Monday, August 30, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love in Edmonton

I just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. To summarize, without giving too much away, the book is a memoir of one year in the life of a woman who steps outside of her life and travels to three global locations where she learns a new language while finding pleasure in food, develops her spirituality despite doubt, and finds true love while continuing her spiritual journey.

This plan certainly worked for her and while I don't agree with all of her choices, has caused me to take inventory of my life. Going on a world tour is not practical for many of us, yet taking stock of our lives and finding new ways to develop is part of having an active, healthy life. So here are ways in which we can eat, pray, and love - right here in Edmonton.

I have this habit of "discovering" a certain kind of food and then trying it out at as many different restaurants as possible. The most recent example of this is pho, Vietnamese noodle soup. I'm addicted and have even picked up a few words of the language in the process. Slowly, I am moving onto banh mi (Vietnamese submarine sandwiches) as well as other kinds of ethnic delicacies. I sometimes feel like I travel the world with my mouth. Edmonton certainly has many wonderful restaurants from just about every culture: Indian, African, Latin American, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese ... the list goes on. Try something new and discover something about that culture and your own tastes. My site at Yelp offers reviews of hundreds of restaurants (and other local businesses) to give you just a sampling of what's out there.

Even if you have not darkened the door of a church/temple/mosque/fill in the blank for decades, it is never too late to get in touch with your spiritual side. Even though I come from a Jewish family, I always find it fascinating to visit a house of worship of another religion. It teaches me about that faith and sometimes helps answer questions I have about my own. Years ago, I helped to plant a church that combines elements of two of the major Abrahamic faiths - it still meets in west Edmonton. That is kind of extreme (and a lot of work) but getting together to pray, share, and worship with a few others in a home is another way to build fellowship. I also tend to view prayer and meditation as a personal practise and thus I often do that in private, or find spiritual elation in such solo activities as biking and long walks/hiking in the river valley. That whole social justice thing I am into? You got it - it is all part of how I practise my faith in a practical way in the real world. What do you believe? Live it.

While a torrid affair with a sexy Brazilian might be a pleasant fantasy, it is not realistic for most of us. Besides, that is only one kind of love. Expressions of kindness towards those closest to us (family, friends) and those who are the most vulnerable in society (children, seniors, the homeless, those at-risk of becoming homeless...). Volunteer with an organization like the Boys and Girls Club, Youth Emergency Shelter Society, The Mustard Seed, Hope Mission, and Edmonton's Food Bank - these are only a few of the worthwhile places that need volunteers. As far as love in the emotional/physical sense goes - when you are active and involved your passion shines through, and it makes for a very attractive package to those watching. Just get out there and be involved and the rest tends to fall into place.

As a side note, I began reading the book before the film came out - even before I knew there was going to be a film. I am honestly not sure if I want to see it. I find that movies are never as good as their books. But I probably will eventually. For now, I want to concentrate on living life and finding my direction.

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