Something struck me about this book, though for a while I didn’t want to allow myself to give in. I’m not saying it’s not a good book, with its conversational style and interesting quest for love, I’m just saying, archetypically, I’m not supposed to like it. A guy liking Eat Pray Love is rare, but a man willing to admit it is seldom. Why? Well because most of the time it just doesn’t appeal to the male sex. But regardless of what is under your navel, there is a strong spiritual aspect to this book. Most notably in the 108th bead, the ending. The Zen Buddhists belief resonates because “They say that an oak tree is brought into creation by two forces at the same time. Obviously, there is the acorn from which it all begins, the seed which holds all the promise and potential, which grows into the tree. Everybody can see that. But only a few can recognize that there is another force operating here as well—the future tree itself, which wants so badly to exist that it pulls the acorn into being, drawing the seedling forth with longing out of the void, guiding the evolution from nothingness to maturity. In this respect, say the Zens, it is the oak tree that creates the very acorn from which it was born” (329). This, a long quote, illustrates the potential and promise of every individual colliding with the future self. It lends the lens and offers the perspective that we live to see how we grow. Are we growing towards ourselves because of our potential or is it the future self that is drawing us.
Gilbert said that, “The younger me was the acorn full of potential, but it was the older me, the already-existent oak, who was saying the whole time: ‘yes—grow! Change! Evolve! Come and meet me here, where I already exist in wholeness and maturity!’” (330). The evolution of self and the actualization of the me is what we strive for because in our present state we experience frustration. We want to be, we need to be, and most importantly we become the future tree. Through this Buddhist belief I find solace with current angst and frustration.
College is a crossroads for most individuals; it tests where we are in this process; closer to acorn or the future tree. I feel like it is a time where we are in constant odds with ourselves for the very reason of whether we are the acorn or the future tree. For Elizabeth it took trips to India, Italy, and Bali, but what will it take for me to reach my own personal future tree. It’s a frustrating process because the uncertainty; not knowing where we are in the process of growth can be particularly unsettling. So when is the ‘ah ha’ moment? Does it occur in class, conversation, transcendental experience? I don’t believe it hits you like a ton of bricks but I also disagree with it being so subtle that you are not conscious of it. But how can we know where our seed or actualized and flourished tree stand? Also am I already my future self? Since we have the aspiration to better ourselves, and the uncertain knowledge about the future, we are left in a cloud of tugging frustration and angst.