On hunger and happiness

No, these two things aren't related.

But I was reading the book "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert (which I am enjoying immensely and hence not doing the grading I really should be doing), and I was at the end of the "Eat" section. The author is traveling to Italy, where she stays in Rome for 4 months, learning Italian and beginning to heal her depression. There are many memorable passages, but the section ends with this:

It was in a bathtub back in New York, reading Italian words aloud from a dictionary, that I first started mending my soul. My life had gone to bits and I was so unrecognizable to myself that I probably couldn't have picked me out of a police lineup. But I felt a glimmer of happiness when I started studying Italian, and when you sense a faint potentiality for happiness after such dark times you must grab onto the ankles of that happiness and not let go until it drags you face-first out of the dirt- this is not selfishness, but obligation. You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.

I came to Italy pinched and thin. I did not know yet what I deserved. I still maybe don't fully know what I deserve. But I do know that I have collected myself of late- through the enjoyment of harmless pleasures- into somebody much more intact. The easiest, most fundamentally human way to say it is that I have put on weight. I exist more now than I did four months ago. I will leave Italy noticeably bigger than when I arrived here. And I will leave with the hope that the expansion of one person- the magnification of one life- is indeed an act of worth in this world. Even if that life, just this one time, happens to be nobody's but my own.

All of the bold parts are my emphasis.

So go read this book. You'll love it.

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mary said...

Very inspiring words!

I recall telling you that we'd drag you kicking and screaming into recovery if we had to. Eating gelato. (ok...didn't say that but I hear it's delicious and Italian)
There's some valuable life lessons in recovery. Take care of yourself. Fall in love with yourself. You'll like others better and you be way ahead of where you began.
Stay on the path. /*****

Laura Collins said...

That book is so good. Wierd story: I finished that book and days later was making an Amtrak reservation by phone. The reservationist was telling me all the cool people he'd booked in his career. And he brought up Gilbert! Too cool.

Keep eating, praying, and loving!

Sarah said...

Oh, I loved that book. I'm glad it is meaningful to you, too.


carrie said...


Actually, the author *did* eat a lot of gelato. Pistacio (sp?) is delicious. They have that flavor of ice cream at Coldstone too.


Did you ever get to read "Julie and Julia"?


I guess I'm in good company, huh?


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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at carrie@edbites.com

nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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