Ruin is the road to transformation.

“Ruin is the road to transformation.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat. Pray. Love.

I just watched “Eat. Pray. Love.” for the first time. Admittedly, “watched” is not exactly accurate. I definitely didn’t finish before falling asleep during the “Pray” phase and then promptly waking up in the middle of “Love” with a slight cough attack, due to a sore throat I inherited about 3 hours ago.

But the fragments of what I took in from the movie got me thinking as I lay here next to my sleeping bestie. The above quote stood out in particular, so much so that I jotted it down before my first attempt at dozing off. The metaphor runs deep and relatable for me right now: As cliche’s often go, what’s-her-name is reflecting among the ruins in Rome when it occurs to her that her own life is in ruins and she’ll have to rebuild. Centuries of weather and decay and yet people still come from all over the world to marvel at the magnificent view of the ruined architecture abound. Renovations here and there have kept these pieces sturdy and tall, and though they’ve changed and evolved over the years, the original framework remains, and it’s even more special because of it.

Ergo, ruined ≠ finished, ruined = an opportunity to transform.

Over the past 5 months I’ve often felt like my own life was in ruins. In fact, I can distinctly remember a phone call with my friend where I actually said the words, “my life is in ruins.” I had to pick myself up off the floor and dig through the confines of my soul to figure out what came next and come up with a plan out of nothing but thin air and untapped imagination. How would I rebuild this life that was seemingly in piles on the ground? Distressed piles of friends, family, apartments, jobs, all strewn together in one large dump that I’d eventually have to sort through one by one. I was scared and frustrated and defeated by the mess of life before me.

What I didn’t realize was that this metaphorical dump I’ve been picturing in my head is less like a landfill and more like a cobblestone path: rugged and uneven, but actually pretty beautiful and full of charm. I’m beginning to see a transformed image of what my life is, right now, in front of me. It’s still the same me — my story continues on, but with a different backdrop, plot line, and cast of characters. However, the original framework has somehow remained in tact. Maybe I’m the only one surprised to learn that I’m still here and I’m still me. Definitely not ruined, but definitely transformed.

I wish I had been able to piece this all together as it was happening, but I suppose that’s the beauty of it; looking back on the ruin and realizing it’s actually not ruin at all, it’s just a transformed version of the structure of your life, with just a little more character now.