Awhile back, I got into a huge, hours long online argument via chat window with Barnes and Noble about how I’d spent a lot of money on e-books through their website and now that my Nook (my second, the first of which also had issues after about a year) had gone toes up after only two years I had nothing to read my books on. I had already purchased a Kindle (which I’m liking better) and I was mad as heck that I couldn’t transfer my books WHICH I PAID MONEY FOR from one device to the other because of how Barnes and Noble locks theirs down with some kind of techno-something or other that I can’t understand (which I’ve been told is partly the format and partly something called DRM). So to placate me, they gave me a $25 gift card as well as two books of my choice. One of which ended up being a paperback copy of the 10th anniversary edition of Eat Pray Love. Which, as I have previously said, is a book I both love and hate in equal measure.
I picked it up last night and read the new introduction by the author, part of which made me kind of annoyed. She said, in part, that our lives belong to us and it’s up to us to do with them as we will.
Um..no. Our lives do not belong to us. Or at least..mine never has. Since I was six years old, my life has never been mine. It has belonged to my siblings, whom I had to take care of. It belonged to my parents, to whom I was responsible for keeping up the house and doing the laundry and what not. Once I started school, it belonged to my teachers, to whom I was responsible for trying to be a good student. My life belonged to the church I attended growing up, as I was required to perform acts of service. My life belongs to my husband, to whom I am responsible for taking care of in all the ways that wives have always taken care of their husbands. My life belongs to my cats, who I chose to adopt. My life belongs to my son, who demands so much of my time and energy. My life belongs to my boss, who depends on me to be a good employee.
There are small things that I do FOR MYSELF, like this blog and the fanfiction that I write and the book club I now belong to. But my life is not mine. And if it suddenly were to belong to me, I don’t know what on earth I would do with it. A Southern girl is raised to serve, to give and sacrifice till they have nothing left and then, when they are totally drained and empty, to dig down deeper and give and sacrifice a little bit more. Sacrifice is in our blood. You can’t change that.
Elizabeth Gilbert, I forgive you (sort of) for not understanding that our lives don’t belong to us. You’re a damned Yankee so of course you’ve got all kinds of foolish notions about how women are really free to do whatever they want even though in so many cases, we aren’t. We are bound by tradition, sometimes by lack of opportunity, education and most definitely by lack of funds. We have kids and jobs we can’t leave. A lot of us are stuck and we know it sucks. But we do what we’re supposed to do–we honor the commitments we’re bound to (most especially marriage which is NOT all about romance as you seem to believe–romance is bullshit for dreamers and fairy tale princesses and moony eyed teenagers if you ask me) and we find a way to keep trudging on like elephants under a heavy load with a punishing mahout every single day.
What you offer up in your books (I haven’t read the one about creative living yet and frankly, I’m not entirely sure I want to) is bullshit dreams that only the very lucky, talented and most importantly RICH have the ability to obtain.What you offer up is pure fantasy which I tend to avoid like the plague (except when I don’t, because I wouldn’t have read all of the Fire and Ice books if I didn’t like fantasy some of the time. Actually, that was more about seeing IF I could do it before I got so sick of them I just wanted to chuck them all out the window) because it’s useless. Fantasy is about dreaming dreams that will never come true when there are more important things to be done like going to work, paying the bills, doing never ending loads of laundry.
I guess I’m too much of a realist to believe in your make-believe world, Elizabeth Gilbert.