Wednesday, March 12, 2008

a postscript to E.P.L.

In response to Sunday's column about my strong, somewhat dismissive commentary about the book Eat, Pray, Love, I'm relieved to report that the responses I've received from women have been 100% supportive. Writing that column was kind of risky - the book is beloved by millions, and most women I know who liked it seem like perfectly reasonable people to me. Which is why I feel so confused. Maybe I'm really missing something. Maybe I'm just too grouchy to live.

So many of us find ourselves in the same psychological boat: we're challenged by everyone from Oprah to people like Elizabeth Gilbert and her ilk to "discover" ourselves but we're very, very busy trying to keep up with everyday life. It simply angers me beyond words when I hear about women who are "searching" and "contemplating," and think they are doing us some kind of cosmic favor by encouraging us to join their search for truth.

These models of personal growth seem to have crossed a line somewhere that creates - for me at least - a great divide. I'm not sure exactly what belongs on either side of that divide but the women occupying each space are substantively different. I'm going to guess that on one side, women use a phrase like "teachable moment" when they discuss experiences about raising their children. Women on the other side have never uttered those two words in the same sentence, much less as a standard phrase. Women on the enlightened side arrange play dates and memorize the school nurse's phone extension on the first day of school. The rest of us are trying hard to keep up with everything every weekend and have a school contact list posted on or near every phone in our home.

I'm not saying there's anything particularly wrong with any of those "enlightened side" attributes but when they're all wrapped up in an "I'm more evolved than you are, you poor thing" aura, it's nauseating.

I appreciate hearing from women who helped me feel like I'm not completely crazy. I'm not some kind of misanthrope who hates everyone. But I have little tolerance for privileged women who make the rest of us feel like losers. In the spirit of Nancy Reagan, we need to "just say no" to these modern day gurus of garbage. I may not be all that enlightened, but I'm hanging in there. It's gratifying to hear I'm not alone.

Thanks for visiting -

Opening email in the days following a column is always a challenge. Some people spend a lot of time and energy telling me exactly what a jerk I am, and what a waste of space my weekly column is. What I can't understnd in cases like that is why the bother to read me if I'm such an idiot. I don't waste time reading articles or columns by people who have little of interest to say to me. Why do they??

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