I think I have a new favorite book, at least in the nonfiction world. Well, if you take out the parenting type books lol. Although it was found in the travel section of Powell's, I would almost put this book in the self help or spirituality - at least it was for me! I can't even begin to explain how much this woman reminded me of myself! Her spiritual journey was so inspiring to me and has me really interested in pursuing yoga more than I have in the past. If you haven't read it, the three words in the title each represent a theme for a country the author visited on a year long trip of self discovery. I loved so much about the book, I thought I would break my comments up into three posts, just like the book sections!
Before really delving into her time in Italy, she takes us on a bit of a journey through her recent past. One of my favorite things in the book takes place on a trip to Indonesia, while visiting a medicine man:
"I guess what I want to learn is how to live in this world and enjoy its delights but also devote myself to God."
Ketut said he could answer my question with a picture. He showed me a sketch he'd drawn once during meditation. It was an androgynous human figure, standing up, hands clasped in prayer. But this figure had four legs, and no head. Where the head should have been, there was only a wild foliage of ferns and flowers. There was a small smiling face drawn over the heart.
"To find the balance you want," Ketut spoke through his translator, "this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it's like you have four legs, instead of two. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead. That way, you will know God."
Wow, so simple, but so deep!
Then we get to Italy, where she has gone primarily to learn to speak Italian (and to eat of course). I am not going to write out the whole chapter here, but she devotes an entire one to explaining the history of the Italian language, which I had no idea about, and it blew me away. An entire language based on poetry. Ah, now it really does make sense how beautiful it is!
But I must mention food! There is much to choose from, but I think this is my favorite passage:
...before I left Rome, he gave me the name of a pizzeria in Naples that I had to try, because, Giovanni informed me, it sold the best pizza in Naples. I found this a wildly exciting prospect, given that the best pizza in Italy is from Naples, and the best pizza in the world is from Italy, which means that this pizzeria must offer... I'm almost too superstitious to say it... the best pizza in the world? Giovanni passed along the name of the place with such seriousness and intensity, I almost felt I was being inducted into a secret society. He pressed the address into the palm of my hand and said, in gravest confidence, "Please go to this pizzeria. Order the margherita pizza with double mozzarella. If you do not eat this pizza when you are in Naples, please lie to me later and tell me that you did."
So Sofie and I have come to Pizzeria da Michele, and these pies we have just ordered - one for each of us - are making us lose our minds. I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return. I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair. Meanwhile, Sofie is practically in tears over hers, she's having a metaphysical crisis about it, she's begging me, "Why do they event bother trying to make pizza in Stockholm? Why do we even bother eating food at all in Stockholm?"
LOL, and the craziest thing about this is my daughter just married a guy from Naples, so there may be plans afoot to visit there. Gluten and dairy be damned. I will be trying the best pizza in the world if I do make it over there!
10 months ago