Elizabeth Gilbert’s Uncertain Certainty

Having read Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Eat, Pray, Love twice has allowed me to fully appreciate the raw, trutful, and comedic genius of her writing. Gilbert’s struggle with her inner demons and her incredible journey back to happiness and self acceptance has been a source of inspiration for me on many occasions. I just love the way this woman expressess herself on paper and in interviews. Below you will find an interesting article she wrote and here is a fascinating talk, Elizabeth Gilbert on Nurturing Creativity she presented at TED.
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What I know for Sure About Certainty By Elizabeth Gilbert
Absolute certainty is not something I strive for anymore. I’ve learned the hard way that destiny usually looks upon our most strident convictions with amusement, or perhaps even pity. (Oh, those silly humans! So desperate for their absolutes!)

Sometimes it seems like the only job of the world is to gently (or not so gently) separate us from our deepest assurances, exposing us once again to that ultimate moral teaching tool: humility.

Of course, it’s not always a pleasant experience to have our certainties stripped away. Sureness is something like a neck brace, which we clamp around our lives, hoping to somehow protect ourselves from the frightening, constant whiplash of change. Sadly, the brace doesn’t always hold. I could list for you a tragicomic litany of all the things I was once mistakenly completely certain about, and I’m sure you can do the same. Maybe you, too, were once absolutely sure that you’d found your great love, or your final best friend, or the perfect mentor, meditation, or medication that would—once and for all—never fail you. And then? Slowly, it seems, we are not so sure after all. Such is our slippery toehold here on Earth, and so it has always been.

Perhaps it is for this reason that the people we instinctively turn to in times of trouble are those who—we sense—have made space within their convictions for doubt and mystery. Compassion grows best, it appears, in the soft spots beneath quiet surrender. So I try very hard to go easy on the firm conclusions. These days I settle for feeling only 85 percent sure about most things, most of the time. I believe this is keeping me sane, and I also believe that it’s keeping me human. In fact, I’m 85 percent sure of it.

Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of Eat, Pray, Love (Penguin).

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