one family's yearlong dare to live their dreams

Leash to the Wall, Face in the Feed Bag

horse with feedbagI’ve got a problem with Elizabeth Gilbert. Don’t get me wrong; I loved her book Eat, Pray, Love. Couldn’t put it down. Neither could Wendy. But the underlying premise of that book, as well as Gilbert’s attitude toward family life, are part of the reason we started this blog. дата выхода two worlds 2: pirates of the flying fortress

In case you’re one of the 15 English speakers who hasn’t read the book or seen the movie starring Julia Roberts, Eat, Pray, Love chronicles Gilbert’s adventures as she tries to find herself in Italy, India, and Indonesia. Nothing wrong there. But it’s her underlying assumptions along the way that irk me.

The book opens with her in an absolute panic, hysterical, over the fact that if she stays with her husband, she might become a mom. And then her life will be utterly ruined.

So, she splits, kills the marriage dead, and flees the country. Okay, so lots of people need to get out of bad marriages. But it’s the kid thing that really gets her ass in gear. In the end, Gilbert hooks up with a dude who’s already had kids, thank you, and doesn’t want more, and who’s had a vasectomy to boot. Whew! No chance of bringing rugrats into the world with this guy! Bullet dodged, Gilbert lives happily ever after.

Now, I don’t have a problem with folks who don’t want kids. I don’t think anyone should have kids unless they really want them. It’s just about the biggest commitment you can ever make, and you can’t exactly return them if they don’t work out. What I take issue with is Gilbert’s assumption that you can’t live for yourself if you have kids, that if you have kids, you can forget every selfish dream you’ve ever had.

Gilbert’s interview in O, the Oprah Magazine last year clarified her views.

“When I was in Mexico when I was 20, I remember meeting this American couple who were in their 60s, and they said, ‘Oh, it’s so great that you’re traveling now, before you have kids, because you won’t be able to then.’ I know this is a thing that people do; they go traveling for a year, and then they hitch their leash to the wall and put their face in their feed bag and that’s the end of it. And I thought, ‘But I might want to keep doing this,’ you know?”

In other words once you have kids, you can forget about traveling around the world, or doing anything else that’s particularly interesting. I know a lot of people have this idea, that you can’t live for your dreams if you have a family and responsibilities, and blah blah blah. I’m just picking on Gilbert because she’s so damn articulate about it, and so widely read. She’s issued such a public challenge that I just can’t let it go.

Elizabeth Gilbert, I’ll see you two kids, and take your India, too. Wendy and I are doubling down and going for broke.

(Well, at least Wendy is. She’s the one going to India. I’ll be home with the kids while she does that. I never really wanted to go to India anyway. Oop. Gotta go now; I think I hear a Klondike bar calling me from the feed—er—freezer….)

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4 Responses to “Leash to the Wall, Face in the Feed Bag”

  1. Julie says:

    Interesting… I am actually on of the 15 that have not read Gilbert’s book, although I’ve “inherited” about 3 copies and told its a “must read.” Those I know who live in the area of Bali she writes of have said the book has ruined the area, which is now inundated with love-hungry tourists. I am a mom, I have two kids who are somewhat grown, in their 20′s… so I am an advocate of your mission of living a life of love and passion and adventure “even with” kids and I know of those who have done that, including you two adventuresome couple of life lovers. One idea that I have discussed with my dear sweet divine yoga teacher is where does “it” come from? “It” being the idea that was expressed by the 60 year old couple in the Gilbert interview, “that…they go traveling for a year, and then they hitch their leash to the wall and put their face in their feed bag and that’s the end of it.” Look at the metaphor. We have this idea because for thousand of years we have enslaved animals. We have domesticated them and become dependent on them for our food and livelyhood. How could we go anywhere or travel when we must stay “tied” to the farm and take care of the animals? And we must have help to take care of everything, so we had children who became laborers on the farm. We became enslaved ourselves. We became like the animals we enslaved, like that metaphor of being leashed to the wall. And now its just part of the culture. It is understanding and shattering these cultural myths where our true freedom can stand, so thanks for being among the shatterers of cultural myth that we don’t need anymore!

    • Wendy says:

      Julie, thanks for digging deeper and uncovering the assumptions hidden in those rather disturbing metaphors. You have made us think and question things a whole lot further, and over here at Party of 4 blog we love to think and question! So thank you. Your wise comments are making our blog a richer read altogether.

  2. bekkitae says:

    Amazingly, I’m also another one of the 15 that have neither read the book or seen the movie. I wonder if the other 13 will work their way here, in time?

    I am young; neither married nor a parent. I am not interesting in becoming a parent (but read a lot of so-called “mummy blogs” – go figure?)

    The most (real life) admired relationship I know is that of my godparents, who have two kids currently 17 and 13. My godmother once said to me, “Now Bekky, don’t get me wrong here – I love my boys. But if I had to choose between [husband] and the boys, it would be [husband] all the way. We make time just for each other. We travel every year, sometimes as a family, sometimes as a couple, and sometimes I go on my own or with girlfriends. I would do anything for my boys, but they have not taken over my life or my marriage.”

    This… wisdom (for want of a better word) of hers hasn’t made me rethink of having my own… but definitely made me re-evaluate my stereotyped views on how offspring changes your life!
    bekkitae recently posted..For a blog about carbon-consciousness- your blog sure looks like a bunch of recipes

    • Michael says:

      Yes, life is indeed more complicated than the stereotypes. Surprise! I suspect that many of us use convenient excuses (children, demanding partners, financial situation, etc.) to keep from living the life we want. Wendy and I are finding it very interesting to see what happens when we take the excuses off the table. Sometimes the resistance to change is still there, even with the excuse gone.

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