years ago over that young married sobbing girl on the bathroom floor and maybe it was this me, who whispered lovingly into that desperate girl’s ear, “Go back to bed, Liz..” Knowing already that everything would be OK, that everything would eventually bring us together here.”

I guess I still have to meet my older me, the balanced woman who navigates on trust, the already-existent oak tree. 

Or could it be, she did arrive the other day and whispers to me: “You are growing. You will get there. You are resilient. If you feel bad, don’t fight it. Cry if you want to, life isn’t about being happy all the time. Life is about living every single moment. Life is about growing; through happy and sad times. Be with your grief. Don’t feel ashamed for your tears and the mountains you need to climb that feel too high for you right now. Do it step by step. Don’t be afraid. Trust. Everything will be OK.”

Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert for planting this seed!

Con Amor,

Eva