What Are You Hungry For?

Saturday was the start of the new rugby season, so Fionnuala and I hugged the touchline, to watch Adam play for his college against one of the big Belfast schools. Unfortunately they lost, but didn’t go down without a fight. Adam had a great game and scored his team’s only try. I thought he was our best player but then I’m his father so that’s to be expected. Afterwards, therefore, I was relieved to hear his coach agree with my assertion.

He informed me that, given his performance, Adam was being moved up to the first team for next weekend’s match. We were delighted to hear this as it has been his target all summer and he has worked hard towards attaining it. He will now be playing against boys up to two years older than him, at a much higher level. It’s a steep learning curve but one that he needs to take in order to fulfil the potential within him.

The coach also told me that he did not want Adam progressing too quickly into the first team as he wanted to ‘keep him hungry.’ If he reached his target too easily then that could impact upon his motivation and determination for the rest of the year. Adam has talent and a strong work ethic but to be the best that he possibly can requires more than that; it requires a desire or drive that cannot be taught.

Whenever I’m training for marathons, which is most of the time, I’m permanently hungry. I think about eating all day long. I don’t view myself as greedy, rather I need to eat a lot to replace the calories I burn up on training runs. This allows me to eat pretty much whatever I want. Which means ALL the ice cream. I dread the day I have to stop running as I will probably put on three stone in a week.

We normally associate the word with the physical discomfort experienced through a lack of food. But the wider definition fits better with the etymological roots of the word. Hunger derives from the Old English word ‘hungor’, meaning desire. It goes beyond growling stomachs and yo-yo diets. When we hunger after something, we desire it, we yearn for it, we crave it.

Hunger, within this context, is a double edged sword. While we identify the physical experience of hunger with negative emotions, it is construed as a positive attribute for a young rugby player like Adam, striving to progress in his given sport. To aspire to better yourself, to improve reflects a healthy mindset. We need targets in life, or at least I know I do. For otherwise, we stagnate and become bored.

Flip the coin again, however, and we can hunger after unhealthy desires. Desires that lead us down the wrong path. An unhealthy appetite, if allowed to run unchecked, can result in more than indigestion. It can bring destruction and ruin to your life and the lives of those you love the most. Collateral damage is still damage. Be hungry, but hunger after those things which are going to supplement your life, not suffocate it.

What are your thoughts on hunger and desire after reading this post?

32 thoughts on “What Are You Hungry For?

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  1. Way to go Adam! First this post made me think , just wait until you get past age 50, you can run and run and still can weight. It’s totally unfair. Second, I thought of how our appetites and cravings can become damaged in various ways and we can no longer trust them. And how certain processed foods and fast foods are engineered to cause us to crave them. It’s diabolical.

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  2. Another excellent post, and I love the way Adam’s coach understands that he needs to pace himself. Yes, he wants to be the best, but sometimes staying hungry is the key to learning all the lessons required.

    At the moment – I hunger for nothing. There are things I’d like to see differently, but that’s up to me, isn’t it?

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  3. Great question for pondering. Beyond my perpetual stomach/food hunger, the thing I probably hunger after most is to be able to know I might have played even a small part in helping another person’s eyes open to the joy and wonder of life.

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  4. Unhealthy hunger can sometimes be caused by ignoring our feelings..or the attempt by others to get our attention. Cause they may need something and we aren’t hearing..a hunger from them to us to be heard.
    Stop..look..listen.
    Just s thought

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  5. Clearly the answer to my poor diet habits is that I need to train for a marathon.
    I loved your etymology lesson, in all seriousness. My decade-long ennui and frustration with life’s futility is that I have repressed any hungers (hungor) for the sake of the rest of the family.

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  6. So true!!! It is healthy to have that hunger in some circumstances. I think I need a stronger hunger for consistent writing.

    I finished ch. 1 with critiques. I haven’t been feeling as well this week but hope to do about one to two chapters a day at least.

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