Why Is Hunger Trending?

I want to know why I have the urge to go scampering for change at the sound of a popsicle truck. Don’t you? Even when I’m not hungry, as if pavlov’s dog, I’ve been conditioned to respond to specific types of stimuli. Maybe it’s time I open myself to a wider variety of responses, expand my self-inflicted boundaries, “take off the tight shoe,” as Ram Dass is known to say.

Last week I found myself salivating over a new book, leftovers, and unscheduled time. I did not detect a relationship until much later (searching for a blog topic much?) but it seems apparent I have some latent passions that clearly ring my bell. Not that I feel the need to explain myself, but this is a blog, and I’m sort of compelled to justify my obscure avidities. If not for you, for me, and my unruly nemesis…curiosity. Some people refer to it as self-reflection, it’s actually considered artistry in some circles, an epistolary to thyself. I pray it is my talent but I fear it is merely a compulsion to elucidate my motives. Why is hunger trending?

I have a theory or two concerning my ravenous appetite for books but the prominent one begins with my Mom. Fifty years ago, when I was a wee one, and just learning to read my mother signed me up for a children’s book club. At the beginning of each month I received a package in the mail. It would arrive encased in cardboard with my name on the address label. Cheryl Lynn Johnson. The excitement is difficult to capture but I remember the intense joy of ripping the pull cord, releasing the enclosed book, feeling the weight of it in my hand, the smell of fresh literature, studying the whimsical illustrations, and slowly flipping through the crisp pages. When finally my mother could no longer tolerate the pleading, she would sit down with a cup of coffee, and read with me.

There are no adequate words to describe the experience of reading with a parent, tucked in the curve of her arm, the sound of her gentle voice, totally focused on me. This is soul level nourishment, and by this I mean, “I think that sometimes life and language break each other open to change, that a rupture in one can be a rapture in the other, that sometimes there are, as it were, words underneath the words—even the very Word underneath the words,” notes Christian Wiman. To me this is the prolificacy of literature, as inexplicable as the incarnation, and undoubtedly why I am so smitten with Amazon. 

If reading out loud is important, it doesn’t matter if it is to a child, a car full of children, a class of thirty students, or simply breaking the silence of your own room. I was reading a David Whyte poem to my students a few weeks ago as opening prayer to our class, the same one I read as grace at a recent dinner party, and the impact is palatable. “One good word” can give you pause, instigate latent emotions, and at times reveal a deep, and abiding reverence for life.
“This is not the age of information.
This is not the age of information.

Forget the news, and the radio, and the blurred screen.

This is the time of loaves and fishes.

People are hungry, and one good word is bread for a thousand.”

David Whyte

I’m beginning to realize we hunger for a lot of things and sometimes I use food to satisfy these longings. “There are some hungers that only an endless commitment to emptiness can feed, and the only true antidote to the plague of modern despair is an absolute, and perhaps even annihilating, awe,” notes Christian Wiman. 

I’ve been known to release an “annihilating awe” when leftovers are discovered in the refrigerator. In fact my consistent use of “awe” when taking that first bite of food has become the family joke. One Thanksgiving when we had a large number of people join us for dinner my sister set up a second table in one of the kids room for the young adults. The minute grace was done and a symphony of forks hit our collective plates I noticed not a sound could be heard from the back room? Until… I took my first bite, followed by the customary “awe,” and this is when a rather exuberant cheer rose up from the back of the house, as the children noisily mocked the sound of my pleasure. At first I was mildly insulted until I realized they noticed something about me that I had not. Sometimes God comes to us in the form of food, if so, I am merely responding to the presence of the sacred. Bon appetit!

“Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters.” Kahlil Gibran

Hunger is most definitely trending. Consider the way we’ve lost sight of the value of unmitigated time, a personal sabbath, an unhurried moment to linger with your thoughts? On occasion I forget my own worthiness (can you imagine) because I fall under the false impression that my value is tied to a list of accomplishments. But the length of our to do list is not a valid measurement of our worth. I am granting myself permission to linger over coffee at the cusp of each day, to sit in the garden if only to passively count my breaths, or snuggle with my grand babies phoneless, thoughtless, enmeshed in the rich flavors of life. 

“The frontier 
between silence and speech 
the line you must cross 
to give yourself 
while saving yourself”
David Whyte

I believe the question of our “trending” hunger might be the most important question we ask ourselves in this life. What belies our true hunger? Could the answer to the question have something to do with bells? I believe it does, “every life is an answer to this question, whether we address it consciously or not,” says Christian Wiman. I will probably always salivate over new books, leftovers, and unscheduled time but at least I’m aware of the relationship between that which I hunger and my most deeply held beliefs. As I approach the pinnacle of my life, I am seeking, savoring, and listening with a new intensity, coming as close as possible to the self, leaning into the curve of my own arm. 
I’m Living in the Gap, stuffing my face, nose in a book, totally unaware of the time.
Notes to self:
  1. Order more books.
  2. Read with Audrey.
  3. Lose the watch.


Leave a Comment

  1. Very nice read. I don't often read articles that are so thought-provoking. Usually I'm immersed in personal growth, business development; yet, this article gave way to a peaceful journey, outside of my normal routine. All I can say is \”awe\”.


  2. Carla, you just took my ragged day, and turned it into silk! I’m so glad you let your eyes slide over these words and enjoyed a peaceful journey! That is the most I could hope for with every post! Thank you for that wonderful “awe.” Come back again soon.


  3. I agree Shirley, reading is such an extraordinary pleasure, not only expanding our knowledge (nice post linked above – I checked it out!), but stories can change the way we view the world. Thank you for your kind words! Hope to see you again soon.


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