Many people believe if they could dash their mundane lives for more adventurous, exciting fare, all would be right in their worlds. I believe this is the root of the mid-life crisis. It also is behind the popularity of books like Elizabeth Gilbert’s New York Times Bestseller Eat, Pray, Love in which our unhappy thirty-something heroine embarks on a year-long journey around the globe in search of self. I’ve heard many long to do something similar and lament that they don’t have the resources: Time, money, or ability to chuck responsibility.
Women and men alike relate to Gilbert’s story, in which she escapes a marriage that no longer works for her, rescinds all possessions reminiscent of her suburban New York life, and does what most women only dream of (even if they won’t admit it): Focuses on herself. Typical reactions to this memoir are complete enthrall at the whimsy of it all, or utter disgust at the “selfishness” of Gilbert’s actions.
The highly-popular book eventually was made into a movie of the same name, with Julia Roberts playing Gilbert, and offering amazing cinematography of lush landscapes in historic locales. Many-a-housewife and –businesswoman alike have swooned over the beauty of the moving pictures, emoting longing to discover such imaginative places and lose themselves in the splendor of it all.
But what may not have occurred to them is we can do that all right here, at home, wherever you are. Finding ourselves, looking for peace or exploring the meaning in our lives doesn’t take a bank account full of money, a global wanderlust, or inordinate amounts of time—all that’s necessary is intention.
One may not be able to leave your kids to undertake a year- or even month-long voyage, but you can find a babysitter—perhaps an aunt, grandparent or brother—for a couple of hours, or even a weekend. Yes, Bali provides inherently deliciously provocative scenery, but so do the mountains and cities of Colorado…perhaps it’s time to discover the Royal Gorge, visit Fort Collins, Aspen, Vail, Telluride, or discover Denver’s own Red Rocks Amphitheatre and lose yourself in the splendor of the outdoors.
A decadent day of dining at local eateries like “Stella’s” in North Denver’s Highlands, or even the trattoria at select Whole Foods can leave you feeling satiated and full of comfort. While myriad options for spiritual renewal from elegant to contemporary churches, Synagogues or even a yoga retreat can leave one feeling centered, grounded and revived.
So while an experience like Gilbert’s in Eat, Pray, Love can be enormous and life-changing – who says you can’t effect such change in your own life – without the cost or consumption of time? For those who loved the book’s seemingly self-absorbed focus, along with those who found it much too narcissistic, the message is clear—by taking time to discover who we truly are, and what you want and/or need out of life, we can create the life of our dreams, while enhancing the lives of those around us.