by Erika Townsend
As I sat in a packed theatre of the movie “Eat Pray Love” with my pizza, water and a side of guilt, I wondered what clues the universe had for me that day. Earlier I had decided to take myself out on a date. But as much as my spirit told me I needed a break, my mind reminded me that I had responsibilities to family, home, school and work. I had wasted enough time lamenting over my to-do list, which is a fixture in my life, so why should I deserve more “me” time? So what if the walls were closing in on me, I had work to do!
Nevertheless, after seeking permission from family and friends, I silenced the responsibilities screaming at me and put on a pretty sun dress. Not to go to work. Not to run errands or pick up my daughter from school. Not to please my husband. I did it for me and it felt almost as good as the 20 minute steaming hot shower I had taken moments before. As I combed my hair, I looked over at the carpet that needed to be vacuumed and decided, “Not right now.” As I drove to the theatre, I thought about the ten page paper that was already past due and decided, “It will have to wait.” My spirit had an appointment that could not be canceled.
As Julia Roberts gorged on all of the wonderful Italian food in the movie, I treasured every bite of my store-bought pizza. As she fought for focus to meditate, I fought my feelings of guilt. As she transitioned from relationships, my own heart made some major transitions: I felt a release from the shackles that I had placed on myself.
Then, as I left the theatre, the weirdest thing happened: There was a monstrous rumble of thunder followed by a spine-chilling crack of lightening. As I strolled to my car thinking this was a sign of the selfish decision I had made, I didn’t even notice the lady beside me running to her car. She rolled down her window and said with a chuckle, “You must be very brave! As soon as I heard that thunder I ran to my car, but you kept on walking like nothing happened!”
She was right; I had been brave and maybe this was the universe confirming my choice to put me first for a change. Not only that, but the movie helped to reinforce the importance of controlling the mind. There are times when following your heart can put you in danger, but there are also times when doing so can be your saving grace. Finding a balance between the two is the secret to happiness. As it turned out, I was able to enjoy my “date” and get everything done on my to-do list. The icing on the cake was my appetite for putting myself first that evening!