I’m remembering this scene from the movie Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen/read it yet and want to preserve your innocence, stop reading now.
It came at a point when she was recognizing that she wasn’t happy in her marriage and in her life. She looked around and felt like she had no reason to be unhappy — she had it made by certain standards. A nice cushy life, a good man for a husband, friends, professional success, nice home.
The fact remained — she was unhappy. Unlike her friends blissing out about the arrival of their long-desired baby, she didn’t dream of having a family. She kept a folder of travel destinations.
Then Liz/Julia Roberts has her “dear God, I’m in trouble” scene. It seems to be the middle of the night. Her husband is asleep in another room. She’s as alone as she has ever been. She may have been crying.
She kneels, tentatively places her hands in prayer position, and whispers that line to a God she has neglected and disregarded. Dear God, I’m in big trouble.
At least that’s how I remember the scene. I thought it was well-played. How often do we get to witness these moments in others’ lives?
Dear God, I’m in big trouble. That thought surfaced into my conscious mind during a time of too-much-busyness several years ago. An inkling that I wasn’t happy managed to get through during a brief pause. Something was wrong, or maybe not wrong, just not right. I had no idea what to do with that piece of information. I also became aware that I was exhausted.
I had what I believed was a good relationship with a good man. I had a regular so-called good job (read: not fulfilling) offset by volunteer work with a nonprofit helping women in prison and also was editing an anthology of women’s writing (read: very fulfilling). I had a charming vintage house in an up-and-coming neighborhood. I had worked my way through difficult personal issues. In some ways, I thought I had (finally) arrived.
Yet here was news of difference, an inner voice whispering to God where I could overhear it: I’m in trouble. This isn’t my right life.
Did I have any idea what my right life was? No! It was just not the life I was living. Did I do anything about it? No. I had no clue what to do.
And shortly after that, the shit hit the fan in my relationship, I resigned from my volunteer work, and I hunkered down, feeling like a mess. The Universe did for me what I couldn’t do for myself.
I withdrew more and more from the world and started meditating. That was my India.
It became clear that I wanted to focus on taking care of my health. I was tested for food sensitivities and learned not only that I had too much candida, but also that I was sensitive to wheat, among a dozen other things.
I cleared the excess candida by rigorously following the prescribed diet, and I learned to avoid wheat, learned that I had probably always been sensitive to it, because I felt so damn much better getting it out of my diet.
That was my Rome. Instead of stuffing my face and having to buy new jeans, I lost weight, but I felt so much better, and that’s the point.
I have spent time on Maui twice since then, so maybe Maui is my Bali. (I have plenty of shamans available, thank you very much. I’m still waiting for my Javier Bardem to appear.)
That was several years ago. In hindsight, I recognize that overworking is one of the ways I have distracted myself from talking to God. I recognize that that voice that talks to God is full of wisdom and should never be ignored. I recognize that when I am stuck, the Universe shifts to unstick me. I don’t always have to wait for the Universe — I can create the shifts I need myself.
I recognize that one of the ways to hear that voice more often, to get more familiar with it, to converse with it, is to make a habit of sitting in silence every day. Even if it’s just 10 minutes of “doing nothing,” that is time well spent, because it could be all that keeps you centered in your authentic life.