Elizabeth Gilbert’s memorable memoir Eat, Pray, Love is the story of a woman’s search for love and freedom miles away from her home, in foreign lands. While the desire to travel and be like Gilbert might be hidden in all of us, not everyone can afford the time and resources to head anywhere. But that doesn’t mean the search for love and freedom stops there, on the contrary home is the best place to begin. The idea rests on the understanding that the place we live in is invariably the closest, more or less most comfortable environment available and plays a key role in shaping our lives. This is not an epic journey on the road of self-discovery we’re talking about. It’s very much rooted in our daily lives as ordinary people. It’s about taking on life right from where it begins – your home.
For the Family
For those of you who live with their families, be it parents, grandparents or your spouse and children, home is where the heart is. If your relationship with your family has sustained over the years and grown stronger, then you must value it as much as you can. In today’s world, people have learnt to live away from their families for a variety of reasons, often not by choice. Our search for a secure environment and a free self is incomplete until we can be at peace with our families and the relationships which have defined us from day one. So before we move onto bigger questions of life and existence, to finding freedom in the outside world, we need to find it in ourselves. The first step towards it is finding time for your family. When we talk of home, we don’t necessarily mean the physical space you live in, but the space where you can connect emotionally.
Love Thy City
The city or town we live in is the most immediate physical environment we have. Be it the city you were born and brought up in, or the place you got posted for work, it is the best life is offering you at the moment, so try not to be in a state of constant dislike for the place you live in. This happens to a lot of us, and can go easily unnoticed too. Our dislike for the place we live in can trickle down to our very personal lives and affect our mood and relationships, conversations and even productivity. Go by the motto of “Love thy city” and even if that’s not the exact emotion you feel, strive for it. Be open to people and experiences in your city and make the most of it. No matter how small it is, you can never run out of options if you go looking for them. Similarly, no matter how big it is, there’s always a niche one can find over time. Your relationship with your city can define the way you think. If you remain caught up in the physical aspects of your environment, you cannot be truly free.
An essential step is your search for love and freedom is to explore more. The importance of experience is stressed enough in Gilbert’s story as well, and one cannot deny the impact something new can make on us. Now this does not have to be a spa experience in Bali or pilgrimage in India. It can be in the small things one is always surrounded by but fails to notice. Try out an entirely new cuisine or join a friend in learning a martial art or learning a new skill. Be warned, the magical epiphany you’re looking for, the sudden burst of freedom and realization will not come because this is not something one finds overnight. It might not even be something one ever finds consciously. To the contemporary man or woman, freedom is all around because we were born in free countries. But is that all there is to freedom? When you explore more and meet people in your own neighborhood and city, you make new connections and if you can find something positive to take back from every conversation you have or every new experience you try, then you’re on the right path.
Catch up with Spirituality
Gilbert’s trip to India is defining in terms of the spiritual experiences she has and the way she connects with her inner self through them. Now, spirituality has different meanings for different people. Some might be open to it; some might instantly oppose or pass it off as a waste of time. However, if one is to be open to experiences in general, then try giving spirituality a shot. One does not need an ashram or a priest to do this too, because believe it or not, spirituality is not all about God. It’s a state of being and must be treated so. Once in a while, free your mind with some meditation exercises or even Yoga. If you do believe in God but aren’t religious, it’s a good idea to read texts of different religions and try spirituality with an entirely new meaning attached to it. The choice is yours. Spirituality is not a must do, but for those who have tried it, it’s never been a disappointment.
Learn to Let Go
As you may have already realized, the idea of a home is very transient. For a travelling soul, the adventurous being or the fiercely independent spirit, it’s extremely difficult to live in one place for too long. If you are one who cannot zero in on one place to call home, you’re not alone. Happiness is not in being at peace with one physical setting, but with every physical setting one might encounter. If you live away from your parents, their home might be the ultimate place which you can call home. But that’s not always the case with everyone. To keep the idea of home moving and to not be able to call one place home for too long is perfectly fine. What is important for you is to be able to be at peace and feel liberated no matter where you go. For this reason, it’s important to learn to let go. Being attached to the place you called home is natural, but when life greets you with a new city, a new set of connections to make, one must take advantage. Keep the good memories with you of what used to be home and let them guide you forward.