Today I got up close and personal with Elizabeth Gilbert....yes, that Elizabeth Gilbert. The Elizabeth Gilbert of "Eat Pray Love" fame. She was in my little hamlet promoting her latest work "Committed" and was speaking at the community college. The up close part is that I was seated third row center. The personal part is that when I raised my hand during the Q & A segment, she looked at me, called on me and answered my question. That's fairly personal, wouldn't you say?
She looked like a writer to me. Her hair was a bit messy and her attire was casually comfortable. She was wearing little, if any, makeup and stylish but sensible shoes. All of this gave you the impression that she just stepped away from her computer, mid-sentence, to have a little chat with us.
She was engaging and genuine and well-spoken. She was funny. She was self-deprecating when it seemed appropriate. She was appreciative of our interest in her work.
Many of the audience members seemed to be under some sort of hero worship spell, but I don't think Gilbert cast the spell intentionally or even wanted it cast on her behalf. She seemed too real to be the type to languish in others' worship of her or even feel worthy of said worship. But it seems if you write a successful book about finding your own spiritual path, the lost masses think you can help them find their own path too. There was an uncomfortable moment when Gilbert was asked by one particular woman how to commence her own spiritual journey when she didn't have the means to travel the world for a length of time to find herself, as Gilbert had done. It was sort of a "can you tell me who I am? 'cause I don't know" kind of moment. Gilbert answered gracefully, but I don't think the woman got the answer she was hoping for.
And just so you know, that woman was NOT the woman sitting in third row center. My question was directly about what she is working on now and had nothing to do with assisting me on my spiritual journey. That's a road you have to travel on your own.