I’ve been craving grapefruit for the past 48 hours. To be clear, I haven’t been thinking about grapefruit. I’ve been tasting its tang on my tongue. I’ve been feeling its little pockets of juice burst when I bite. I’ve been smelling its sharply sweet citrus so intensely that I half expected to find one magically waiting next to my laptop. That is a craving. It’s not a thought. It’s not a rational want or need. Rather it’s visceral. The primal union of a need and a want.
In the US, when we talk about cravings, our minds usually land on diet rhetoric fraught with terms like “curb your sugar craving.” Through that paradigm, we have collectively come to understand cravings as illicit thoughts that we must find a way to control. If there was ever a nod to our puritanical roots, it’s our attitudes toward and very definition of craving. We’ve put craving in a metaphoric corset and told her to sit down and shut up. We’ve given practicality precedence. And we’ve relegated cravings to chocolate (actually the iron in chocolate) when we have our periods.
Well, Loves, I don’t like chocolate. So I started considering my cravings, which strayed far from the norm. I started distinguishing between wanting (a thought) and craving (a sensual experience). Here’s what I’ve learned: Wants come and go. They can be forgotten. Cravings are persistent. They will not let you forget them until they’re sated. Wants emerge from a lack of something. Cravings emerge from a desire for something. They point us towards fullness. The purpose of cravings is not simply pleasure or play or satisfaction. A craving invites us to expand our capacity. When we answer our cravings we find ourselves transforming into the most powerful, lush versions of ourselves. We find ourselves ready, even hungry, for more in our lives.
When we start listening to our cravings, they demand a new kind of listening. Cravings are primal. They require us to remember ancient ways of listening. We need to metaphorically put our ears to the ground and wait for the distant vibration of footsteps. We need to pause, not just for a breath, but for the whiff of longing our breath might carry. Because cravings arrive in subtlety. They’re melted into the layers beneath our thoughts, beneath our skin. However, don’t mistake their subtlety for impotence or simplicity. Cravings are sensual. They’ll take us over, if we let them out of their cages.
They can turn you into a huntress, bent on feeding all her hungers. They can turn you into a creatrix, laser focused on making and birthing. They can turn you into a seductress, brimming with sovereignty and softness. Cravings are the flame in the dark leading you back to your inner fire.
So let me ask you: What are you craving?