Waking up day three. The first thing on my mind is food. Usually I would flip on NPR, make coffee, start notes for the day, plan out the ideas I had for work. Usually my mind begins working from the time I open my eyes. But not today.
Instead I’m am thinking about the empty feeling in my abdomen and wondering if it is going to be with me all day. Feeling hunger reminds me that this is just an experiment. That I, at any time, have access to the best foods available. That this feeling is really a choice, all-be-it one I am trying to make to enable me to understand the urban poor for whom I work for every day. And because it is a choice I want to take notice of the feelings that are missing.
You see, those who experience hunger on a regular basis also have a very high degree of stress. In addition there are usually dental problems, and health issues; often times diabetes, heart disease, obesity are bedfellows with hunger. My two weeks of this challenge is devoid of these issues. Along with many others. I’m not experiencing cold, or the threat of losing my home, nor am I having to take care of a family.
There are other factors that I am feeling, quite authentically. My concentration is down, and I can’t seem to form and hold thoughts as well as I normally do. In addition, while speaking at a meeting yesterday I found that I was lacking proper verbiage and sounded far far less knowledgeable than I had hoped. I am also tired, and a little moody. I snapped at a friend last night, which is outside of my normal behavior.
Like Jan-Michael, I am feeling the changes in my social life. I’ve not gone to events that I thought were important, because I don’t feel that I can afford them. My weekly dinner with a friend on Tuesday was a struggle for me to keep. Had it not been a moment where he needed a friend and his turn to pay, I may not have gone. Fundraisers, events and dinners with friends usually fill a few of my evenings and while I sit in my cozy apartment in a lovely neighborhood in the city, feeling sorry for myself is the farthest thing from my mind.
To me, this experiment isn’t just about feeling hunger and understanding how difficult it is to live as so many of my neighbors do, it is about understanding that the issue of food access is deeper than just a meal, the longing someone feels isn’t who they are. I am able to track changes in my mental stamina after only a couple days of fewer calories. What do you suppose is going on in the minds and bodies of people who live like this daily, for years?