Every now and then a book enters into our lives and changes everything. It’s as if the universe knows what we need at that exact moment and the clouds begin to part ways, the wind becomes still and the book is handed to us right out of the sky (often already scribbled in with the best lessons dog-eared).
I fell in love with books at an early age - what kid doesn’t love to read after all bu,t for me books were (and still are) my best friends. I often become emotionally invested with the characters so much that I have been known to pick up their habits (good and bad).
Today I read a passage in a book that took my breath away. I had to put the book down and look around to see if anyone was watching me and/or if I was being filmed for a science experiment. Then I read the paragraphs again and then again, until I was reciting what I just read in whispers to myself.
I could not believe it. It struck me so much that I wanted to share it with everyone. I just couldn’t believe what was I reading. This book, mind you, is what I would consider “fluff” literature. I bought the book years ago while at the beach and never read it. Something made me pick it up though and once I did, I couldn’t put it down.
I am going to share this passage from the book in lieu of a post today because if you have not read this book, you will learn from this passage. And this is not just for women fellas - this is just perfect.
To set the stage, the main character is the author herself, Elizabeth Gilbert. She is in India at an Ashram and talking to one of her fellow devotees. His name is Richard from Texas and her calls her “groceries.” She was upset because her morning meditation went badly and she was in a foul mood because a lot of old, bad thoughts surfaced. Hopefully the rest makes sense and you fall in love with her as I did in these paragraphs.
“What’s got you all wadded up?” he drawls, toothpick in mouth, as usual.
“Don’t ask,” I say, but then I start talking and tell him every bit of it, concluding with, “And worst of all, I can’t stop obsessing over David. I thought I was over him, but it’s all coming up again.”
He says, “Give it another six months, you’ll feel better.”
“I’ve already given it twelve months, Richard.”
“Then give it six more. Just keep throwin’ six months at it till it goes away. Stuff like this takes time.”
I exhale hotly through my nose, bull-like.
“Groceries,” Richard says, “listen to me. Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment
of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing and you were in the best possible place in the world for it — in a beautiful place of worship, surrounded by grace. Take this time, every minute of it. Let things work themselves out here in India.”
“But I really loved him.”
“Big deal. So you fell in love with someone. Don’t you see what happened? This guy touched a place in your heart deeper than you thought you were capable of reaching, I mean you got zapped, kiddo. But that love you felt, that’s just the beginning. You just got a taste of love. That’s just limited little rinky-dink mortal love. Wait till you see how much more deeply you can love than that. Heck, Groceries — you have the capacity to someday love the whole world. It’s your destiny. Don’t laugh.”
“I’m not laughing.” I was actually crying. “And please don’t laugh at me now, but I think the reason it’s so hard for me to get over this guy is because I seriously believed David was my soul mate.”
“He probably was. Your problem is you don’t understand what that word means. 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’s 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 they leave. And thank God for it. Your problem is, you just can’t let this one go. It’s over, Groceries. David’s purpose was to shake you up, drive you out of that marriage that you needed to leave, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you had to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master and beat it. That was his job, and he did great, but now it’s over. Problem is, you can’t accept that this relationship had a real short shelf life. You’re like a dog at the dump, baby — you’re just lickin’ at an empty tin can, trying to get more nutrition out of it. And if you’re not careful, that can’s gonna get stuck on your snout forever and make your life miserable. So drop it.”
“But I love him.”
“So love him.”
“But I miss him.”
“So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, and then drop it. You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of David because then you’ll really be alone, and Liz Gilbert is scared to death of what will happen if she’s really alone. But here’s what you gotta understand, Groceries. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot — a door-way. And guess what the universe will do with that doorway? It will rush in — God will rush in — and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed. So stop using David to block that door. Let it go.”
“But I wish me and David could — “
He cuts me off. “See, now that’s your problem. You’re wishin’ too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.”
This line gives me the first laugh of the day.
Then I ask Richard, “So how long will it be before all this grieving passes?”
“You want an exact date?”
“Somethin’ you can circle on your calendar?”
“Lemme tell you something, Groceries — you got some serious control issues.”
My rage at this statement consumes me like fire. Control issues? ME? I actually consider slapping Richard for this insult. And then, from right down inside the intensity of my offended outrage comes the truth. The immediate, obvious, laughable truth.
He’s totally right.
The fire passes out of me, fast as it came.
“You’re totally right,” I say.
“I know I’m right, baby. Listen, you’re a powerful woman and you’re used to getting what you want out of life, and you didn’t get what you wanted in your last few relationships and it’s got you all jammed up. Your husband didn’t behave the way you wanted him to and David didn’t either. Life didn’t go your way for once. And nothing pisses off a control freak more than life not goin’ her way.”
“Don’t call me a control freak, please.”
“You have got control issues, Groceries. Come on. Nobody ever told you this before?”
(Well … yeah. But the thing about divorcing someone is that you kind of stop listening to all the mean stuff they say about you after a while.)
So I buck up and admit it. “OK, I think you’re probably right. Maybe I do have a problem with control. It’s just weird that you noticed. Because I don’t think it’s that obvious on the surface. I mean — I bet most people can’t see my control issues when they first look at me.”
Richard from Texas laughs so hard he almost loses his toothpick.
“They can’t? Honey — Ray Charles could see your control issues!”
“OK, I think I’m done with this conversation now, thank you.”
“You gotta learn how to let go, Groceries. Otherwise you’re gonna make yourself sick. Never gonna have a good night’s sleep again. You’ll just toss and turn forever, beatin’ onyourself for being such a fiasco in life. What’s wrong with me? How come I screw up all my relationships? Why am I such a failure? Lemme guess — that’s probably what you were up at all hours doin’ to yourself again last night.”
“All right, Richard, that’s enough,” I say. “I don’t want you walking around inside my head anymore.”
“Shut the door, then,” says my big Texas Yogi.