At this time in my life as I’ve allowed myself to fall in love again, I would say her words on love touch my soul in profound ways.
Every great author and some who never achieve world-wide acclaim has affected our lives in a multitude of ways. Toni Morrison’s work is in a class by itself. Maybe right up there with Maya Angelou.
I will let her words speak to you in honor of her memory.
“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”
“Something that is loved is never lost.”
“To get to a place where you could love anything you chose, not to need permission for desire, well now that was freedom.”
“Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind.”
It is the courage of authors like Toni that have opened their hearts and bared their souls, that gave me the guts to write the stories that I write. My memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On is so personal and revealing it took me years before I would publish it.
“Make up a story. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” Toni Morrison
So I went on and wrote about a 50 year-old-woman and her 20-year-old lover inTarget in the Sun. And then I exposed the lives of several male prostitutes in Mexico writing in the first person as Layla, in Lie To Me, again opening myself to major criticism, but also an award for Contemporary Fiction Social Issues.
It’s not easy to reveal yourself because that’s what I do when I write. Yes, my books are “fiction” but as in the current Daniel Silva book The New Girl, our stories are often based on fact. Some hide it better than others.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison
published this morning: Elizabeth Gilbert on FaceBook
Dear Ones: It’s a beautiful spring day in my corner of the world, life is everywhere bursting forth with a sense of rebirth and renewal, and this seems like as good a moment as any to tell you that I am in love. Please meet my sweetheart, Mr. Simon MacArthur. He’s a photographer from the U.K. — a beautiful man who has been a friend of mine for years. (Even more touchingly, Simon was a beloved friend of Rayya’s for decades. They lived together in London over 30 years ago, and they adored each other forever like siblings. This, as you can imagine, means the world to me.) Of late, Simon and I have found our way to each other’s arms. And now here we are, and his heart has been such a warm place for me to land. I share this news publicly, despite the fact that our love story is so new and young and tender, for a few reasons. For one thing, I just wanted to say: If you see me walking around with a tall handsome man on my arm, don’t be buggin’. Just know that your girl is happy, and following her heart. But also this: I will always share anything personal about my life, if it could help someone else feel more normal about their life. SO…if you have lost a loved one to death, and you thought you’d never love again, but you are feeling a pull of attraction toward someone new, and you’re not sure if that’s OK? Let me normalize it for you. Let me say: It’s Ok. Your heart is a giant cathedral. Let it open. Let it love. Do not let your beautiful loyalty to the deceased stop you from experiencing the marvels and terrors of your short, mortal, precious life. It’s OK to live, and to love. Or…if you are falling in love in middle age and it’s terrifying, because you feel just as dumb and crazy and excited and insecure as you did at 16? Well, let me normalize this for you. It’s OK. You will always feel 16 when you are falling in love. Or…if you once loved a man and then you loved a woman, and then you loved a man, and you’re wondering if that’s ok? Well, darling. Let me normalize that for you. It’s OK. Love who you love. It’s all OK, and it’s all impossible to control, and it’s all an adventure that I will not miss. That’s all I wanted to say. Onward, and I love you all.
Why does everything Elizabeth Gilbert says and does make me cry? She’s truly a woman of our times. Her life has crossed paths with mine in truly memorable ways. Jeanne Proteau I don’t know if you will remember before I left Mexico in 2007 to drive back to Canada, I met and spoke to a young woman from the US who had recently graduated from University. Her first job was working as a publicist for then-unknown author, Elizabeth Gilbert. I remember the conversation vividly because I was about to embark on a life-changing journey that would introduce me to a man with whom I would fall deeply in love. In my memoir, I refer to him as my cowboy.
While driving into the US through the Arizona border, I stopped at a mall for food. In front of me was a huge display of the book Eat Pray Love. I can picture the stand of books in front of me at this very moment. That’s when I bought my first copy of her treasured memoir. This past year a reviewer compared my LOVE The Beat Goes On to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love memoir. I was honored, and reminded that we can be stuck in our lives or take action. It will always be our choice. And today, as many of you know, I have again pulled up roots and embarked on a journey of a lifetime. I created my own EPL journey that started in Dallas, then Paris, New Delhi, Agra–for the amazing Taj Mahal–then Goa India, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and now I’m in Thailand.
I think about how her book had such a tremendous effect on generations of women who felt trapped in their lives and needed permission to break free. It doesn’t surprise me that her best friend and lover Rayya–who died last year– sent Liz an old friend to help heal her broken heart and show her love again.
I’ve often been told I overshare (in not so many words) but I guess it’s a writer thing. I wouldn’t have it any other way.