I never read Eat, Pray, Love. I saw the movie and thought it was okay. I tend to like Julia Roberts, so there was that. I don’t know Ms. Gilbert and have absolutely nothing against her, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve thought to myself, well, yeah, just about anybody could find themselves by traveling around the world if they had a big fat book advance to help them do it. I mean, she was being paid to eat, pray, and love.
But then, that’s not really fair, is it? Because I have no doubt that she worked extraordinarily hard to produce that book, and I’m certain that she was filled with the same dread and longing that she mentions in this TED talk from 2009*, as she struggled with what she calls the relationship between humans and the creative mystery, what she lyrically refers to as “the utter maddening capriciousness of the creative process.” There were a hundred opportunities for it to flop, but it didn’t. That’s as much a testament to her, to all the hard work she put into the project, as it is to the completely unpredictable collective psyche that receives a book at a particular moment, in a particular space and time — a new and specific, unrepeatable context — that can turn it into a totally unexpected phenomenon.
Her talk is not quite twenty minutes, and I find myself drawn to her exploration of creativity. I’m not sure what’s up with her hair, but I really like what she has to say:
*Thanks to kpc for bringing this to my attention.