"Are you hungry enough?"
That's what my mum just asked in an email. I hate questions like that, and I hate answering them even more because the answer is never going to be pretty. I like pretty things. Problems that have only one solution and ends that tie themselves up nicely. Stories that neglect to mention the awkward parts. The part where you're not sure if the life you've chosen is the one you want. The part where you're not sure how to live without offending anyone else. What you do when you realise that the only problem with your so called dreams is that you're a dreamer? And what you do when you realise that as you your world isn't what you thought it was. It isn't some small one tracked and one sided thing. It is vast. There is space. There is space for everything, but at the same time there's space for nothing. The awareness of space only makes you aware of how much space there actually is.
Where do you go from here? Up, sideways, down, left, right? Maybe you stay where you are and look up, sideways, down, left, right. But you know that staying is bad. You can't stagnate. You should be moving somewhere, anywhere. You should be living and learning and growing. It doesn't really matter if down is where you're headed or left is where you're drifting, because left and down, our two least favourite directions, may be where you need to go before you go up.
Attached to the email was a brilliant article by Akwaeke Emezi about her experience at Chimamanda's Farafina workshop. She'd crowd sourced funds so that she could pay for her flight ticket to Nigeria.
"Are you hungry enough?"
The question rings again, only this time it's would you crowd source funds so that you could afford to go to a workshop half the world away. No. I would die of shame. It isn't who I am. I'm not celebrating my snobbery. I don't think that it's a good thing to spite your face for the sake of a pimple, but it's true. I was not raised that way. I wasn't raised to seek the future on my own. I was raised to entrust it to daddy after prior consultation with mummy. The question is unfair.
But at the end of it the question remains, "are you hungry enough?" It's what I'll ask myself when I don't email introductions to the blog to everyone that I meet. It's what I'll ask myself when I sleep. It's what I'll ask myself while I dance. It's what I'll ask myself with every word I write. I'll cripple myself while I think about whether or not every decision that I make reflects my hunger; my burning passion; unquenchable, unrelenting, unquestionable. It's what you'd ask a horse that you thought would win the Kentucky Derby. And at the end of it, that's exactly what I am; a horse. Only that I'm not a very good one. Even the talent that is praised is sacrificed at the altar of propriety.
Everyday I'll think, would it not have been better if I was a banker, or a lawyer? Would it not be better for everyone if I was something other than what I am; something other than who I am? I'll look to the heavens and pray, not for forgiveness, or for favour, but that someone else could be put in my body. Someone with the chops to answer the question about hunger that I'm meant to be asking myself.
Let's imagine that I was hungry in the way that the question implies.
"You're not an orphan." They would say.
"You're meant to take advantage of everything around you!"
"You're meant to use our name, our wealth."
"You're meant to use your good fortune that you were not born poor."
"From today, I have nothing to do with you. You're my son in only name."
I'll pale. I'll shake. I'll worry. And then I'll ask myself if it is my hunger that is lacking and then I'll equate my hunger to my lack of internet blown-upness.
The one thing I don't do enough is turn the question on it's head. If someone only presents a problem without the solution then what good are they actually doing you? Of course you'll know that there's a problem - Thank God! Your inadequacy will make your heart explode with profound delight!
I don't say, "Is it because I listen to you that you think that I'm not hungry?"
I don't say, "Is it because my hunger has not been a good enough reason to sacrifice you along with everything else?"
There comes a time when you realise that you'll never be enough; that you'll always be wrong. I'm not there. Not by a long shot. I didn't ask to be born. If you'd asked me beforehand, I'd have told you to save us both the strife. Now I must contend with the fact that I'm not Akwaeke enough or that I haven't embraced a support system that loathes the thing it's supporting.
Are you hungry enough?
It's funny the things you find in your drafts. This one has been sitting pretty for over a year.