How to Be Hungry [Part I]

Photo courtesy of emospada (Stock.Xchng)

 

In our modern society of constant innovation and progress, we know nothing of hunger.

We drop change into cups held out by homeless hands, we watch documentaries of little faces with wide eyes and distended bellies.

Yet we know nothing of hunger.

We claim to be famished five hours after the last meal, we starve ourselves for days with bikinis and swim trunks in mind as warmer weather blows closer.

And still, we know nothing of hunger.

Hunger that feels like acid eating away at the stomach.

Hunger that looks like cellophane skin pulled over bones.

Hunger that sounds like whimpers close to bedtime.

 

In our modern society of constant innovation and progress, the majority of us never experience true hunger. We opt for lemon juice and cayenne pepper diets, fat-free dairy products, and temperature-controlled gyms.

We snack between meals, we snack between snacks.

And it has nothing to do with hunger.

We eat to manage stress, we eat to find comfort, we eat out of boredom.

We eat to fill the gaping voids in our lives.

At the end of a long day at work, we raid the cabinets to blanket feelings of dissatisfaction and purposelessness. Post-breakup, we drown that nagging rejection with alcohol and comfort foods drizzled with hot fudge. During creative blocks, we make frequent trips to the kitchen or break room, if only to avoid the glare of the blank screen.

Why do we eat?

Because we fear the questions that come with being still, being hungry.

Is there purpose to my life?

Will I die alone?

What if I fall flat on my back?

 

We fill ourselves with everything but the truth.

But perhaps we need to sit hungry – at the kitchen table, on the bathroom floor, at the office desk – and ask ourselves those difficult questions.

Perhaps we need to begin filling our souls and not our bellies.

Perhaps we need to analyze our living, our stories.

Because we need to recognize the bitter truths in our lives before we can uncover the beautiful ones.

I have purpose.

I am loved.

I cannot fail.

 

In the summer of 2011, I sat hungry and still long enough to face the discontent in my heart. I wept, I worried, I took in a U2 concert.

And then I made a change.

 

Those moments of fasting will feed your craft.

Carve out the emotions masked as hunger, and mold those fears, those doubts, those insecurities into something called art.

It might get bloody, and it might look black and blue, but in the end, it’ll look a whole lot more likeliving.

Neither art nor life ever promised to be comfortable.

 

Are you comfortable?