The third part – Love – is very uplifting and truth be told, I really enjoyed it.
Again, many lines strike the chord. One of the excerpts that especially moves me is when right after her painful divorce the main character goes alone to this small Indonesian island, on a ten-day silence and solitude retreat, voluntarily submitting herself to the painful face-to-face encounter with her mind, no books or other sources of entertainment and distraction between them. Where couples go on romantic trips she goes to face her demons: sorrow, anger, pain, shame. Terrified but encouraged by her Guru’s saying “Fear – who cares?”, she realises this is the only way to move forward and she has to do it on her own.
She gives time to every sorrowful, angry or shameful thought or memory that comes to mind during those dark days until nothing is left and, facing each of them, accepts them as part of herself, forgiving each and every one and then letting them rest there. Having given up words and external noises, she finds the way to start healing.
Actually, I often think about words and what they mean to us (beyond the important communicative function of the language that has served us as an indispensable tool on the evolutionary path). How we use words not just to share information about the outside world or our experiences but as a shield from ourselves and our potential. How and why we are afraid of being silent and use words to sort of create action when we feel that something is missing in the moment. How uncomfortable we often are sharing silence with others and how panicky we get when we find ourselves plunged into silence, reacting by immediately surrounding ourselves with noise, reaching out for a phone, an iPod, a TV remote or a favourite tune, so that the voices from deep inside would not be heard. Those voices that we can hear only when we allow ourselves to experience genuine silence, the one that goes beyond words. And how we are often desperate for words, asking through them for validation and appreciation, letting words define us, sometimes once and for all.
From the book: “We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendent emotions that jerk us around like jogs on a leash. We get seduced by our own mantras (I’m a failure…I’m lonely…I’m a failure…I’m lonely…) and we become monuments to them. To stop talking for a while, then, is to attempt to strip away the power of words, to stop choking ourselves from our suffocating mantras…”
For some time I have been fascinated by human language and our drive to express ourselves verbally but at some point started noticing the gnawing sensation of discomfort behind the apparent feeling of satisfaction after having found “the right word” to express some idea. Digging for the root of discomfort, I saw that the word I was searching for and that was supposed to give a more precise description of the idea or experience and sort of nail it, was at the same time killing it for me, robbing it off some of its uniqueness that was only present at the actual moment of experience, the experience starting to fade as soon as the mind began conceptualising it. The moment the word was said or written, that thing felt long dead and existing on a totally different level, apart from me.
At this point I prefer the non-verbal forms of self-expression – visual art, dance, music, etc. – as they also possess enormous means of expression and not only allow but inevitably lead to different interpretations. Probably because it is easier not to fall into the trap of fully associating oneself with those means of self-expression than it is with words, when at some point we actually start believing that whatever we say is the truth, reality.
The final pages of the book read (and the author is well aware of it) like a fairy-tale end anyone including herself could dream about. But, as the”healthy and happy and balanced” Liz explains: “I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue”. To Liz, in her favourate language: Brava!