Experience to Book To Movie
Let's face it, we all have a story to tell. We all have a dark night of the soul, perhaps two or three actually. In those horrific times, we have the most enticing stories because they are filled with angst, discovery and grief. No one wants to hear all about daily life, unless it is riddled with problems, issues and aha moments.
Elizabeth Gilbert's book: Eat. Pray Love. was a perfect memoir because it filled us with the authors doubts and her discovery of her authentic self after she gets to spend months squirreled away eating pasta, praying and chanting with a guru, and finding love in paradise. More to the point, Liz shared her spiritual quest with the world in her self reflective story and allowed us to muse over the very same things, without having to leave the comfort of our armchairs. Gilbert's next book, Committed, picked up where this one ends and is egregiously anti-climatic. Her next journey is not as fresh, although she wants closure and she also wants to understand commitment is not the foul odor she once believed it to be.
Enter the movie. First off, I was put off when I learned Julia Roberts was playing the part of Liz, although her acting skills gave evidence that she had her own journey. She currently is interested in Hinduism, (and if it takes this kind of role to make her educated in Eastern religion, more power to her) and she seems believable in the role. Javier Bardam is a stretch as Felipe, but who can fault the choice of such delicious eye candy? My choice would have been Kyra Sedgewick, Kevin Bacon's wife, but alas, no blockbuster ratings as yet.
I am always grateful when a movie introduces the public to something outside of their own experience, and this film clearly shows the poverty inherent in India and the dedication to the spiritual life in an ashram (as much as Hollywood can that is) But what makes me crazy is the marketing being done (currently in such places as World Market) of the loose clothing, Buddha statues and other means of spiritual accoutrement's that will no doubt grace the nonspiritual public due to the faddishness of the movie. People have no idea what these spiritual things represent, and so as a way of falling into marketing harmony with those who are "hip" to the scene, we will have Ganesh and Kali and other adornments worn with no attention to the purpose of such entities. They will merely be the cool thing to don in light of the recent frenzy of this movie.
There is no fast and furious way to become enlightened in this world. There are instead, times we must plod on in reverent fashion, endlessly hoping for a break in the suffering. There are times we all face these demons in our own lives, and try as we might, insidious marketing products bought to transmute the maya have little effect on the lasting lessons we learn from along the way. The biggest problem with such books as Gilbert's is they provide us with the wrong kind of understanding. If we only had 12 months to eat, pray and find love in three different countries, we too can save ourselves from ourselves. This, of course is not to disparage Liz and her own journey. It is to save us from being sucked into the maelstrom of belief that if we follow the same path, we will find the same outcome.
Marketing has been good to Liz. It has provided her with notoriety and income she might not have otherwise had in her life. But please....when we Hollywoodize a popular book and make the pieces of it into marketing fad-mania, we take so much away from the journey as the experience we can learn from and aspire to. We make it look like all we have to do is don some cute over-sized shirts and eat more pizza...then find the man of our dreams amongst some ex-pats in Bali...if only it were just that easy.
So...what will it be? A statue? Mala Beads, A meditation cushion? Guru pictures? You name it...they are being marketed. All in the same of money, not spiritual beliefs.