Some travelers go on trips with a security blanket. I travel with a security book: Elizabeth Gilbert’s famous travel memoir Eat Pray Love. The first time I read Eat Pray Love was a turning point in my college career, and probably one of the bigger turning points in my life thus far. A few weeks before I was about to embark on a three-month-long study abroad excursion in Bergamo, Italia, my long-term college boyfriend broke up with me over Skype. I felt betrayed and at a loss, especially since studying abroad in Italy together was his idea in the first place.
I had a decision to make. Either I would stay the semester in New Jersey and study abroad in the future when I was ready, or I would push forward with the original plan and make adjustments to an otherwise unforeseen alteration. I delved into the scary and unknown, submersing myself into the pursuit of pleasure—a pursuit that, as someone who has grown up in the Northeast United States, I find difficult to enjoy to its fullest since I find myself with barraging thoughts of guilt, i.e. why are you having fun? Shouldn’t you be working right now?
Eat Pray Love became my travel mantra because it gave me the inspiration I needed in order to find balance in this modern, chaotic world. I decided that I could pursue both pleasure and devotion and still be balanced. I decided that it was possible to be devout with desire and to desire while still being devout.
In religious terms, I was raised in a Catholic household and even attended Catholic school for a few years in elementary school. However, I am not devout enough to go around proclaiming that I am a die-hard Catholic, or even a devout Christian. I do believe in God, but my time, prayers, and experience with God are completely personal, private, and my own. I decided that I love the teachings of Jesus, but more importantly, that going to church once a week was not as important as finding the time to fit God into my heart, mind, and prayers every day through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
This spoken word video is one of the most powerful yet concise videos I have seen on the failings of a strict religion. The quote that really sticks out to me is “church is not a museum for the good; it a hospital for the broken.”
Whether you practice religion devoutly, casually, occasionally, rarely, or not at all, is ultimately irrelevant. What matters the most is how you choose to use your religion or lack thereof. Be sure to find meaning each and every day. Wake up each morning with a purpose and go to bed every night knowing that you have done your best to make your dreams come true. Believe in the reality of your dreams.