Benny's World

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Yesterday morning, I read Roger Ebert's review of the new release, Eat Pray Love. (The link is from Oprah's site, in which she was given permission by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author who wrote the book of the same title) He gave it a thumbs down, as he believed it was too narcissistic. There have been movies that I disagreed with him when he liked them and I didn't. My interpretation of his review is that he dismissed this film as a chick flick. Thus, I decided to go see it on my own, knowing that Mr. Benny wasn't likely to have much interest in it right now--and it may be out of town by the time Mr. Benny comes to visit.

The film was very well done. I think Julia Roberts was perfect for the part, and it's very much a Julia film, whereby Julia's characters generally lose themselves in men and run away from them in fear, but move towards of finding out about herselves (if there is such a word). I bought the paperback today because I know quite a bit of the movie used direct quotes in the script from the narration that Roberts has to perform. And some of those quotes resonated with me, one of them being "Attraversiamo" which is Italian for "Let's Cross Over."

I guess I liked the movie because it was a 21st century look at the conflict of feminism and being feminine. What I mean by that is I was influenced by the ERA phenomenon, driven by the feminists such Gloria Steinem. It was important for a woman to be strong and show solidarity with those who had been denied opportunities because of dominant male world. To this day, that is why civil rights are important and why I also believe in marriage equality.

The first time that this conflict really resonated with me in a visual art form was Wendy Wasserstein's 1988 Tony Award winning play, The Heidi Chronicles. Heidi searches for her soul, but undergoes many conflicts with Scoop, the man she loves but wants her to be submissive. They eventually part company, and Heidi eventually finds self-fulfillment, in being a mother and not needing even a partner to help raise her child. At the time, the play resonated with me because of the pain of a breakup with a college love. I had thought he was the "one" in my life. And it took me many years to understand why I was not the one or that we were too young to know what we really wanted.

Cue Eat Pray Love. It's a memoir of a mid-30's person who loses herself in her marriage and decides to end it. In doing so, she makes the mistake of getting involved with an actor in her play and moves in with him too soon. She goes to an Ashram with him and is electrified by the experience--as well as unnerved--and that is the part of the relationship that she takes with her once she realizes she has not been her own person. Using her gift for writing, she elicits an advance on a book about traveling in Italy, India, and Bali, spending 4 months in each place. In Italy, she indulges in the aesthetic pleasures of eating, drinking wine, and seeing wonderful architecture. In India, she stays at a Ashram, learning the discipline of worship--both to her God--and of her inner self. She also gets called on the carpet many times by her friend Richard, for taking short cuts instead of doing the work. Her last of her journey takes her to Bali, where she had been a year ago, and when she had been very unhappy. Bali is a beautiful place and she is encouraged to bringing together her indulgences for a life balance. Only when she confronts how she can maintain this balance is when she cracks open her heart to the possibly of sharing herself with another man. She is frightened again of being lost, but is reassured with these words from her Balinese friends: "To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life."

(At that part of the movie, most of the older women, including yours truly, were in tears).

So the comparison to Heidi is easy: both are comfortable about being silent or alone at times. The contrast is that Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts' character) has decided that she can be alone and be in a relationship--her balance.

The movie is beautiful in the filming, and I was taken back in time of when I went to Italy for a week and for the Bali segment, it sort of reminded me of Caines, Australia.

In crossing over, I hope that I can learn from some of the insights that Gilbert has provided. One inspiration today, and this is something Elizabeth Edwards did (yes readers, there is an Edwards hook this post) and that was to say good bye to the man she was married to. It was painful for her to do so, but it was the only way to find some peace. I joined her in a sense that symbolically, I finally said good-bye to John Edwards too, but in my case, the short-lived career politician. I had three yard signs in my garage that were from the 2008 campaign and I recycled them this morning. I had held on to them because of what the campaign represented to me, economic and social justice for One America. Those ideals will always stay with me, and as I have repeated many times, I have no regrets about as the thousands of hours of volunteer time I spent between 2004 and 2008 of blogging, helping taking care of the Edwardses' websites. Elizabeth put it this way to the campaign workers after John left the race--as described in her new chapter of Resilience:
The race is over for John, and in most ways it would seem that your efforts for his candidacy were for nothing, but that is not right, When some mentions health care, remember that your work got out the first health care plan among these candidates and set the bar for what they would have to say...and pat yourself on the back."

Well, we haven't seen them in the way we've wanted, but Elizabeth is right in general.

Yes, John Edwards misused a lot of money on that mistress of his and got lost in his own mirror of who he was or said he was. Like Elizabeth, I did believe in that John, and I was "seeing what you wanted to see, what you needed to be the truth. Believe in people is what we should do.." and her other words, which connect me to Gilbert's lesson, "Living and believing and loving are not a waste."

Ironic that new chapter of Resilience was written shortly after I saw Elizabeth last.

I hope to strike that balance that Elizabeth Gilbert has found (with Mr. Benny) and an inner peace of a transformed Elizabeth Edwards is uncovering in being alone at times.

Gilbert has said that many women have taken to her book because they know what it is like to be disappointed, to have disappointed themselves, and disappointed someone else. I think if Roger Ebert would have read the book, as he did not, he might have picked up on that theme.

Readers will note I have put away John's picture and have changed my theme--just slightly--to reflect "attraversiamo"--the cross over to what is really my world.

Do see the movie, Eat Pray Love.


Update: due to some a-holes by acting like Fox News regulars who believe I am "sick" by admitting family problems and learning from mistakes--and how these same folks despise the Edwards family, I have removed the more intimate parts of this post. I'm not afraid for myself, but I dislike it when these same jokers refuse to be honest about why they attack me otherwise without any substance--and I will do no harm to my friends from the Edwards campaign. Obviously, intimacy is an issue for them. They are just interested in being a-holes.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,