In the late 80s, U2 released “Joshua Tree”, including the single “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. The lyrics of that song have always spoken to me. Like most powerful poetry, they mean something different to each listener. To me, the song speaks about a longing I feel for spiritual connection and intimacy that is not fulfilled by simply knowing what I believe (“You broke the bonds, and you loosed the chains, carried the cross of my shame…you know I believe it…but I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”).
In “You on a Diet”, I have finally reached the chapters on psychological and emotional factors associated with being overweight – after learning more than a person really wants to know about stomach fat. There is a whole section titled “The Role of the Soul”. Drs. Oz and Roizen say that soul-level satisfaction exists at a biochemical level as well as in our perceptible lives. It is “your deeper drive…to fill the needs of your soul.” They go on to say, “Many of us, instead of addressing – or even acknowledging – this deeper longing and the restlessness we feel for never quite fulfilling it, try to fill the emptiness with food and drink.” We long for something deeper, and when we can’t find it, we eat.
Thinking in terms of spiritual hunger puts a whole new spin on the obesity epidemic here in the U.S. And it makes sense to me — increasingly, we live in a culture that suggests we should find happiness living at the surface. If we feel longing, that can be easily assuaged…buy a $350 Marc Jacobs purse, or order the buttered steak served on deep fried onion strings with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a chocolate volcano cake for dessert.
On a personal level, maybe its true that I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. But I may just be learning to stop covering that longing up with an overfull stomach. The good doctors suggest a number of things we can do – other than eating – to satisfy our souls. They include spending time in reflection and self-exploration, deep breathing, being touched (which releases neurochemicals that make us feel better). The Docs recommend massages for that purpose. I can finally stop feeling (a little) guilty about the self-indulgence of my pedicures. They come with leg and foot massages that feed my soul!