Stay foolish and stay hungry. Steve Jobs
I love being hungry. On long hikes, the ones that last all day, in the afternoon, after the picnic lunch and the snacks and the water have run dry, after we’ve climbed up that mountain and are heading back down again, I love to think about food. It’s when I sense that growl beginning to form, that the fantasies spring to the surface. I envision the meal waiting for me, the one I’m going to prepare or the one I’m going to order. In vivid detail, I taste its flavors and I revel in my hunger. And, if my hiking partner is willing to play along, I fantasize out loud. I love reminiscing to another who is also hungry about the amazing meals I’ve eaten. It’s especially fun to bring back to life the meals I’ve feasted upon on trips. On recent hikes, the ones that have lasted long enough for my stomach to growl, I’ve been thinking of Sicily and Rome.
In May, Cam and I crossed the Atlantic for a two-week adventure to springtime in Italy. And after a long winter of snow and cold-biting air in the Upper Peninsula, the sunshine and the smell of jasmine and stephanotis and the ocean breeze and the hikes and the Italian language and the people’s warmth, it was all intoxicating. But the food – the homemade breads and freshly-pressed olive oils, the ricotta cheese, the pasta and pizza and arugala salads, the fish from the sea and the baby artichokes roasted until tender, the food was fit for the gods. It was one wonderful meal after another. In the evenings, at the end of a day of exploring the ancient ruins or hiking Sicily’s cliff-bound coast, we would come back to a dinner so delicious and satisfying that we thought we would never be hungry again. But it would happen, every time it would happen, that the next morning we would wake up with that familiar growl, hungry for the next meal, for the next moment, for the next adventure.
I love being hungry and it’s not just food that I hunger for. Two and a half weeks ago, when the trees were blazing in colors more vibrant than I can ever remember, I didn’t think it could get any better. I would walk in the woods, maybe, in the mist and the clouds and the cool breezes of late September, and I would round a bend to a blazing crimson maple and I would gasp in pleasure. As my friend, Amber, said, “It was fireworks in slow motion.” I savored it as much as I savored the fresh pasta of Sicily. It was delicious, this September meal. And then, on a Thursday, the winds moved in, the wild winds of autumn, and they scattered those crimson leaves and they blew down some mighty trees, and the meal was over. And by the weekend, the sun, it had broken through the clouds and a new meal had appeared. Those winds had blown in a warm spell, a week and a half of the most gorgeous seventy degree weather, an extended summer stretching into mid-October – and there I was hungry again. For a while, I couldn’t get enough of it. It was wonderful, those days of flip flops and sundresses and afternoons writing on the rocks, those full-moon evenings that were soft and sweet and full of song. And what could be better than this?!?
But we’re alive and there’s always another meal, and even the heat started seeming uncanny. And again the winds blew through and again the weather changed, and, this Saturday, on a blustery morning with the waves of Superior crashing the shore and the surfers in their wet suits catching those waves, I found myself once again hungry for something new. It was the winter squashes and the brussel sprouts and the root vegetables that caught my eye at the farmer’s market. It was the scarf and the heavy sweatshirt and the fleece-lined boots that appealed to me. Even before I knew that Downwind Sports was having a ski sale, I found myself fantasizing, my stomach growling for the groomed cross country ski trails of late autumn in the Upper Peninsula.
In his 2005 Commencement Speech to Stanford graduates, Steve Jobs challenges his audience to stay hungry, to look in the mirror each morning and ask yourself if you are living your passion, if you are feeling excited about the day stretched out before you. I am taking on his challenge. How rich it is to enjoy the meal we’re eating, to love the moment we’re living, and how rich it is to feel the pangs of a new hunger, of something fresh and alive being awakened inside. And so, as I start this day and this week and this new kind of autumn, the late autumn in the U.P. that spits snow one minute and breaks through in a sunny smile the next, I’m asking myself what I’m hungry for? And today, I’m hungry to feel the power of those waves, the ones the surfers are riding, for a jaunt along the bike path, a hot cup of tea. What are you hungry for?