The other day, I was sitting by the pool reading Eat, Pray, Love for the second time. The first time I read it was shortly after it came out, I was in middle school, and I hated it. But now, reading it at 19, I can see myself in some of the stories Liz tells, I could see myself in some of the situations she found herself in… hopefully not all of those situations, but I’d be okay with the Italian getaway parts.
“Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, (author of Eat, Pray, Love)
That quote stuck out on the page. Actually, it more than stuck out, it jumped out and grabbed me and shook me so hard that it became ingrained into my brain. Yes, that’s what happened. And it took me a while to realize why that quote wouldn’t dislodge itself from me… apparently the universe thought I needed to hear it from someone, and that someone was apparently Liz. (So, Liz, if by some chance you’re reading this… thank you.)
I think the key to all of this is that we’re talking about “an unguarded moment.” So, whatever or whenever that moment was for me, I’m not really sure. (I’ll try to figure it out before the end of this post.) I just know that it had to have happened at some point or I wouldn’t be here writing this at all. If I had to guess, I’d say it happened early one morning with nobody awake but me, my music playing quietly in the background (if you must ask, it’s currently always on the La La Land soundtrack) and a hot cup of coffee in my hands. I say this for two reasons: 1) my bedroom has a full length mirror, so if we’re taking this literally, I would have actually “recognized” myself in that reflection, and 2) because I do my best thinking either very early or very late.
It’s kind of like that question people love to ask: “would you be friends with yourself if you passed you on the street?” I have always said, “I hope so” to that question and I thought that was good enough for me. I guess it isn’t or I don’t think I’d be sitting here, struggling to turn my thoughts into words on a screen. That answer needs to be “yes.” I think it is, now. I’d be friends with myself. I am friends with myself. Here’s how I figured that out:
I was talking to two of my good friends on the phone (not texting, we’re old fashioned like that), it was late but not too late, I was sitting on the porch, listening to them talk over each other for 105 minutes. (I just looked to see how long it was.) They’re both younger than I am, one still in high school, the other just graduated… sometimes they make me feel 100 years older than I really am. I’m not going to name them, but they’ll know who they are when they read this. We finally hung up around 10:00 my time, 11:00 friend #1’s time and 8:00 friends #2’s time. Now you know how spread out across the country we are. The next morning is when, I think, it happened.
I was walking through the kitchen with my coffee, it was barely six in the morning, the sky was pink and I just sat outside and watched the sun as it rose. There was no miraculous moment, there was no crying tears of joy. It was just me, my coffee and the sunrise. That’s all it took, though. That unguarded moment. I felt like I was friends with myself. Not just the parts of me that I like, but the parts that I don’t like so much, too. We all have something we’d change about ourselves but that morning, I was friends with even the worst parts of me. For the first time, I recognized myself as someone I would be friends with. That I was friends with. And that feeling, while not as strong, is still there on most days. Like right now.
It took a lot of work to get to this point. I’m not going to give you the steps because there aren’t really any steps I can give you. This is something you have to realize on your own, I can’t lead you down a path, I can’t give you any advice other than this: the next time someone asks you if you’d be friends with yourself, just smile and say yes.
Recognize yourself for the beautiful person that you are and say “yes.”