Figuratively, we’re all a little fat.
We’re well-fed, content, and a little lazy. We don’t want to have to worry about hunger, and so we’ve created a society that protects us from that. Our fear reminds us of what it once felt like to be hungry, and so we go out of our way to create jobs, trust-funds, savings, strategies and solutions that ensure we won’t have to be hungry.
It’s kind of the way of life that exists in the west. And it’s also what our fear demands we do. When hungry, our fear tells us we won’t ever eat again, and that’s a crappy feeling, so we set about resolving that issue. We create storage for food, and when storing food ceases to be enough to assuage our fear, we start to purchase and collect totems that represent safety and security that we will not lose out. Those totems tend to be unique to the individual, and can come in many forms: shoes, clothes, drugs, alcohol, muscle on your body, promotions at work, accolades, favours, doing good in the world, etc.
I collected many totems — winning squash tournaments, collecting likes and shares of blogs I wrote about the video games I was trying to excel in. Nice clothes (do I really need 12 different suits? No, no I do not).
The totems aren’t necessarily bad things to collect. The problem is that the way of being underneath all that collecting is a function of trying to ensure we don’t have to go hungry.
This isn’t a post about shaming people for being fat (whether it is physical, spiritual, or energetic), and it’s not a post about privilege. This is a post about how we lose our vitality.
I have noticed a lot of men coming into my practice that are living in the experience of having lost their vitality.
They have created beautiful kingdoms — wealth, abundance, friends, vacations, etc. They don’t have to worry about much in their lives.
And they are listless and flaccid.
They wonder why life feels dull — what is it that seems to be missing, and where has that gone? They are feeling calm, but also calmed. Stilled.
These men find themselves acting out bad habits, and scolding themselves for doing so. We wonder why we are reaching for alcohol or other substances, affairs, bigger toys, more TV, something, ANYTHING to stimulate ourselves back to the way they remember feeling.
For a long while, marijuana was the panacea for me. An opportunity to experience the thrill and vitality of life, without ever having to risk fear and hunger. Why lean out over the edge into risk when I could savour the sweet, sweet taste of dried toast (“Wow, such texture! Such rich flavour!”). Lawyers spend their entire lives managing and minimizing risk, and the profession has an enormous substance abuse problem. There are many theories on why this is — mine is that these are people craving to feel alive again.
All of this energy goes into seeking out vitality, and it’s all done inside an unwillingness to put ourselves at risk. To allow ourselves to be hungry.
Our vitality is connected with our hunger. When we replace a willingness to go hungry with an insistence that we never have to feel that way again (even if it’s only done on a subconscious level), we take away much of our ability to stand in the face of danger. We lose our ferocity. We lose the experience of ourselves that comes from being in the practice of commitment, and doing whatever is required to make our lives happen.
We start to lose the sense that we can survive and create in the face of whatever the world provides us. Instead, that is replaced with a needy clutching for that which we already have, and a desire to not have it fall away.
Men (and those committed to embodying the masculine energy) — cultivate your hunger. Be willing to go without food, whatever kind of metaphoric food it is that you find yourself hoarding. Discover the ferocity that lies within. In order to walk in partnership with the beast within, you must be willing to allow it to come forward.
Cultivate your hunger.