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Nov 14

Written by: Jennifer Kumar, LMSW, Cultural Adjustment Coach/Mentor
Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Milestone Markers Are Opportunities for Personal Growth


Elizabeth confronts age and time on her path of self-discovery around the world (as so have I throughout life).

Part 7: Blogging Through a Book: Eat, Pray, Love



In exploring ourselves, we hit roadblocks, we may call limitations.  Limitations can be good, limitations can be ways for us to challenge ourselves to find alternative routes to the end goal.  Limitations, also, usually are man (or woman) made!  The idea I call a limitation, that Elizabeth speaks of at least twice in her book Eat, Pray, Love is age.  Age is a man made phemenomena.  Without time, which is also made man, what need would we have of age?  We have so many myths about age and time.  Maybe the concepts of age and time are not the only limitations, but also our myths, thoughts and feelings about time and age.


timeclock.jpgWhen I read Elizabeth’s reflections on her pending fear as a child turning 10 – the double digits (page 152), I was transported back to my own inauguration into the double digits.  Unlike Elizabeth, it did not seem as important to me – even at a young age, that 10 was now two digits and two digits must be close to ‘getting old.’  I welcomed 10 – I couldn’t wait to see what 10 bought me.  More wisdom?  More life experience?  Of course, as always more times to be a good role model, a big sister to my little sister.  My little sister, however, the wise one with three years to catch up on me in human time, seemed in some ways wiser than me.  Much younger than seven, she couldn’t handle being asked, “Where did humans come from?” and “How did the universe come into existance?”  She sat up nights thinking, pondering, forming theories.  One theory, which years later, seemed to be taken right out of her mouth by a university professor on TV- humans are descendants of dumb aliens.  Similar to the British use of Australia (a prison, an island for paraiahs), my sister created this story that aliens looking for another planet, thought Earth was suitable for the subsection of the species still evolving to a higher potential, that needed a quiet place to get away from it all and ponder their existance.  This wonderful, creative and controversial (yes, it was shared outside the house) theory was created by the same person who told me when I was turning 10 that, “Now you’re turning 10, you’re in the double digits, hurry up and live, your time is ticking away, you old bag!?”  What an ironic shift from a wise, pondering, old soul to a young, fiesty and practical joking seven year old human child.  Recently, my sister’s oldest daughter turned 10 – so I had my chance, as we all did, to tease my niece about entering a new phase of life, the phase of life that is long and worth traveling- through the double digits.  Somehow, like me, she also shrugged the stress of the numbers off as though, this is life, being 10 is a number, I am not bothered!


Back to Elizabeth’s journey, as her medicine man mentor, Ketut, enters her life’s journey in Indonesia, one of the biggest mysteries resurfacing throughout her stay in Indonesia is her quest to find out his age.  Ketut, a man who could not or possibly, would not, tell his birthdate, sometimes based his age on “…how he feels.  When he’s really tired, he’ll sigh and say, “Maybe I’m sixty today.” (page 239)  Though he compared his time on this planet to various major historical events, he would not tell Elizabeth his birthday, and maybe this bothered her.  I can relate.  I did social work in a village in Tamil Nadu, India, and plenty of people there did not know their birthdate.  Like Ketut, who related a day of the week to his birthday (not a date, though, just a day), people in the village sometimes could quote an astrological birth star.  But, this star did not coorelate with a date, a number that made any sense to the rest of us.  To the village people, gaining age gained respect and wisdom.  Of course, human characteristics show age without numbers.  This gains respect.  But, people did not care about numbers, dates, years.  These were not as important.  Birthdays were not celebrated.  This was also true among some school-educated people in cities (such as Chennai).  The city folk knew their birthday, but did not celebrate it.  It was not part of their culture.  Anyhow, when you have birthdays of at least five other Gods throughout the year to prepare grand meals and festivities for, why think about your own?  I like this philosophy.  Growing up with lavish birthday parties to celebrate a number that, anyhow after time, most of us won’t admit and cover up in different ways seems a bit odd to me.  At least with God’s birthday parties, no ages are discussed, god is timeless, ageless!


I would imagine on a quest for self discovery, for many, age would come up as a topic of thought.  Age, for many, seems an easy, convienent way to mark various milestones (or lack there of) in our lives.  Age helps us to gauge how long ago this happened, or how long until this will happen.  We know when we were born because our birth certificate says so, but we don’t know exactly how long we have on this earth, in this body, in this life?  So, it’s not our place to gauge until when we have time to do this or that that has not yet been done.  All we have is now, in the present, there is no age, no time.  Being in the present without age and time provides us limitless possibilities!


Part 7: Blogging Through a Book: Eat, Pray, Love


Related sites/posts:  My Village Experience in India  |  Age is Timeless  |  Challenge Your Mind’s Borders  |  Ekhart Tolle's The Power of Now


Search Tags:  Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love, India, Italy, Indonesia


Copyright ©2007 Jennifer Jayanthi Kumar


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