Jeans not zipping up, girls not worrying about obesity, and pursuing simply platonic relationships are answers to Liz’s prayers in Eat, Pray, Love. Looking for mana or spirituality are prerequisites for Cousineau’s travels to Easter Island’s maoi in Myth of Travel. The stories behind Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Myth of Travel by Cousineau relate very well to modern people’s reasons for travelling.
Cousineau described the lure of The Mania For Mana as modern people visiting the maoi on Easter Island in order to envision the Polynesian archipelago’s past kings who inherited a spark of the divine power of the gods'”the mana. The maoi or stone figures might somehow enable visitors to Easter Island to be able to learn firsthand and perhaps experience the religion of the birdman cult. Cousineau believes that we may “learn to see again like the blind poet” if we travel to this island and learn firsthand of their beliefs in mana, or “mysterious spiritual force.” (Cousineau, p. 179-180)
Liz was married and planning on having a child with her husband, but she just did not get pregnant. She realized that she was very unhappy. Many people of different myths and religions believe in the power of prayer to their Creator or God, and Liz was no different. She began praying aloud while alone, asking God what she should do. She told God that she was sorry she had not prayed to him before, and she thanked God for all her blessings as she cried out to him in anguish. Then she returned to speak to her husband in bed; as he turned to her to tell her he didn’t want to go to Aruba with her as she had told him she wanted him to do, she told him she no longer wanted to be married.
She told her girlfriend that she decided that she no longer wanted to be married nor to have a baby, but would rather travel to learn more about herself and her relationships. Liz explained that while her girlfriend had collected a box of baby items, waiting for the moment when her husband would be ready to have a baby, she had collected a boxful of National Geographic magazines. Liz told her girlfriend that she felt she had lost herself, including her appetite and zest for life, and that she needed one year to regain herself. Despite her friend’s debating that she probably should just see a shrink and that she should be writing, her friend finally agreed that it might be a good idea when Liz added that she wanted to spend some time on Bali at the end of the year.
Many people would love to go visit a “ninth-generation medicine man,” as she did in Bali, but first Liz headed to Italy apparently to regain her enjoyment of foods, by eating all the delicious, authentic Italian food, seeing the ruins, and experiencing a strictly platonic relationship. She didn’t want to worry about getting “obese or having relationships with males” as she told her new friend, Sofia. It was interesting that she did decide to take Italian lessons from a
very handsome man in the movie, and they just became good friends and not lovers. She quickly avoided a sexual relationship with the band member at the beach later also.
She and her girlfriend enjoyed all the delicious Italian food, especially in the pizza scene, where they apparently planned to each devour an entire pizza'”thus the eating or appetite that was paramount to the title of the story. I
especially enjoyed the fact that Liz put aside her previous worries about
becoming obese, and even planned a girl’s day out to shop for “bigger jeans.” There are times when many people just can’t seem to help avoiding gaining a bit of weight–when traveling and tasting new fare and during holiday seasons especially. But apparently this was something that Liz had not done for many years, as she had exasperatedly stated that she had been either with a man or leaving a man for her whole life since she was fifteen years’ old.
When people in our modern culture travel, many people tend to gorge themselves on delicious buffet food and/or dinners with desserts every night. Liz including this factor in her Eat Pray Love was definitely truly a part of our culture and travel habits! The scene where Liz and her girlfriend lie down on the fitting room floor in order to zip up their jeans is really hysterical and probably reminded many of her audience of when they may have done something comical like this themselves, plus it provided comic relief.
When Liz visited the medicine man, Ketut, in Bali, he told her that she will come back to stay at his place for three or four months to teach him English. He told her he has never had anyone to work with him to learn English and that basically in return, he will tell her everything that he knows. She later told her friends that she considered this a prediction that she should follow through on. She continued to have flashbacks of her husband and her marriage, and Richard and Ketut helped her through these rough periods.
Traveling to Italy, India and Bali to live amongst their cultures was a very big step for Liz’s character. She was an established writer with a great apartment, a summer home, a handsome husband, and a very good Black girlfriend who hugged her, allowed her to stay briefly with her and her family, wished her well, and whom she knew would miss her. Obviously, not everyone could afford to live abroad in a new country, try to find themselves, and then leave their new friends and travel on to two other countries for a whole year the way that Liz did. She actually was courageous in that respect.
