Most of you have probably heard of the book (and subsequent) film, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I read the book and saw the film and liked them well enough but was not blown away (as some people were). What impressed me considerably more was a subsequent book, Committed, where Gilbert explored the concept and history of commitment. It combined solid research with her personal story. There was so much information in it that I felt it deserved a second read (one I have yet to do, but still).
Eye-opening to me was that, contrary to conventional thought, the early Christian church was not a big fan of marriage and preferred people be “married” to god, not mortals. Marriage was seen as a bit frivolous even, so it’s historically inaccurate when people argue that “god” and the church have always advocated marriage. Gilbert points out that while the standard heterosexual man/woman/kids family unit has weakened and dropped in numbers, it is increasingly gay couples who want to marry and have families (and who have met resistance).
As I read Committed I had a strong sense that the author was trying to talk herself into it (i.e. a second marriage after a failed first) and was using research to buoy her decision, which in the end, is to commit to the man she met as described in Eat, Pray, Love.
I haven’t kept close tabs on Elizabeth Gilbert’s ongoing story, just occasionally checking out her Facebook page, so I was surprised to learn that not only had she split from her husband a few short years ago but had become involved with a woman soon thereafter. This woman, Rayya Elias, became ill with cancer and died recently. Gilbert’s grief is very raw and I can’t help but feel for her. She is plainly devastated.
At first – not knowing about the marital split – I was confused when I google-searched and found hit after hit about Gilbert’s “partner” who died. There has to be a better word – and I don’t know why there isn’t yet – for a same-sex girlfriend or boyfriend. “Partner” is so dry and unemotional; it doesn’t do justice to human relationships.
It’s ironic that Gilbert ended up in a gay relationship, particularly after the Hollywood treatment of Eat, Pray, Love, namely “sailing off into the sunset” with a handsome man. More so because of her thoughtful reflections on the current state of same sex couples in Committed. I don’t know if Gilbert will write another memoir that would share her subsequent story but if she does, I’d certainly be interested to read it.