Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Holding Fast

So myself and Tony agreed a few weeks ago to try fasting. Nothing super serious, just a liquid diet for 24 hours on the 15th of each month in 2008. For those of you keeping track with that calendar thing at home, that means yesterday was fasting day.

Now, we didn’t decide to fast for religious reasons. Not even really for medical ones. It was mostly just because we hadn’t done so before, and I at least was interested in what it would be like to go a day without my precious and dependable sustenance.

So I came equipped with tea and fruit juice, some health conscious balanced liquid that contained more vitamins and whatnot than was healthy for me to consume in one sitting. And so began the great fast of January 08.

I will spare you the messy details, let’s just say that there’s some planning that needed to go on that I neglected. 1) I love sugar and my body does too. Without it, I started coming down at the end of the day really hard. Probably because I didn’t bother to 2) Sleep. Lots of sleep. Going on 6 hours in the past two days into a fast is a BAD IDEA. I started getting double vision and all sorts of other weird unhealthy things.

However, all in all it was a worthwhile experience. It is so rare that I experience genuine hunger that I forget what it really feels like. Deprivation does breed a certain sense of appreciation. I made myself a turkey and havarti sandwich this morning, on wheat bread with brown mustard. I could have been biting into ambrosia, for all I cared. It was heaven. It was paradise. It was wonderful.

It’s upset my stomach.

I’ve also learned that the less I eat the less I need. The sandwich was a huge monstrosity, well suited to how my mind perceived the pit of my stomach to be. Now I’m full and feeling a little gross. No, a lot gross. So I’m going to go with a light lunch today, so I don’t feel quite so bleh.

But there were other factors of the fast. There are times when your body just forces you to think about food, and you can’t concentrate. That’s at 24 hours. I wonder thinking about a longer fast. We are creatures of intellect and thought and emotion, but the moment we don’t meet the needs of our machinery that takes precedence for a little while, even after a time as small as a day. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs sometimes seems a little silly, but stop getting one of the bottom ones and see how well you worry about the top ones.

I won’t even pretend that I know what it’s like when you CAN’T eat and there’s no way to. My fasting was a choice. But if I felt what I felt and didn’t have the knowledge that I could choose to end it at any time? I would have been in an awful mess. The kind of mess that borders on panic. Because not being able to have something as important as food would be horrible.

But at the same time, I’m reaffirmed of human survivability and adaptability. Sure, you get hungry and sometimes you find it hard to ignore, but it doesn’t end your life. It’s perfectly possible to carry on with day to day activities in a state far from ideal. Why? Because you choose to. Your environmental factors don’t have to be ideal to achieve. I spent my day discussing complex philosophy and my evening on music theory and writing analysis. Because I was hungry, did it negatively affect those things? No. If anything, I threw myself into them more as a means to distract myself from my state of being.

Adversity breeds harder will. I am glad that I only had a day, easy and straightforward, but at the same time I would love to try more sometime. Be left in a place with only liquids for three days. I say left, because if I had a choice I’m sure after three days my resolve would crack. As it should. A man who ignores the needs of his body is a man detached from life. But at the same time, I look at the daily schedule of meals and wonder “why do I bother processing all this? It can’t be that necessary, can it?”

Interesting questions, but those in the end become nutritional ones and I’m not looking at discussing that. Right now I’m nursing a resentful stomach and some new perspectives. And looking forward to next month, where I’m hoping the whole ordeal will be easier (though more tempting, as it’s on a Friday and Friday is my day to go out and have fun). Looking forward to seeing if there’s a compounded interest in doing this semi-regularly.

I guess we’ll just have to see.


nick said...

I dont know about you, but when I qam hungry and cant or dont eat anything, I become very irratible. Maybe thats an odd sensation, but I have always equated good food with happiness. I think I might be addicted to food.

Literary Rock Star said...

It happens. If you do it by choice, it's different. But I can understand being irritable. If your body is off of its norm, you're going to be offset. That's kind of the point.

Also, good food is happy. But there's a certain contentment in that deprivation, too. It's a zen appreciation thing, perhaps. I don't know. Or I'm just sick and twisted. =D

Rayne said...

I have Crohn's disease which means, among other things, my body goes through stages where it hates absolutely everything I eat. If you want to try something fun go on the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and plain tea) for a few days. It is supposed to be soothing to your stomach, but for me it just makes me cranky and craving choclate chip cookies.