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(c) 2010 Trina Lambert

About a week before taking our kids to college, Christiana and I went to see Eat, Pray, Love at the movie theater. We didn’t have time to go in the midst of preparing for the move, but reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love together had been part of Christiana’s recovery from some very tough times and we knew we wanted to see it side by side before our time living in the same town and home ran out.

The movie cannot convey all the nuances of what the book is about, but those of us who have read the book know more about the depth of the story, as well as many of the inside jokes. For me, Eat, Pray, Love reminds me how my daughter was able to begin to understand that another person’s recovery and journey toward a new way of living meant that she, too, could do the same.

At one point in the book/movie, Gilbert learns an Italian word that expresses where she is on her journey—attraversiamo. “Let’s cross over.” And she does—with enthusiasm.

Well, that’s where our family is right now. Last week around this time we were gathering up and loading Christiana’s and Jackson’s possessions into two cars. The plan was to get up at 4:30 a.m. and be on the road within an hour. Well, let’s just say we made it on the road in less than two hours.

Christiana and her father rode in the Mercury, ironically, with most of Jackson’s “stuff” and our suitcases. I rode with Jackson in the C-RV which was packed with most of Christiana’s items—she’s a girl after all—she took way more than the towels, sheets, and clothes Jackson brought along.

We crossed over a couple mountain passes on the road to college. If it hadn’t been for that darn road construction, we’d have made it there when we planned (which was echoed by pretty much everyone arriving by the route we did.) Thus we were busy playing catch-up the rest of that day.

Yet at the end of the day, our kids were ensconced in their own dorm rooms and we were sawing logs in our motel room—alone.

Orientation, waiting in lines, picking up last minute supplies at Wal-Mart and the grocery store, etc. took a whole lot of energy. So much so we hardly had time to register how different all our lives had just become. We were so overtasked that our goodbyes were basically an understatement as we all needed to get back to our own plans of what came next.

And then the kids drove back up the hill to the Fort (Lewis) and we got on the road to the Land of Enchantment: New Mexico.

(c) 2010 Trina Lambert

I don’t know about them, but we were so exhausted we could barely register what was happening—and we had a four hour road trip ahead of us. So first we crossed over the New Mexico border in heavy rainfall and then over mountains while the sun was setting in that stereotypically gorgeous New Mexican way. Darkness fell before we reached the valley and soon the headlights on our car were doing a poor job of slicing through heavy fog. Luckily the fog lifted and we didn’t encounter any livestock or jumping deer.

At one point Sherman asked me what bridge we might be crossing over.

I had no idea.

It wasn’t until we had arrived at Taos and started reading literature that we realized we had passed over a profound gorge on a bridge high above the Rio Grande River. Talk about attraversiamo! So we returned the next day—and were truly impressed with how deep the divide was between where we had come from and where we were.

(c) 2010 Sherman Lambert

As we walked across that bridge and looked down, I remembered traveling while pregnant to see another one of nature’s great reminders of crossing over: the Mississippi, that great mother river of the United States. Although at almost four months pregnant, I “got” that my life was changing, it wasn’t until much later in the pregnancy that I dreamed about trying to cross that river in what had become my hugely pregnant body—and woke to realize just how different one shore was from the other. There would be no turning back from where Sherman and I were heading.

Not only that, but that our lives with our soon-to-be-born children would be a series of crossing over, one after another, throughout our lives together.

Now that we’ve made it to another crossing of epic portions, let’s do it with gusto.

Attraversiamo!

(c) 2010 Sherman Lambert

It’s taken me a very long time to join the blogging world. I have been journaling pretty consistently, by hand no less, for over ten years. I am a belly-button gazer extraordinaire. However, as a writer who has published both research-based objective works, as well as very personal essays, I wanted to make sure any public blogging made sense for my professional reputation.

When members of my writing organization met to discuss blogging, we held varying opinions on how personal a professional writer should get in a blog. That night we brainstormed on how to categorize ourselves.

I’ve been stewing about that for a couple months, but what I realize now is that I am first and foremost a writer of personal material. I do write about life, so it suits me to blog about my life—even if there are millions of other people who do the very same about their own lives.

Good personal writing is a gift. When it works, a personal writer can express for us what we can’t seem to express for ourselves. As readers, we find ourselves amazed to discover that somehow somebody else seems to know exactly what we think or can relate to just what we went through.

But personal writing can even go beyond that. I’ve been reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love out loud to my daughter. My book club read it last month and I knew within chapters that my daughter should hear these words that are woven together so well.

Wednesday after school as I was reading to her she caught the emotion in my voice.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

I croaked out, “Nothing—I’m just an empathetic reader.”

I may be an empathetic reader, but it takes a really good writer to pull me in that deep. I’ve never sent e-mail from an Italian Internet café to say goodbye forever to a guy as Liz Gilbert did. However, her words took me to that place and in that moment I might as well have been her.

Her belly-button gazing in Eat, Pray, Love certainly touched me. I don’t promise my words have the power hers do, but I know I’m a lot happier for getting them out of my head and into a journal, blog, or some form of print.

And, if perchance my words do reach someone else, then they are no long just all about me. As David Whyte states in his poem “Loaves and Fishes”: People are hungry, and one good word is bread for a thousand.”

Let my words be that bread.

It’s so easy to tell others to stop trying to rescue other people—but it sure is difficult advice to take for myself.

How do you stop caring when people who have meant so much to you are making bad choices? I guess the answer is—you don’t. It’s just at some point you have to admit what you can and can’t control.

My book club will be discussing Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love Thursday night. I had no expectations for this book and was only reading it because I needed to. Frankly, most of Angie’s spiritual book choices leave me cold. No more Michael Crichton talking to a cactus plant, please!

But this book has been just what I have needed at this point of life. It has reminded me that I try to control things outside of my control too often. Just like Groceries (Gilbert), I have serious control issues. I think I know what would be the right way for things to turn out or how other people should act.

Guess what? People often don’t do what I think they should do. Situations often turn out far from my liking. I am so not in charge.

Thank God for that! I wanted another path than the one I was set upon. And my life turned out to be pretty good with the people who were destined to be in my life and despite those who were destined to not continue in my life.

Gilbert’s book reminds me that sometimes we have to let God—or the Universe if that’s more suitable to your brain—take care of things we have not been able to fix. I am a practical person who thinks I should live by logic, but the mystical has happened to me, too. At those times, I always want to say, “Are you talking to me, God?” Then I am tempted to jump on the first ship away from Nineveh.

That didn’t work too well for Jonah and it hasn’t worked for me.

Deep down I want to experience, again, the blue lights of mystical union. To feel the butterfly that lands on my arm or the squeeze on my shoulder when no one is there, like I did when my dad was dying. To absorb the healing presence again that came in the stairwell on September 14, 2001 when I was praying for the nation and Jamie and instead was relieved of the guilt of 16 years. To understand that  during savasana I have the power to send away people from long ago dreams so they bother my dreams no more—like I did with one particular person. Amazing how unfinished business can be finished, even without all the parties present.

I cannot heal the girl whose kindness has been replaced by those things that would destroy her and those around her. I can’t afford to have her taking down those whom I love. But, I can pray for her. I can send love for who she was, wherever she is, instead of just hating what she has become. I can let the someone who is in control know that I still want so much more for her.

Nothing is impossible.

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