Tonight I had a spiritual experience eating a hot dog.
If this was a texting conversation, this is the point when I would feel shamefully sacrilegious and immediately send “lol, jk… but it was a special moment for me.”
Really, though; tonight I ate one of the best hot dogs that I’ve had in recent memory. It was good for several reasons. First, it was delicious which automatically makes for a good experience. Second, I roasted it over a campfire and ate it with dear friends. Third—I was hungry.
What was so notable about this was that making and eating that hot dog gave me actual joy.
The strange thing was, later that night I ate another hot dog from the same package. I cooked it about the same way, and I ate it with the same people—yet it was mediocre at best.
I realized that the only thing different about the first and second hot dogs was that when I ate the first one I was hungry. It had been a full day; I’d volunteered at a disc golf tournament and done prom makeup and in the busyness I hadn’t eaten anything. When I ate that first hotdog, sure I wanted food, but I also needed it. The joy in eating the hot dog came primarily from the fact that it fulfilled my hunger.
Today, we live in a society where we have the option to be filled with something all of the time. It makes me feel afraid that when what is truly beautiful is in front of us, we won’t even want it, because we’re not hungry for it anymore.
For example, often the first thing that I want to do when I wake up is look at social media. It’s such a habit for me now that I feel like I need to. Instead of craving real human interaction, I crave watching other people living their lives on a screen and I think that in the end I’m satisfied. Surely that was my dream as a little girl—to watch other people live their lives from my iPhone screen.
I’ve seen breakups before that, at first, seemed crushing. Until all of a sudden, those two people began to realize that they’ve pushed off vital parts of their life—like friends and their spiritual life—because they were so entranced with the other person. Suddenly they can see all of the vastness of life that they’ve missed. I’ve seen two people who thought they only needed each other gain a renewed hunger for the comfort of friends and the fulfillment and furtherance of other meaningful relationships and passions that they forgot
they even had.
I’ve seen versions of this many times in life. And I believe that lost relationships, lost directions and lost phones can sometimes be the best thing to happen to us. Because sometimes it takes looking away from one thing to ever look at something better.
We need to stop reading twitter posts and start reading real stories—novels that make our hearts ache for what is behind the sunset. We say we have no time to read, but we spend countless hours scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We are certainly a well-read generation, but I think it’s time to ask if what we’re reading contributes to our well-being. We need stories, imagination, creativity and hope.
Most of all, I want to urge you, along with myself, to learn to hunger for what is truly fulfilling and stop filling yourself with pseudo sustenance for your souls. There is real beauty and goodness and grace to find. Let’s stop filling ourselves with cheap fast food and learn to make home-cooked meals. Let’s stop watching other people live their lives and start living our own. Let’s stop filing ourselves with the useless stuff and make room for what will nourish, inspire and revive us. Let’s starve ourselves of some things that we’ve become addicted to so that we can hunger after real life—a life that doesn’t come into crisis when our phones die. Let’s learn to let beauty catch our attention again. Let’s go hungry, so we can be filled.