"What are you hungry for when you don't know what you're hungry for?" This old advertising slogan came to me suddenly today, suddenly and as an epiphany. Or maybe an anti-epiphany. For months, and more, I have felt consumed by a hunger, a need, desire, craving, urge. Call it what you will, it has been a driving force behind many of my actions this last year or two. But I have no idea what it truly is. I feel it, buzzing inside my skull, behind my eyelids, in my chest, perched on my shoulder. An Imp with a cattle prod. It forces me to action time and again. But why? What is it? Where is it herding me? Guiding me? Forcing me? I chose wrong paths, make poor decisions, because I do not know what it is I am needing, what I need to feed this hunger. It is not a void, I am not empty. It is more like a ravishing hunger caused by a mineral deficiency. There is no easy explanation for the cravings, just an instinctual need to satisfy them.
I have tried the plebeian remedies. I have followed traditional paths. I have tested tepid waters. It is not what I need. It is as if I were trying to stave off the cravings with dry saltines, it may work for a brief moment, but then the cravings are back harder than before. The force of this hunger has been astonishing as I blunder about sampling one thing after another. Tasting and discarding. Too bland. Too dry. Too mealy. Too mushy. As much as I wish I were one to be satisfied with bland, mundane, gentle fair, I am not. I am likely to only be satisfied with acidic, acerbic, salty, fiery, spicy fair that will panic my palette, terrorize my trachea, steamroll my stomach and devastate my digestive tract. I am not one who can be satisfied with the easy choice, the comfortable path, the white bread world. As much as I shelter myself from the nausea inducing drama of the world around me, I am none the less drawn to a level of stress and anxiety. True,often self-induced, self-inflicted, and self-contained. Maybe I am addicted to stress? But that is not the right fit either. It is much deeper than that.
As I have been stumbling from one ineffectual remedy to another, trying to force myself into a path that should be deemed acceptable and that of least resistance, I find myself reaching out to try and taste what should be forbidden fruit. I reach for the acerbic, the raw, the bitter, the spicy. I touch it and know it is what I crave. But still, I pull back, fearful of the ramifications, the potential for major upset. I taste it upon my fingers, tongue tingling with the intensity, making my mouth water in anticipation. But I draw away, unsure. Reaching out, touching, tasting, its fragrance on the wind teasing me further. The hunger is strong. Overpowering. But I know that there is no one cure, no one remedy, no easy fix. I know my life is not destined to be peaceful and easy, no matter how I shelter myself. But as I shelter my body, allow a peaceful setting to surround me, I know I can risk heart and mind to find what it is that is driving me. I feel I am closer to understanding this hunger, this need, my cravings. As I have tested and discarded the bland and easy, I know the flavor I am looking for will be anything but. What are you hungry for when you don't know what you're hungry for? Something you just haven't tasted yet.