“GYAARRGH,” I yelled. “How do they expect people to work under these conditions? It’s stupid! This is insane!”
A slice of Upper Crust pizza appeared in my hand – spinach, mozzarella, feta, garlic, no sauce. I ate it in about two bites. Then I ate another, slowly.
“Huh,” I mumbled through a full mouth. “Actually, this shouldn’t be too hard. Let me just check some numbers and get back to you …”
Despite living with myself for nearly twenty-eight years, I still get amazed at how much little things affect my mood. Hunger’s high on that list. If I’m really hungry, I start snapping instead of speaking. My face defaults into a frown rather than a neutral state. I judge everything put before me in the most critical terms possible. No one’s moving fast enough or sitting quietly enough for my taste.
This isn’t shocking, of course. No one operates well when they’re hungry, or tired, or itching all over. I bring it up, however, for two reasons:
- I usually ignore the symptoms of hunger – up to a point. I don’t like taking time out of my day to eat. Walking to the kitchen and spending ten minutes preparing a sandwich? To hell with that. You know how much work I could do in ten minutes? My body takes the hint and represses its hunger pangs, quietly leeching protein and glucose from backup stores (my arms, my brain, etc) until I become a feverish ghoul.
- As a recovering hard rationalist, I still hold the output of my brain in very high regard. I’m fascinated by what comes out of my brain. I trust my brain. Up until the point where I can’t, anyway.
The problem: I’m just as certain of the judgments I make when I’m hungry as I am of the judgments I make when full. Hell, I’m usually more certain – once I skip one meal and the second comes late, it’s all dire pronouncements from the ivory tower. When I’m hungry, the people around me are idiots. When I’m not hungry, the people around me are human beings with different agendas.
If the judgments I make when I’m hungry are false, what makes the judgments I make when I’m not hungry true? What makes my full stomach the “correct” baseline, objectively speaking?
I can’t always trust what I’m thinking. For most people, that’s a fact to acknowledge and plan around (“I should probably bring a snack, in case we don’t eat for a while”). For me, that’s deeply disturbing.
“I’m human after all” sounds like one of those realizations I should have come to as a teenager. Add that to “sometimes you hurt people, even with the best intentions” and “the audacity of your dreams is no guarantee of your success.” One of these days I might actually grow up.