I believe we all have a deep hunger within us, some might call it a deep yearning, but we have a hard time determining what exactly we are hungry for. The big question is, do you know what you are hungry for?
Author Mathew Kelly says, “We may think that our hunger is for one thing, but once we have had our fill of that thing, we discover that the hunger is still there and deeper than ever. I believe if you are honest with yourself, there are times you have to admit “There is something missing in my life.”
Hunger is one of the central themes in A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway’s memoir of his time in Paris as a young man. He speaks about the role hunger plays in the creative process. In modern times those who become incredibly successful also often become soft and comfortable, and are accused of having lost their hunger—the hunger to win, the hunger for excellence, the hunger to be the best, or the hunger to be great.
Hemingway writes about a day he spent walking around Paris with his wife, Hadley. As they walked past the restaurant Michaud’s, they saw the patrons enjoying their meals. Ernest and Hadley decided to splurge and have a feast. He ate like a king, but on the way home realized that the hunger was still there. He thought it was a hunger for food, but it was something subtler and more elusive. At home he made love to his wife, and lying there afterward in the dark, again he realized that he was still hungry.
There were many days during his Paris years when he didn’t eat at all. Hemingway closes the book, which was written more than thirty years after the events it describes, by saying, “Those were the days when we were very poor and very happy.”
I was reading about the life of Sigmund Freud and read that he recognized within himself a deep longing. This longing was a real mystery to him because he could never satisfy it. In fact he said that it was a longing that haunted him all of his life.
Freud never saw it as a spiritual longing because he never believed in God or the human soul. However, I contend that this is what he was actually experiencing; a deep yearning in his soul, a longing that only God can satisfy.
The psychiatrist Gerald G. May observed, “After twenty years of listening to the yearnings of people’s hearts, I am convinced that human beings have an inborn desire for God. Whether we are consciously religious or not, this desire is our deepest longing and most precious treasure.”
C.S. Lewis believed things in this world were never meant to satisfy us. They can bring delight, but not satisfaction. This reminds me of the famous quote by French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal who said, “We all have a God-shaped void in each of our hearts that can only be filled by Christ.”
Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.