“Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
For as long as I can remember, I have been hungry and restless.
And seeing how it is human nature not to like your own “nature”, no pun intended, I have been deeply envious of those who are the opposite of this: grounded, settled, relaxed, content, and at peace with the process of life.
But maybe, just maybe, restless and hungry are conditions from which we all suffer silently in the windmills of our minds and in the sanctum of our hearts. Maybe we just learn to hide it as we grow up and grow older, and learn to go with the flow because, well, what sense does it make to go against the flow?
Then perhaps, we hide them so much – this hunger and restlessness that eat away at us – that we forget their existence altogether. They become a myth, a fantasy we tell ourselves when no one is listening, because if we admit that we feel this way, we might be misconstrued as ungrateful, we might be labeled as unrealistic.
This cannot be a popular thing in and of itself. Restless for what? Hungry but why? Are you not content with so many countless blessings in your life that you must feel this way? Can you not count your blessings and not make so much trouble and noise please when the rest of us are trying to live a perfectly normal life?
Do you ever feel this way, at least somewhere inside, despite your greatest efforts to create a clandestine front?
It is much easier to talk ourselves out of restless than to face our yearning for something meaningful. It is much easier to forget that we are hungry for something that may take effort, sweat, sleepless nights and sacrifice, and to accept the “food” that we have and stay content.
But fight the urge. Give your hunger a name and honor the restless feeling. Seek to first understand them and then vow to never banish them. Because, you know what, that feeling – that yearning, that restlessness and that hunger may just be your singular chance to uncover your purpose and your calling in life.
Every single one of us has a calling. Period. You can choose to heed its call or turn a deaf ear to it but that doesn’t deny its existence.
First, I associated – or rather, confused – my hunger with ambition. What a foolish girl I was back then! I am not happy, I thought, until I make a lot of money and earn a respectable title in my corporate career. As you see, I’ve never had any qualms about the money part, I have wanted to be obscenely rich since the day we closed the door to our beautiful home in Iran with just two suitcases to go on that 2-week vacation in Turkey that turned into a lifetime journey, and let me tell you, there’s nothing pretty about giving up everything your family owns and start all over again. The price was freedom and well worth it and with my new-found freedom, I was going to make up for the lost riches because struggling for money was nothing short of disgusting, a condition that Tony Robbins articulates marvelously, by the way, when he talks about his own humble beginnings.
So what if it’s not easy to listen to your heart? Who cares about easy? Easy is over-rated. Go for fulfilling. Go for feeding the yearning of your heart. Forget easy. Easy only breaks your heart in your golden years with bitter regret.
So yeah, I was sure for a long time that I was restless for money and ambition so I focused with all my might on a successful career. Then I had a great career and became more restless than before. The more I “succeeded”, in my old wacky ways of measuring success through raises and promotions while working for an entity I could hardly stand, the more hungry I became. I felt like an under-nourished nearly-starved tiger that kept eating all day but never felt satisfied. I had all the food I wanted and it felt empty like air; it did nothing to fill me up. And in fact, it set me on fire a little more than before.
I was badly mistaken at feeding my hunger but that was just the beginning. Next, I turned my attention to hobbies, social life and other distractions to feed this starvation and restlessness.
I thought I was hungry for dancing so I started Argentine Tango. I immersed myself in it for a few years and it was a beautiful distraction from the emptiness in my career. I was sure I am in love with tango! It brought me a lot of happiness over the years no doubt but truth be told, tango never satisfied my hunger either. I just refused to believe it because I wanted it to be so. It would have been so cool, so fun, so sexy to have been hungry for dancing . I wanted to tell that story except it was just a bad lie and alas, this dance came with a lot of liability. I met people who yearned for tango and felt fulfilled in its embrace, but not me. Plus, I was never that good at it. I know I excel at many things but tango was not my gift and a few months ago, I made a decision to stop dancing. For now. Until the time is right again someday. Someday, when I am not so hungry and restless.
Are you feeding your hunger with the wrong food or denying it altogether?
I thought I might be possibly hungry for having babies. After all, the cruel Mother Nature biological clock started ticking on me many years ago, and it has been simply lovely to hear its ticking sound through reverberations made from family and indirect pressures from friends and society at large. Every time a friend would have a baby, and that happened a little too often for my taste especially when the said friend had repeatedly said that they want to live a radically different life and had no interest in having the said baby, anyway, a part of me wondered about doing the same. It was driven part by boredom and part by misdirected hunger. The truth is that I have never, ever, had a desire to procreate, even when I look at lovely precious babies and perfectly behaved children, few as they may be, and the only reason I would have ever considered it would have been curiosity. My husband and I are a gorgeous, healthy couple and we could no doubt produce a ridiculously gorgeous baby or two and impart great wisdom onto the little creatures but is that enough reason? According to our Moms, yes, but according to my heart, ummm, no.
What if you are not restless for the next thing that the ordinary path of life has set aside for you?
I thought I was hungry for friendships. I never came close to replacing my childhood friends and a part of me was sure that I need a good solid circle of friends to fill my heart and calm my restlessness. Besides, friends are the cure to all sadness, and pain, and emptiness, or so everyone says. With all due respect to that theory: WHATEVER! I lost count of how many friendships I pursued over the years and how many times I poured my heart out in hopes of satisfying this hunger. Most of the friends I made were a colossal disappointment. There was nothing in particular wrong with them. It was just that we had so little in common, and I was so tired of fooling myself into believing otherwise and so sick of doing things that left me hungrier than before or saying things that I didn’t really mean. Finally, a few months ago, I decided to give up this ridiculous pretense of having a circle of friends. With the exception of a precious few that hold a place in my heart, I ended both my pursuit and the existing friendships that I no longer cared for. I expected sadness; instead, I was liberated to let go of what I thought I so badly needed. Nearly overnight, I changed my entire approach to friendships and turned my attention back to that hunger and restlessness.
Your greatest regret will be to ignore your hunger and to deny your restlessness a chance.
Many misguided trails and paths later, I finally now get the hunger and foolishness that Steve Jobs was talking about. It was not money. It was not ambition. It was not babies. It was not even friendships. It was not any of that for me.
For me, it was uncovering a purpose so deeply ingrained in my heart that I would have surely starved in the end if I had not started to pursue it with the relentlessness of that same madly hungry tiger.
I am not hungry for a large circle of friends. I am hungry for connecting with other souls and building meaningful relationships even with those I may never meet in this lifetime.
I am not restless for blind ambition. I am restless for true success beyond my wildest imagination.
I am not hungry for riches. I am hungry for massive wealth for myself and others.
I am not restless for taking a trip or two here. I am restless for traveling to such a ridiculous extent that I know every inch of Italy, all Hawaiian islands, and parts the South Pacific and countless other spots on earth like the back of my hand.
I am not hungry for taking a few photos with my new camera. I am hungry for creating jaw-dropping art with light and for capturing the magic of the places that words fail to adequately describe.
And I am not restless for a little self-employment venture here with my blog. I am restless for creating a company and a brand that will bring all my talents and gifts and desires together to shape and re-shape the lives of countless people during my lifetime and beyond it.
So tell me, what is it that you are hungry for?