Dear Ones –

At every stop on Oprah's The Life You Want Tour, I've found myself saying these words, to people who are looking to create their own journey of self-transformation:

"Don't do what I did. Ask what I asked."

I've been reminding people that they don't need to get divorced and move to India, just because I did. I've met several women over the past decade who have literally followed in my exact footsteps, trying to recreate the entire EAT PRAY LOVE journey for themselves — step by step. They went all the way to Naples to eat the pizza I ate, and they tracked down the same Ashram in India, and they found their way Bali to meet my healer (and to look for a nice Brazilian man, while they were at it.)

I recently met a woman who did all these things, and then complained to me, "But it didn't work! I didn't find myself and I didn't find love!"

Listen, don't get me wrong — I am not protective of my story. I do not own the rights to Italy or India or Indonesia, and I LOVE it whenever anybody makes an effort to seek adventure….but still: Never forget that your path is not mine.

For a journey of self-discovery to work, your path must be your own. And you will find that path not by eating the same pizza I ate (though it is awesome!) but by asking the same questions I asked. These questions: "Who am I? Who is God? What have I come here to do? What brings ME to life?"

Those questions — I promise you — will lead you to your very own quest.

At the moment, I am in love with this poem by David Whyte , called START CLOSE IN, in which he beautifully unfolds the truth about how to begin your journey — your very own journey.

You start with the first step, Whyte tells us. Not the second, not the third. Not someone else's. You start "close in" — with that vital first step, close to home, close to where you live, close to the earth…the step that you do not want to take, because it will change everything. But that's where it must begin — with that first baby step, close to YOU.

But what I love most about this poem is the ending, where Whyte reminds us not to try to follow in anyone else's heroic path, but to forge our own. Do not go walking on paths that are not yours, he warns.

"Don't mistake that other for your own."

Forge on, dear ones! Forge on.

And if you would like to watch a beautiful video of David Whyte reading this entire poem (in his delicious Yorkshire accent), click here:


via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall