Published on December 5th, 2013 | by Allison Brooke Gordon0
My Eat. My Pray. My Love.
“So?? Did you meet anyone??! You know, like in Eat Pray Love.”
[Read: Did you finally meet a guy? You know, the one.]
This infamous question typically follows the usual courtesies — “How long have you been away? Where did you go?” — that I’m asked when catching up with someone since returning from an extended solo trip across Southeast Asia. My trip was inspired by friends, curiosity, love of travel, and yes… Elizabeth Gilbert’s New York Times bestseller Eat Pray Love.
I loved that book. Granted, I do love the question. And more-so, I love the truth of my answer.
“Yes! I met myself! I got to know myself. Impress myself. Ponder myself. And, surprise myself!”
In all its cheasy-ness, it’s true. Thanks to Gilbert’s rom-com memoir, some folks sweetly (and rightfully so) expected the culmination of my trip to be stories of tropical passions, full-moon beach romances and a happily-ever-after love story. **Admittedly, going into the trip I would have taken a magic-wand to that for myself if I could. However, I now know the best culmination of my travels was to develop a greater respect and deeper love for self.
So, in case you’d like to know more, here’s a synopsis of my Eat, my Pray and my Love….
Not surprisingly, there were bowls and mounds of noodles. Pillowy plump dumplings. Dipping sauces. Drenching sauces. Dangerously painful and spicey sauces– to list a few. Sipping teas. Detox teas. Enlightenment teas. There were condiments both basic and bizarre. And the famous mango sticky rice? Nirvana. Perfectly topped with bits of dried mung bean for texture. Don’t get me started. I ate.
In a mostly Buddhist region, prayer is common and smiling easily encouraged. Decorum is shoes off, shoulders covered, head slightly bowed, hands at namaskar, and a discreet whiff of incense. I visited nearly one hundred temples and shrines across seven countries. Each temple holds a story that moves the heart and inspires happiness and peace. I even tried a very brief vispassana retreat — a 24-hour practice of focus and meditation. No talking. I can’t say I was successful. And does praying during take-off and landing of each flight count too? There were 10. Yes, I prayed.
Love and joy were abundant. Both the locals and the travelers from around the world impressed and taught me much. We ate. We prayed. We laughed. We sang. We babbled on, snapped photos, shared dishes, shared stories. We were in awe.
And over time spent alone or with other travelers, I gained a better understanding — from the unknown, the friendships, encounters, and some trials, fears, discomfort and hopes — of myself and what love means to me. Several attributes rose to the top. Each called upon in my journey: patience, vulnerability, empathy, curiosity and courage. All just as meaningful and required should I have been traveling with a husband or beau — but without either there was no expectation to experience these attributes of love from non-other than myself. I believe the significance of these qualities — that when bestowed inward — becomes the greatest degree of love. The makings of unconditional self love.
So should you ever wonder about love while traveling or even while at home… I encourage you to indulge in the love of food, culture, new practices, new friends, adventure, the unknown, and above all yourself.
I learned that as I continue the adventures of life, and if I’m lucky more travel — whether solo or not — I know that I tapped and met an unconditional love within myself. So yes, I loved.
**Side note: I’ve humbly travelled to several continents — with visits of both cosmopolitan cities and breathtaking beaches — and, in my opinion, Southeast Asia is by far the most romantic region. To the Francophiles, pardonne -moi, but the beauty and romance of Paris pales in comparison to the charm of Luang Prabang, Laos or the tenderness in Bagan, Myanmar. If you haven’t already, I urge you to try to see for yourself. You will fall deeply in love.
–Listening to: One and Only – Adele
–To try: Tansy Flower Essence – Tincture to aid in self-care and self-love practices & Triloka Incense – To open heart chakra and elements of love and compassion.