How to Be Hungry [Part II]

Photo courtesy of ProLife (Stock.Xchng)

 

Hunger rarely has to do with food.

We hear it all the time in music, in literature, in conversations. She hungers for love, he hungers for purpose, they hunger for God.

We hunger for so much in life: attention, respect, honesty, freedom, friendship, romance, worth, meaning, direction, redemption.

I could go on. I could fill this post with all the things we hunger after in life.

Because we are hungry people.

Even though foods line our grocery store aisles. Even though restaurants line our Main Streets.

We are starving.

And yet instead of looking inward, we soothe those pangs with short-term fixes, something to distract us from the emptiness we’re feeling.

When we hunger for romance, we rent sentimental movies and lose ourselves in the boy-meets-girl plot. Reality begins to blur, and our heart rates quicken when the protagonist first glimpses what we predict will be  “the one.” At the end, our brains buzz with endorphins – whether from the proposal scene in the rain or the chocolate, they’re buzzing just the same.

For a little while. Until the click of the remote plunges us into the silence of loneliness and longing.

When we hunger for camaraderie, we settle in with popcorn and watch witty sitcoms, the ones where the characters sit around the same booth every night and drink brews and crack intelligent jokes. Once again reality begins to blur, and our grins fade into warm smiles when the friends rescue the protagonist from whatever situation he got himself into, the final scene a group hug that we wish we could join.

And then our stomachs growl, and we feel the loneliness and longing again.

I have nothing against great cinema and television. I love to laugh and cry and sit enthralled in movie theaters every now and again. But if we’re not careful, we could pass lifetimes like this, stuffing ourselves with phony realities instead of living this one true reality.

I know this because I’m cut from the same cloth.

I waste my time night after night, seeking friendship from characters that live in studios, seeking meaning in inspirational plots, seeking self-worth in glitzy advertisements.

Seeking redemption in places that have no right to promise redemption.

So here’s what I propose:

Let yourself get hungry. Don’t reach for the remote, don’t type in Netflix.

Wait for the fears to come creeping in with the hunger. They look large and spine-tingling, but they lurk in us whether we acknowledge them or not. Whether we repress them or not. So we might as well go to war.

We might as well go to the mattresses.

Hold those fears at gunpoint, peer down the barrel to get a good look at them. Because you’ll see them again and again. And you’ll battle them again and again.

It’s when we refuse to fill our deepest hungers with alternate realities that we gain a little confidence. Stand a little taller.

Take ourselves a little more seriously.

Because we are writers, photographers, musicians, business creators, cooks, sculptors, carpenters, and the world needs us to live in this reality.

The world needs us to recognize our hungers and create from them. Not hide away in TV and movies. Not waste our precious minutes in wishing what isn’t there.

Wishing gets us nowhere.

And it all begins with hunger.

 

Do you struggle with this like me?