21 day water fast: day 1

And so the journey begins.  In a way, it began last night with the end of dinner, the end of eating.  A strange feeling: the idea of three weeks without food.  It seems like such a long time that I can’t really grasp what it means, how it feels, and how I’ll feel.  I don’t worry about not eating – it’s more that the idea of a 21-day water fast draws a complete blank in my mind.  A blank so expansive and huge that the concept of time itself becomes lost in it.

What’ll I do for those three weeks, alone, in complete solitude in the country?

Not eat.

Well that’s obvious.  But what am I actually going to do?  21 days is a long time.

Maybe that’s the part of the problem.  By trying to find things to do, a part of me is attempting to justify dropping out of everyday life for three weeks.  Otherwise, how irresponsible – especially when you have work and a family!  Surely I should be doing something productive instead!  You can hardly call fasting ‘productive!’

What I’d really like to do, though, is to try and just be as much as possible.

I didn’t make a good start of it, though.  After arriving here, I spent the next 7-8 hours putting together a new sofa-bed and then constructing some shelves.  Well, it had to be done.  After dragging in the boxes from the car, I spent nearly three hours assembling it.  A feeling of pressure ended up building in my head – perhaps from too much bending over to screw things together, along with not eating and some crazy weather fronts.  Afterwards, I went outside to sit in the garden.  As the pressure subsided, as I sat there doing nothing, I found myself returning to the same thought again – the same thought which has dominated the day, ever since saying goodbye to the kids at school and then to Réka.

I don’t feel worthy to leave life and the responsibilities of family to come here ‘on holiday’ for three weeks.

I know it’s not a holiday, but something in me doesn’t feel comfortable about it.  After the constant go-go-go of driving here and then immediately building the sofa-bed, the first feeling I experienced was something closest to melancholy, as I walked out into the garden – that of being alone.  Something existential?  Hard to say, but the feeling was familiar, similar to when I was younger – when the feeling of isolation and Weltschmerz frequently haunted me.  I sat down and it took a while for me to relax.  Then, slowly, I dropped into just watching the clouds, the greenery, hearing the sounds around me.  And then the thought returned: that I don’t deserve to be here.

On all my previous fasts, I’ve done it at home without shirking any responsibilities or taking time off.  I’ve even cooked for the kids as usual.  Perhaps that was my way of justifying each fast.  But now I’m on retreat.  I’ve stepped out of everyday life.

No matter how you look at it, a 21-day water fast is definitely not everyday life.

I’m glad that Réka kicked me out of the house and forced me to leave.  I know she supports me, so what’s the problem?  It must be in myself.  I begin to suspect that all the odd jobs I’ve brought with me here are likewise veiled attempts to justify my fast here.

It started to rain, and so I went inside to build the shelves.  It wasn’t on the original battle plan for today, but while I was sitting outside I realised that the only way for me to begin to be into this fast is first to get done what needs to be done.  Sofa-bed and shelves are essential.  I need a place to sleep, and I need the shelves in order to rearrange the house so there’s actually room on the floor.  All the other jobs around the house while I’m here can wait.  Rather than doing the shelves tomorrow and thus preventing myself from being again, I decided it would be better to have a killer day today and get it all done now.

The pressure began to build in my head again.  Nevertheless, shelves done, mission accomplished.

It’s late now.  Time to switch off now, literally and figuratively.

Physically fine, just a few stomach rumbles from time to time.  It didn’t provoke sweet visions of food.  I’ve done too many fasts for that to happen any more.  It’s just something physical going on inside my body.

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