Day 29: Personal truths: getting real and re-defining hunger

Have you noticed that I’ve been quiet for a while? I didn’t make a conscious decision to stop writing, but I have been intentionally focusing inward.

This journey of love calls for getting real; finding more places and ways to be truthful with myself and others.

In doing so, I have noticed so many ways in which my vocabulary and the underlying reality don’t match. Words that originally meant one thing have taken on an entirely different essence and truth. I think this is largely an issue of American culture.

Consider the casual definition of “hunger” in America. No doubt, there are people who legitimately use this word, but the vast majority of people I know throw it around thoughtlessly.
I couldn’t begin to count the times I have announced “I’m hungry”, when what I really meant was “I’m bored” or “I’m anxious” or “I’m sad” or “I’m pissed”.

Part of this is due to social conditioning to eat without regard to hunger. Bite by bite, we are taught to override our bodies’ natural signals, and to misuse (and exploit) the sacred energy of food.

I well remember staring down a putrid smelling pile of spinach in the elementary school cafeteria. The adult in charge told me that there were starving children in Ethiopia, therefore I needed to eat everything on my plate.
It was a similar lesson at the babysitter’s. We were not excused to play until we had eaten ALL our vegetables, even those @&!!**&$#* lima beans.

It’s no surprise then that I didn’t REALLY know hungry until this time last year.

What bodily hunger actually IS:
Hunger is an emptiness in the pit of your belly. It’s a hollow aching to be filled. It’s a quiet surrender to the uncomfortable reality of “now”. It’s the cry of life itself, uttered from its most primal, demanding core. It’s a primal, undiluted need to for the body to eat, to be nourished and filled.

What bodily hunger ISN’T:
It is not the ferocious craving for an 800 calorie frappucino after a stressful staff meeting. It’s not the reason for polishing off a bag of potato chips when a friend disappoints. And physical hunger isn’t the reason we enjoy dessert after a nourishing, satisfying dinner.

These latest examples are descriptions of an emotional and/ or spiritual hunger, which is just as real, and just as driving, as our bodies’ physical need for nourishment.

While advice about what to eat abounds, advice about how to meet our sprits’ need for emotional care and sweetness seems to be sorely lacking.

With this realization, I am growing to respect all forms of hunger as natural, essential beats in the precious rhythm of my life. I am learning not to fear it, suppress it, or obsess about it – as society repeatedly suggests we should. I’m choosing simply to allow it, appreciate it, and respond to it in a loving and balanced way, with gratefulness that this is something I am truly willing and able to do.

Care and feeding of body and spirit:

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One Comment on “Day 29: Personal truths: getting real and re-defining hunger

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