‘Banished Immortal’

Elizabeth Gilbert writes lyrics for new music video performed by terminally-ill partner Rayya Elias

Rayya Elias (Vimeo)

Elizabeth Gilbert, the acclaimed author of Eat, Pray, Love, announced the release of a music video performed by her partner, fellow writer Rayya Elias, in an emotional Facebook post on Wednesday. In the Facebook post, Gilbert explained that Elias had been meant to perform a one-woman show in New York City that evening “singing her songs and telling her epic stories,” but that, due to her health, she had been forced to cancel the event. In place of Elias’ show, Gilbert asked that followers watch the music video for the song, “HAPPY HOME,” which she had written to express her feelings about Elias, who suffers from terminal pancreatic and liver cancer.

“I wanted to share with you this video, of a song that Rayya and I wrote together. It’s called HAPPY HOME, and I think it fully captures the intensity of this moment in her life,” wrote Gilbert. “I wrote the lyrics, which are all about Rayya and my love for her. The words are based on … a concept in Chinese mythology called, ‘The Banished Immortal.’”

A “Banished Immortal,” Gilbert explained, was a divine being who had been cast from paradise to “live out one human incarnation here on earth.”

“Because they have a memory of what heaven was like, Banished Immortals are never really at home here on our planet, where there is so much suffering and difficulty. As a result, they always feel alien and out of place, and they often become addicts, or artists, or healers — or all three,” wrote Gilbert. “Banished Immortals just keep trying to find, or create, or disappear into, a sense of heaven here on earth — because they remember what existence is supposed to feel like, and they know it isn’t supposed to hurt this much.”

Elias, Gilbert noted, had been “very ill” when she shot the video — ill enough, in fact, that “you’ll see the pain in her face.” But in the end, Gilbert concluded, it was important to “keep trying to create, for as long as possible.”

“That’s how we find little pockets of paradise on earth, even through all the suffering and loss and pain,” wrote Gilbert.

Watch the music video for “HAPPY HOME” below.


‘Eat, Pray, Love’ author Elizabeth Gilbert holds commitment ceremony with terminally-ill friend turned lover

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