Lunch. It’s an infrequent luxury in my world, and as I walked away from the office today, I actually heard the “Rocky” theme music in my head…. As if unchaining myself from the desk for 60 min were a feat of Herculean proportion.
My intention was to pick up some Taco Bell and drive to a near-by park, where I would read my current obsession, Eat, Pray, Love. I believe that this book was an Oprah recommendation or something similar, and I admit that did not really fill me with confidence that I would find it either inspirational or motivational. However, my dance studio offered it up as the book for discussion one month, and I wanted to have some idea of what people were talking about.
I couldn’t be more pleased that I did. What an amazing discovery!! This book fills me with hope and drive and all things that feel bubble-bath good in one’s soul. It has been a long time since I repeatedly laughed OUT LOUD at a book’s passages, much less chased someone down (usually poor Tag) saying, “Wait… you have to hear this. It’s hysterical.”
Elizabeth Gilbert’s telling of her year long adventures in Italy, India and Indonesia rousts parts of my soul that had settled into the numbness of neglect, giving it both wings, and the urge to fly. It has lightened my heart and filled it with giggly madness and joy. This is the kind of book that poets weep for and established governments should fear, because it cajoles me to be bigger, to be more courageous, to be more alive, to be inspired, invigorated, & ignited into a sacred flame.
As such, I found myself driving past the Taco Bell, and instead to a restaurant (one of my favorites) where I had not been in a long time. There I settled into a table by a sun-heated window, ordered some white wine and a salad, and allowed myself to be indulgent, reading at the table, drinking mid-day, and not keeping any sort of strict eye on the “lunchtime clock”.
While I ate my organic turkey burger and sipped my chardonnay, I found myself entranced by the words on the page. Gilbert’s description of the daily routine of the Ashram is reminiscent of the fantasy I’ve often had about life in a convent, or other spiritual temple. (And yes, I am aware how conflicting that desire is with my inherent inclinations to take long, wine-filled lunch breaks.... bear with me. )
Still, it was all a fairly innocous until I got to the conversation on soul mates:
“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, a person who brings you to your own attention, so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too Painful.”
When I finished reading the passage, I had to turn my head towards the window, and stare into the bright California sun, blinking back tears and the gasp that was caught in my throat. It’s not that the words were foreign or some epiphany exploding inside of me. The words were much identical to a conversation I had with a dear friend when I lost my first “soul mate”. But perhaps, because so much time had past, and my heart was miles from hurt, I was able to take those words inside of me as I never had before. There was a sigh of relief from within my soul, and I felt both validated and set free.
There have been a few loves in my life, that when they appeared, I was swept off my feet by the disorienting power they had over me. The signs of the Universe blinked in neon, telling me in no uncertain terms “PAY ATTENTION! This one is VERY important to you.” Those loves were passionate whirlpools of intensity, swirling wildly from indescribable joy to unbearable fury and pain. Those loves were also, oddly enough, the shortest in my history. They swept in, broke through walls, ripped open scabs, spilt their iodine and left without so much as a band-aid in thanks.
And here was a book, years later, confirming that it just might be a part of the bigger plan. *sigh* It was an amazing relief.
I turned from the window, back to the room full of diners and felt… just a little different. The couple at the table next to me received from the waitress two plates of pancakes, and I laughed while crying at the beauty and freedom of that. (I can’t explain what I found particularly moving about it…. Just that I did). There was a brief moment of wondering if I was being watched; if anyone noticed the tears glistening in my eyes, or the smile I couldn’t seem to erase. Just as quickly as that thought appeared, I realized that I couldn’t possibly care. I was in that moment perfect and pure and enjoying a state of amazing bliss.
I finished my glass of wine, paid my bill, and returned to my car. A moment of transcendence, disguised as an everyday meal.
I really should make a point of taking lunch more often.