I think a lot about the minute changes in my body over time. It’s the former nurse in me, always wondering what meaning lies behind today’s aches and pains and lumps. Like every good student of anatomy and physiology, I came out of nursing school a closet hypochondriac. I take note of every twinge and every change, and I’ve come to the conclusion that nearly all of it comes down to a battle with Father Time.
There’s a word for this kind of awareness: kinesthesia. It’s defined as ‘an awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body by means of sensory organs in the muscles and joints’. I know what kinesthesia does to me when I let my mind run riot over the changes in my physical body. It makes me curiously aware of the way my body moves to the rhythms of daily life. I started thinking about this awareness as it relates to my inner self, how so much of what I want to do and say feels like a tensing of the muscles, like a deep ache, like a fire shut up in my bones.
I read an article some time ago about how often we (specifically runners) overestimate how many calories we need for our bodies to perform well. One doctor said he regularly runs twelve miles on an empty stomach, at which the writer responded in much the same way I would–with complete incredulity. What?! Why? How? The man replied, “You have to grow comfortable with feeling the hunger.” Apparently, feeling hungry never hurt any body. As one who suffers from unpleasant emotional incidents when Hangry, I beg to differ. But I digress.
Feeling hunger in the physical sense is unpleasant, but feeling it in your soul and your spirit? When not satiated, it feels like starvation. It feels like withering away to skin and bones. It feels deadly. I feel the hunger, a kinesthesia of the soul, I feel it right down to every sensory cell. And if I’m honest, I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know whether the hunger should motivate me to push further and harder, or if perhaps I must learn to sit with it. Hold the hunger in my hands, acknowledge I have all that I need, and let it go. Is this the meaning of contentment?
I want more for myself, I feel the pangs of it contracting in my gut, but I don’t know when to say enough is enough. When will I have seen enough, experienced enough, learned and worked and lived enough? Where does one draw the line and say–this will satiate me for today. I don’t know. I wish could flip through the textbook for answers, but all I have is my hunger and my awareness of it.
As I sit with the questions, I eat my daily bread and pray it will be enough to sustain me over many miles, regardless of what my body tells me.
What are you hungry for? Are you actively working towards feeding it, or have you grown comfortable with the feeling?