I read Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia years ago and have only read it once, but I have picked up one very important practice from reading the book. I’ve tried to answer this question that Elizabeth Gilbert, the author, posed to her readers as an after thought to the soul-searching she chronicled in her book: “What do I really, really, really want?”
I am now on my third journal and am into my fourth or fifth entry in a new notebook. A good amount of time and many life events and decisions have passed between the journals, and even I have found the change in my answers and state of mind quite enlightening. I know that a lot has changed between 2012 and now– both in my personal circumstances and the world in general around me, and it has been quite a journey. It is in looking back at the answers I had written — not necessarily the journal entries per se — that I have seen such a marked difference in the way I used to think and the way I am now.
The very stark difference between what I wanted then and what I want now gives me pause to reflect on how my feelings have changed since I first started answering the question. I had made it a point to just go over the answers and make a visual summary from time to time, but at this point, I don’t think I’m ready to read my entries in depth just yet. I am, however, ready to continue answering the question in the “now”.
Gilbert says you have to repeat the “really” three times to stress that it has to be something you truly want — as against something you might “maybe want” or “half want.” It must also be something spontaneous after asking the question. This time around, I’ve taken to doing a bit of art around each entry. Whether it is to draw a border around the page or color in the lettering of either the question or the answer, or to add some graphic I intend to fill in with color later on, each additional time soent embellishing the page gives me a chance to reflect deeper into my answer. Sometimes the succeeding blurb is a sentence or two only. Sometimes it fills the whole page. Again, the key is spontaneity.
Answering the question when I write on that journal’s pages is like an ongoing essay that gets written a bit at a time with each entry. And when I go back to read them all, I’m supposed to find my answer from the very words I’d written.