I wrote yesterday about the cool reviews for Eat Pray Love and the possibility that viewers won’t be sympathetic to a character who takes a year-long unpaid jaunt to Eurasia while they’re stuck in the midst of a recession. As predicted, a few people told me “read the book and then you’ll understand”, but all I really claimed to do was blog on my own impressions. My impression? It might be inspiring to watch Julia Roberts find enlightenment on another continent, but it’ll probably leave most viewers with the impression that enlightenment is far beyond the reach of anybody who can’t afford the requisite spiritual jump-start of long-distance travel.
But it turns out that even somebody who can’t afford an Eat Pray Love vacation can get a little piece of Elizabeth Gilbert’s spiritual awakening for themselves, the same way kids get a piece of their favourite Disney Princess in McDonald’s Happy Meals or giant nerds like me got a piece of The Lord of the Rings mythos by collecting plastic bobbleheads shaped like Gollum. Witness the wide range of merchandise aimed at women just like Elizabeth, only not likely to make it to Bali any time soon:
- The Republic of Tea offers a premium brew for Eat Pray Love fans, featuring cinnamon and blood orange.
- World Market shoppers can decorate their homes with a collection of exotic accents allegedly inspired by the movie and its locations, from teapots to Tibetan prayer flags.
- Fans who are also fashionistas can show their love by dressing in the embroidered-silk Eat Pray Love fashion line by Sue Wong.
- And while they’re at it, why not accessorize with Eat Pray Love jewelry from Dogeared?
- A tie-in fragrance line offers you the chance to represent yourself with one of three aromas inspired by Gilbert’s travels: sugary-smelling ‘Eat’, warm and spicy ‘Pray’, or tropical-floral ‘Love’.
- If you’ve been saving your pennies, you may be able to afford a package tour to invoke the Eat Pray Love journey, if not in its original year-long form.
And I have to admit, what drives me craziest is how much some of this stuff appeals to me! Haven’t I been looking for meditation bells since I started studying mindfulness? Wouldn’t it be neat to have one of these compass-shaped charm bracelets? Or a meditation wrap?
Let’s be honest – right now, I’m not blogging. I’m Christmas-shopping. For myself.
These are meaningful spiritual symbols for some people. For others, they’re movie tie-ins. They’re a way to tie in to a fad . . . but they also represent a real spiritual desire that the movie is tapping into. Elizabeth Gilbert found fulfillment and discovered who she really was by going on this fantastic journey. You can never do that . . . but maybe if you wear ‘Pray’ fragrance or drink the Eat Pray Love tea, you can at least have a little bit of that experience, a little bit of that fulfillment.
Ultimately, I can’t help feeling as if the Eat Pray Love movie logo cheapens the search for meaning. And yet, at the same time, could it also be a compass for some women who might not otherwise connect with these paths to spiritual fulfillment? It could, but I fear that we live in a society that tries to collapse long processes into shorter time frames. If Julia Roberts can find peace and enlightenment in a two-hour movie, shouldn’t I be able to manage it?I want to embrace the movie as a signpost on the path to enlightenment, but I’m worried about how easy it is for us to mistake a signpost for the final destination.
Years of serious meditation practice is too much work. I’ll by an OM bracelet instead.