People universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you are fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.
I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.
Traveling is the great true love of my life. I have always felt, ever since I was sixteen years old and first went to Russia with my saved-up babysitting money, that to travel is worth any cost or sacrifice. I am loyal and constant in my love for travel, as I have not always been loyal and constant in my other loves. I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless, newborn baby―I just don't care what it puts me through.
Why must everything be repeat and repeat, never finish, never resting? You work so hard one day, but the next day you must only work again. You eat, but the next day, you are already hungry. You find love, then love goes away. You are born with nothing, you work hard, then you die with nothing. You are young, then you are old. No matter how hard you work, you cannot stop getting old.
Big deal. So you fell in love with someone. Don't you see what happened? This guy touched a place in your heart deeper than you thought you were capable of reaching, I mean, you got zapped. But that love you felt, that's just the beginning. You just got a taste of love. That's just limited little rinky-dink mortal love. Wait till you see how much more deeply you can love than that.
This sadness is one of the great trials of the human experiment. As far as we know, we are the only species on the planet who have been given the gift―or curse, perhaps―of awareness about our own mortality. Everything here eventually dies; we're just the lucky ones who get to think about this fact every day.
There's a part of me which has always wanted to hear a man say, "Let me take care of you forever," and I have never heard it spoken before. Over the last few years, I'd given up looking for that person, learned how to say this heartening sentence to myself, especially in times of fear.
Elizabeth Gilbert (born July 18, 1969) is an American journalist and author. She is best known for her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which has sold over 12 million copies and has been translated into over 30 languages. The book was also made into a film of the same name in 2010.
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