Here is Part 2 of My Stomach and My Soul…
I am having a colonoscopy tomorrow morning, so today is just liquids.
A day without solid food. I could scream on one hand, on the other, it is just a day! This time tomorrow I will be eating a big, delicious, very solid lunch.
But it triggers all my infancy and childhood starvations in my belly and in my developing soul. I honestly felt a little panic – could I do it? Could I deny myself my yummy breakfast, the snack breaks, the deciding what to eat for lunch, the preparing of my supper, even the milk in my tea?
In my childhood, I was starved for consistency and stability, sometimes for safety. I never got enough soothing or enough stimulating. I got praise, but it never tasted of encouragement.
But real food was comfort…Early on in my childhood I learned I could always make my mother happy (and she was often quite depressed) by eating well and I still remember with little girl pride bringing my parents breakfast in bed that I had made all by myself when I was four. So food, preparing and eating, represents relief from stress, enjoyment even when things are bad, an essential soother of tension, overwhelm, exhaustion.
And now I have gone 18 hours without food and I have 22 hours to go. There are hunger pangs in my empty belly, but worse there is a nagging threat in my soul – can I manage without my comfort – the smelling, the tasting, the chewing and swallowing?
There is another new physical, emotional and spiritual experience peeking through my imagination — the blessing of knowing I can live with hunger. Granted I am not life threatened and I have a refrigerator full of food. But what if I choose to experience the gurgles in my stomach as a sign of a managed life, of the ability to self-deny for a good reason, to delight in discipline and to just be with an unpleasantness until it reveals a truth?
Truly, building an imagination about my relationship to hunger, writing down my thoughts and feelings, wondering what your relationship is to hunger, is what my adult self does and it actually calms my little girl soul triggers.
In the recent survey (results coming soon) I asked you about your concerns. So many your responses were about satisfying a hunger, filling an emptiness, tasting the good, meaningful life, being financially, morally, and spiritually nourished. Food the great metaphor for sustaining a good feeling of self.
Let me ask you about your hunger for solid soul food…
How do you experience hunger? Can you go without with equanimity and know peace in emptiness? Does hunger empower you to feed your soul, manifest your gifts, change your circumstances? Or does hunger cause helplessness, weakness, despair? And what about appetite and hunger? Are you ever hungry but have no appetite? Do you hunger for the best or for whatever you can get?
Wisdom lives in questions.
Now for some fun…If we stay with the food metaphor and remember Auntie Mame saying “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” Let’s imagine a banquet of soul nourishing aspects of life that we can provide for ourselves. Begin with appetizers, then go for the deserts. And finally the entrees and side dishes?
For me appetizers are inspirations, maybe a reading a good poem or magazine article, or seeing a challenging movie. Desserts are a long soaking bath, writing a poem, saying a prayer of thanks. And the main course…for me anywhere from a yoga workout to finishing designing a course, or spending the afternoon with a grandchild.
Enjoy your banquet, every morsel of it.