“The stuff passed right through you, even when you were full or sick, leaving more holes, a hunger. Of course the show would go on.”
-Nafissa Thompson-Spires, “The Subject of Consumption,” Heads of the Colored People
Sometimes I eat and I’m still hungry, and sometimes I eat when I’m not hungry at all. My brother’s Rabbi says, ‘If you grew up in America, there’s something at least a little twisted in your relationship with food.” I wonder if it goes past food. I wonder if it goes into hunger, into wanting, into what nourishes us–and what doesn’t, no matter how we try.
Thompson-Spires takes a family obsessed with strict dietary rules and puts them side-by-side with a filmmaker who wants to stop making reality TV–although, by the end, we know he won’t. He won’t walk away, or escape, or do whatever else a change would require. Of course the show will go on, with all its reenacted arguments and carefully lit emotional pain. Then we (the viewers) will swallow that experience down, as though there’s something to digest in it, as though it will make us less hungry, and the show will pass right through. Turns out the hole inside isn’t filled by that kind of thing. So then he–and we–will reach out to watch more.
Some things really do feed me: friends, birdsong, the sound of water, working for what I care about. Some things don’t, no matter how much I pretend : games on my phone, the search to feel superior, more rest when I’m already rested. As a high school teacher, I worked day after day among people who wanted so much to connect with each other, and I watched them go by, day after day, trying to drink in that connection from a source that did not have it. I don’t think that’s particular to high school. I think lots of us go hungry, even when we eat. Thompson-Spires says we’re eating the wrong things.
So: what feeds you? What do you eat that actually nourishes your days? And in your life, do you want to steer towards the want of hunger, or towards the presence of health?