Elizabeth Gilbert talks about love a lot. I mean, A LOT! Love in its glory and its messiness. Love through vulnerability and courage. Love that comes from a higher power or a higher connectedness to ourselves.
I had the pleasure of seeing Elizabeth Gilbert at Memorial Church at Harvard for the last stop in her US tour for the book launch of City of Girls. I wasn’t there because of City of Girls, I was there for Elizabeth Gilbert. I have truly come to love Liz and her truth and vulnerability around all subjects involving love. It has been a joy to follow her on Instagram and watch her be brave and fearless around subjects that are really truly just about us being decent human beings to each other and ourselves. She teaches us how to love.
I first found Elizabeth Gilbert when I picked up a copy of Eat, Pray, Love in 2008. Everyone was talking about it. It was a ”must read”. I devoured the first two sections of Eat, Pray, Love because I totally connected. You see, I had just blown up my relationship and life and found myself inserted into the book laying there on the bathroom floor praying to a god for direction. Praying to myself for help. I was also on a deeper path of spirituality. I had become lost and was searching for myself and deeper meaning of myself in this world and universe. When I got a few pages into the Love section of the book, I stopped reading. It wasn’t time. My entire being knew it and felt it.
Fast forward 11 years. A journey of my own had taken place from 2008 to 2018. Some of it was beautiful and some of it was painful. People came in and out of my life to teach me lessons, some glorious loving, others painful reflections in the mirror of where I still didn’t love myself or think myself worthy of great love.
Where I really fell in love with Elizabeth Gilbert was in the magical words of Big Magic. It was speaking my language. Love Wide Open was a big magic idea and now I understood what I must do. I needed to bring Love Wide Open to life. So, I set out to do that by sharing it with the world. It led me on a fantastical journey that resulted in my own book of lyric narrative poems being published. Roots and Tendrils was a culmination of 10 years of love and heartbreak that ultimately led me to learn self-love. The book went off to the publisher in December of 2018 and was published in March of 2019. A decade long journey neatly packed as my gift to the world and my gift to myself.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s concept of being love in the room has had me devouring her content again. When it was announced that Boston was one of the book tour stops for her, I didn’t hesitate to grab a ticket. She has been such an inspiration to me in so many ways, that I wanted to hear her speak at a live event. When I purchased the tickets, I also felt that it was time to finish Eat, Pray, Love. There, neatly tucked in my bookcase, was Eat, Pray, Love waiting to be finished. My bookmark still there between pages 240 and 241. It felt seamless to pick up where I left off. Towards the end, I understood what I was reading, because I had also arrived at this place. I wouldn’t have understood it in 2008 because I hadn’t lived it. But now, I understood it fully.
“When all this was finished, I was empty. Nothing was fighting in my mind anymore. I looked into my heart, at my own goodness, and I saw its capacity. I saw that my heart was not even full, not even after having taken in and tended to all those calamitous urchins of sorrow and anger and shame; my heart could easily have received and forgiven even more. Its love was infinite.
I knew then that this is how God loves us all and receives us all, and that there is no such thing in this universe as hell, except maybe in our own terrified minds. Because if even one broken and limited human being could experience even one such episode of absolute forgiveness and acceptance of her own self, then imagine – just imagine! – what God, in all His eternal compassion, can forgive and accept.” —Elizabeth Gilbert
I didn’t waste my chance to at least ask Liz a question. I was the last question of the night. It’s easy for a lot of us to be love in the room for others and often very hard for us to be love in the room for ourselves. I asked her how would she suggest that we do that for ourselves, how does she do it for herself. What came back was an answer that was, of course, so Elizabeth Gilbert. She reiterated for each of us to be the love in the room. If you are alone in the room, be love for yourself. The more we can be in love with ourselves, the more we can be there for others. Self-care is a daily practice, and it’s never too late to start. Give yourself a break, step back. Show yourself some mercy and be love for yourself. She then went on to recite a Derek Walcott poem called “Love After Love”. It also happens to be one of my favorites. There are no coincidences in this world.
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Here are the other 10 Elizabeth Gilbert quotes that have shaped my life and love. May they also inspire you.
From Eat, Pray, Love:
“When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.”
“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.
A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life…”
“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it—I will love you through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you, too. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”
“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.”
From Big Magic:
“Ideas have no material body but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have a will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only thru a human’s effort that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.”
“Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it’s not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to recognise the distinction. Bravery means doing something scary. Fearlessness means not even understanding what the word scary means.”
“And you have treasures hidden within you — extraordinary treasures — and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.”
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels — that’s creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place — that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.”
“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
“If you have lost a loved one to death, and you thought you’d never love again, but you are feeling a pull of attraction toward someone new, and you’re not sure if that’s OK? Let me normalize it for you. Let me say: It’s Ok. Your heart is a giant cathedral. Let it open. Let it love. Do not let your gorgeous loyalty to the deceased stop you from experiencing the marvels and terrors of your short, mortal, precious life. It’s OK to live, and to love.”
Liz Gilbert will continue to inspire me, as I now inspire people. Through learning how to love myself, I now teach people about love and take clients on heart space journeys. The ride, although bumpy at times, has been totally worth it. Love in all its messiness and beauty has been incredible. I can’t wait to see what happens next. What I do know is that love will always be here.
Have you had a chance to explore my book, Roots and Tendrils? It is a journey through the highs of love and the lows of heartbreak that ultimately leads to self-love.
Other Heidi articles: You Have the Power to Live Your Best Life
©Love Wide Open