I have not been able to feel bored as there are always books that I want to read and projects I want to work on. There are so many good books too little time. Amidst my work and commitments, I need to fit in reading and writing and every day feels like a race. THIS IS THE STORY OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE, a memoir by Ann Patchett tells about how she manages the balance in her life between writing and all that matters in her life. Ann Patchett has the right aptitude and resolve. I enjoy all the insights that she shares with her readers.
Finding the right balance between what we love to do and what needs to be done is a constant challenge. But what if what we love to do is actually what needs to be done?
One afternoon, a man walked into my office seeking some legal advice. He was troubled as his wife of thirty years had taken off and she had decided to stay away from the family. When confronted, she told him that she had done enough for him and their three children who had since grown up, the youngest son seventeen going on to eighteen. He reiterated that he had been a good husband as he did not have any extra-marital affairs. He disclosed that he had regularly gone for drinks with the boys and frequented karoeke lounges and whenever he stayed out late, his wife used to telephone him and wondered about those women at such joints. After hearing his narration, it sounded like he wanted the wife to continue feeling needy and insecure. Now that his wife had decided to make a change in her dreary life, he was terribly upset and accused her of not thinking about the family. And to top it all, he blamed her new woman friend who had brought about the change in her attitude that subsequently caused the disruption in his family life.
Women on a quest for change and freedom is a common theme. Elizabeth Gilbert had written the memoir “ Eat Pray Love” about her year of travel that ended up in her meeting her present husband, a wonderful love story. In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything most women were supposed to want-husband, country home and successful career. Instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt confused and depressed. She divorced her husband and went on a trip to Italy, India and Indonesia.
As it is a self- discovery voyage, Gilbert may at times ramble on a bit and sound self- absorbed. Nonetheless the book is a page turner and the characters that she has met during her travel are colourful and fiction like. Her narration is for the most part lively and come across as sincere and honest.
This is an extract from what she wrote about her experience on meditation .
‘When I tried this morning, after an hour or so of unhappy thinking , to dip back into my meditation. I took a new idea with me : compassion. I asked my heart if it could please infuse my soul with a more generous perspective on my mind’s workings. Instead of thinking that I was a failure, could I perhaps accept that I am only a human being- and a normal one, at that ? The thoughts came up as usual –OK, so it will be -and then the attendant emotions rose, too. I began feeling frustrated and judgmental about myself, lonely and angry. But then a fierce response boiled up from somewhere in the deepest caverns of my heart, and I told myself, “ I will not judge you for these thoughts.”
My mind tried to protest, said, “ Yeah, but you ‘re such a failure, you ‘re such a loser, you’ll never amount to anything -”
But suddenly it was like a lion was roaring from within my chest, drowning all this claptrap out. A voice bellowed in me like nothing I had ever heard before. It was so internally, eternally loud that I actually clamped my hand over my mouth because I was afraid that if I opened my mouth and let this sound out, it would shake the foundations of buildings as far away as Detroit.”
And this is what it roared:
YOU HAVE NO IDEA
HOW STRONG MY LOVE IS !!!!!!!!
‘The chattering, negative thoughts in my mind scattered in the wind of this statement like birds and jackrabbits and antelopes – they hightailed it out of there, terrified. Silence followed. An intense , vibrating ,awed silence. The lion in the giant savannah of my heart surveyed his newly quiet kingdom with satisfaction. He licked his great chips once, closed his yellow eyes and went back to sleep.
And then , in that regal silence, finally – I began to mediate on ( and with ) God.’
Gilbert did come across as someone who had an unlimited reserve of good luck as she embarked on her self-discovery journey from eating and learning Italian in Italy to spending six weeks at an Ashram in India with a view to seek inner peace through meditation and subsequently heading to Bali for the remaining part of her sojourn. As most of us know that we do not have neither the resources nor the courage to make such a trip of a lifetime, the memoir definitely makes a fun and inspiring read.