The scenes where other women, including the Italian older woman in the dinner scene before Liz left Italy, often seemed to include the statements about women needing to have a man or needing to at least have sex. One
older Italian woman had explained that the only permanency in life is family and life. I know that many women say they don’t worry about being spinsters, but from the movie Eat Pray Love, I would say that many women still believe they need to be in a serious relationship the majority of the time.
Many Americans do believe in the dream that they will travel and meet the perfect mate and live happily ever after, so it was refreshing to see that Liz was determined to live abroad, enjoy all the different cultural foods and meditate and grow mentally as Richard and Ketut tried to teach her. It was disappointing to me that more time was not spent on showing the natural wonders or ruins in the countries she visited because the scenery was beautiful. Liz compared the ruins of the Coliseum in Italy to the ruins of her life and relationships and her positive life transformation just as Cousineau compared the visits to Eastern Island’s moai as benefiting visitors. Liz said that she learned something very important by travelling abroad for a year–that if she could forgive others and herself and learn from other people as her teachers, she could get through her transformation and be herself.
Many people visit amusement parks, like Disneyland and Disney World, especially with children, and also Epcot Center to educate and entertain their young, but many people with higher mental aspirations like to visit museums and cultural centers. Julia, however, seemed to be trying to focus on meditation to almost the exclusion of sexual and love relationships, but eventually Ketut, the medicine man, pointed out to her that sometimes one has to put their prayer or meditation on hold. He told Liz to allow herself to fall in love and be “off balance” for awhile in order for her new love relationship to flourish.
Ketut was a good mentor as was Richard, who tried very hard to teach her to “look within” to meditate and let the world in. I remember that one female friend did say that she admired Julia and called her “courageous” for trying to find herself and start over by going abroad for a year. When she met Felipe in Bali, she was not quite ready to have a serious love and sexual relationship until Ketut told her to allow herself to meditate and pray to strengthen your mind, and to love and enjoy that love, sexually and as a friend. Her mentors, like Sofia and her boyfriend as well as her other friends in Italy, India and Bali taught Liz to find that special place in her life for that special someone so that she could not only have her career, but also have a special place in her heart for her soul mate!
Also, it was nice to see Liz finally settle down with one very eligible and handsome bachelor in the final scenes of the movie rather than run away from all the men interested in her. Of course, it did seem that Felipe was a very good choice as a mate for Liz since he was very considerate in suggesting that she would not have to give up her home in New York, but that she could also come to Bali to be with him and have both as homes. She also considered him cute and sweet. So, it would seem, she could have the best of both worlds. It would be so nice for all women to have all these options!
In comparison to Liz in the movie Eat, Pray, Love, although I learned Hatha Yoga when I was a teenager, and I believed in the power of meditation and yoga posture practice, I never believed that a medicine man or guru would teach you everything he knew. I do believe that many affluent people think that they can and so they travel to visit one. I did, however, believe that you can learn a lot about yourself by taking the time to do the postures in order to grow stronger and heal physically and that through meditation practice on almost a daily basis, one can grow stronger mentally and possibly even succeed in life. This seems to be pretty close to what Liz believed in this movie.
Visiting a cultural site like the Easter Island maoi, would be attractive to me because I am very interested in other cultures. Cousineau describes the allure of visiting the Eastern island culture and the maoi plus the description of the vision of the light appearing at times to be emanating from the eye sockets of the statues as intriguing. I would be very likely to visit Easter Island if I were given the chance. A trip like that reminds me of my frequent visits to churches and temples in different places I’ve lived.
During one visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, there was an Irish musical concert with a harp and other beautiful-sounding instruments that made the service afterwards all the more special and gratifying. Although St. Patrick’s Cathedral is nowhere near as old a religious structure, the feeling I had as I participated in the mass and listened to the religious music seemed to compare with the hair-raising feeling that Cousineau said he experienced at Easter Island’s maoi.
Cousineau’s mentor, Joseph Campbell, and Liz’s mentor, Ketut, reminded me that I have had many mentors, former religious teachers as well as relatives and friends’ parents, who have helped me to go through transformations to become myself today. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Ciapetta, who encouraged me to stay after school and paint posters, to my high school teacher, Sister Pearl, who tutored me in business math, and Josephine who taught me to cook Italian food for my family and friends when my father died'”they have all helped me become a better adult who loves to learn, entertain, and to teach and encourage other people to grow.
Gilbert, E. (2010) Eat Pray Love (the movie)
Cousineau, P. (2001) Once and Future Myths, Ch. 4 The Myth of Travel. Conari Press. Print.