Selfishness…

Tuesday was a busy day.  We had new carpet put in to replace the nearly 20 year old carpet that was in our bedrooms.  We spent the day moving around furniture and belongings.  I blinked and it was dinner time.  After dinner I went to see Eat Pray Love with my friend, Kelly, and it was during the movie that I realized I hadn’t written or scheduled a blog post for Wednesday.  Luckily I was watching a very inspiring movie.

I read the book Eat Pray Love over two years ago.  I remember liking it, but not loving it.  The spiritual aspects of it spoke to me, but I’ve never dreamed of being a world traveler so with the exception of the ashram in India I didn’t feel any envy on that front.  That being said, I LOVED the movie!  I don’t know if I’m just in a different place now, but it was moving, funny, and I really loved Liz and the whole cast of characters in her life.

That brings me to the title of the post.  Last week I read a scathing review of the movie.  Pretty much had I never read the book and just read this review, I might not have paid to see the flick.  The overall criticism of the movie was that the main character was selfish and narcissistic.  I’d put the link to the review here if I could remember, but I can’t.  The reviewer was so convincing that she even had me vaguely remembering the self-involved nature of the author in the book.  But guess what?  It was a memoir.  The purpose is for the author to write about her life experiences and her personal reactions to those experiences.  Of course it would have self-involved overtones.

So I went into the movie with this review still in my head and plans to pin point all those horribly narcissistic moments on the big screen.  The thing was, I didn’t see any.  I saw a woman with her own problems, dealing with them in the only way she could.  A big argument made by detractors is that she “had it all” and was so selfish that she left it to find something else.  It was made clear in the movie that her big dream was not to be a wife and mother, so how can we say she had it all.  Sometimes we make decisions based on a mold created for us by our families or our culture, sometimes we make decisions for ourselves and simply change our minds.  It was mentioned that Ms. Gilbert so thoughtlessly left behind her family and loved ones to travel the world, but all I saw was a woman who was given the perfect opportunity to have an adventure.  There was no one in her life that NEEDED her in order to survive and thrive.  In fact, the people who thought they wanted her went on to find more success and happiness once she was out of the picture.

I think it’s sad that people tend to jump on the label “selfish” every time another person does something specifically for their own well-being, sanity, and happiness.  We have no idea what other people are actually thinking and feeling.  A small problem to us may be a devastating obstacle to someone else.  A person who appears to “have it all” may in fact have not one thing that makes them feel good about living.

I, for one, find Elizabeth Gilbert inspiring and no more narcissistic than anyone else in the world.  (We’re all a little narcissistic and selfish right?)

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4 thoughts on “Selfishness…

  1. Renee August 19, 2010 / 7:16 am

    I don’t think “selfish” is always a bad thing.

    People will call you selfish if you choose not to have children. I was called selfish when I chose to keep Emma instead of give her up for adoption (not to my face, but it got back to me). A lot of people have called Elizabeth Gilbert selfish. And, in a way, the book comes across that way. But as you said, it was a memoir and it was a year of her life that she spent trying to discover herself.

    I see nothing wrong with that.

    I mean, when Emma graduates high school and I have her well on her way into college and an adult life, I see that as my opportunity to experience the things I missed by becoming a mother so young. Is that selfish? Sure. But I’m not hurting anyone by doing it and I’m helping someone who really needs it: me.

    • lesleehorner August 19, 2010 / 6:57 pm

      A friend of mine from high school is sending her son to college this year. She is single and he’s an only child…I imagine the rest of her 30s and her 40s are going to be lots and lots of fun. I know if it was me, I’d make sure to have a blast. So I will be cheering you on when it is time for you to have your adventure, Renee!!!

  2. Casey August 19, 2010 / 2:17 pm

    Well said. I’m so over the critics (both professional and not) of this movie. I did not LOVE the book, but admired her journey and her having the guts to do it.

    I don’t see how she forsake anyone while traveling. Hurt anyone. No one had to tend to her. She did it all on her own.

    Yes, it was self-indulgent. That’s the whole point! She wanted to figure out who she was. Why is this so offensive to people?

    Shouldn’t we all be narcissistic when figuring out what we want in our own lives?

    OK, so now I’m all worked up. Just so tired of these reviews!

    • lesleehorner August 19, 2010 / 6:59 pm

      It is very interesting how we like to pick on each other. Life would be so much more enjoyable if we could all just lend support instead of tearing each other down. I was happy that at least WordPress followed that “freshly pressed” post with one in favor of the book a day later.

      Thanks for stopping by Casey!!

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