Guest Post – A Flight Attendant Speaks on “Eat Pray Love”

by brian on August 25, 2010

Today’s guest post is from flight attendant Janice, who shares a perspective on Elizabeth Gilbert’s travel memoir movie “Eat Pray Love” that many women have. Have you seen the movie? Have you read the book? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

After my flying the Detroit Shuttle yesterday, I decided to stop downtown to catch the movie Eat Pray Love. No I have not read the book yet. I know most people read the book and then see the movie. Well I am different. I am seeing the movie first then I will read the book.

I connected with Julia Roberts character Liz on so many levels.

My first connection was with the box. Her box of dreams, Liz collected photos and articles of all the places she wanted to visit.

I started creating my box of dreams after my sophomore year of high school. My sister and I were unable to go to Paris for spring break with Madame Susan Tartare’s French class from Luther South. This was my defining moment to start collecting everything I could about Paris. I began collecting the Chicago Tribune and Suntimes Travel Section. I read travel articles about Paris. I watched the airfares and followed the currency (french franc).

Each time that Madame Susan Tartare show our french class about a film about Paris or France, I visualized myself there. This created a burning desire so deep inside of me. I focused on my dream for the seven years during high school and college.

The second connection I had with Liz was her description of feeling dead, no pulse. The experience of travel definitely brings one alive. That is the reason for me being a flight attendant. I feel alive when I view the beauty of earth from above. I feel alive when I interact with people of other cultures. I feel alive when I hear the languages of other tongues. Something resonates within my soul. I come alive. I feel the emotions of the languages spiritually connecting within me.

My third connection with Liz was that she was a woman traveling solo. I left my home two days after I graduated from Mundelein College to fly to Paris. I left solo. I did not know anyone in Paris. The only thing I knew was where I would be living for the next year. I had no friends, no job, nothing but my dreams. I chose to live at L’UNCF which is similar to a YWCA.

Please enjoy the photos from my return to Paris in October 2009 at http://skychitravels.blogspot.com

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave and Deb August 28, 2010 at 8:36 PM

I read the book but haven’t seen the movie. I didn’t really have a desire to see Eat Pray Love, but maybe I will give it a shot.

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Shannon OD August 29, 2010 at 12:31 PM

I actually enjoyed the movie and the book – they are a lovely memoir of how one woman was able to find her own way to explore the world. And although there is controversy over it, I think it’s an enjoyable journey through the movie and loved all of the on-location shots to inspire some wander-lust!

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Quinnette August 30, 2010 at 12:36 AM

I LLLOVED the book and liked the movie! I went solo around the world a couple of years ago for different reasons. My mother died when I was 21 (I am now in my 40s) and I used every day since then to live each day to the fullest and fulfill every fantasy in my life. While I didn’t have the issues that Liz did, I certainly identified with her love of Italy and how it consumes you. I love the spirit, the food, the language of the country.
I would have liked to have seen her explore more of India and her Bali for me was Koh Tao in Thailand. I have heard her say that it was not necessary to travel to learn the lessons she did, but I disagree. I think being outside your element, with no familiarity changes you in ways that you never thought possible.
My mom used to say “you can never come home”, which I always thought was ridiculous. I would say “WHAT? You are not going to let me come back home once I move out?” I later came to understand that the person that comes back is not the same person that left.

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David@ Budget Hotels August 30, 2010 at 7:15 PM

Its my favorite book “Eat Pray Love”. I was looking forward to The Lovely Bones, but it kind of disappointed me, especially the ending. It feels like it sort of … peters out, I guess. Eat Pray Love is feel-good without being sappy or cheesy, and it gets at some very “human” issues (as does Lovely Bones, but in a different way). And also I was looking for the last few sentences in the last scene in the movie adaptation of Eat Pray Love.

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Jodi (Legal Nomads) August 31, 2010 at 10:49 AM

As a corporate lawyer working in NY who left her job to travel, I can also relate to Elizabeth Gilbert’s eternal longing for elsewhere and her restlessness – but my ability to empathize with her does not translate into loving the book or the movie. The book’s biggest flaw lies in the marketing and not in the writing itself; EG has been excoriated in the press for her “priv-lit” style and her selfishness but she has been extremely adamant about how personal her experiences are and how her book was not meant to be extrapolated to the general population. Unfortunately, once the book was taken up by Oprah, it was labeled as a travel memoir and as an inspiration, which is both disingenuous and unrealistic. The book was a memoir, and a powerful story about a woman who made some very personal choices to find out what made her happy. It should not be taken as a “how-to” of finding yourself, and the sheer volume of women tracing her steps to a T is frightening.

Don’t even get me started on the movie. Having read the book, I thought the movie was horrible. The story contained huge gaps – gaps that were filled in by the book, the arc was stilted and the characters wholly underdeveloped. Eg. the book contains a long lead-up to why she left her husband and NY and how fully she tortured herself about those decisions. The movie made it look easy for her, made her shallower as a person than the person in her prose.

I appreciate how hard it must have been to take a complicated story and reduce it to a movie, but I think the producers did an awful job. EG comes out of this movie looking two dimensional and selfish; the character in the movie plays into some fairly damaging stereotypes about women as a whole. Instead of coming across as a story about a woman bucking the expectations of society, it comes across as whiny and lacking in emotional depth.

Sorry to make this so long – just a counterpoint to some of the other thoughts in the comments.
-Jodi

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