Hello there. It’s Wednesday, October 5th, 2022. It’s also Yom Kippur, “the Day of Atonement”, the highest of the Jewish High Holy Days. It’s a day on which observant Jews fast—from food, water, sexual relations, and other such things—and usually go to synagogue and take part in communal prayers relating to…well, to atonement, such as for the things that one has done wrong over the course of the prior year, and so on.
I’m no expert, and obviously I’m not observant, or else I wouldn’t be writing this post while going to work on this Wednesday morning. However, I do like the fasting process, though I am not actually a religious believer of any kind, at least not in any sense that most people would use the terms. I find that fasting every year on this day is a nice way of psychologically (or mentally, or spiritually, however you like to characterize it) cleansing oneself a bit.
It’s a separation from the immediate satisfactions of such carnal desires as the one for food that is so easy to indulge in the modern world, and which can by used by those with chronic mood disorders and similar problems as a source of tiny and transient comfort or relative joy in a world otherwise defined by unpleasantness. This indulgence, however, as with most such things, has negative long-term consequences when it is done for pleasure/escape (however fleeting) rather than for its biological purpose.
So, it’s good to break that cycle sometimes. I’m not going without liquids, because I was already out sick yesterday with a gastrointestinal bug, and I don’t want to leave myself dehydrated or volume depleted, but I’m only too happy to have a strong reason to go without food. No one at the office is going to try to push food on me if they think I’m avoiding it for quasi-religious reasons.
Without such reasons, people are annoyingly pushy about trying to get other people to eat, even when the other people make no secret of the fact that they are troubled by their weight. It’s almost as if there were recovering alcoholics in the office (there are, sometimes) and people kept offering them drinks…or tried to slip Percocet to recovering opiate addicts. It’s frankly unconscionable, and the people who do it ought to be ashamed of themselves, but they seem actually to puff up their egos by offering food. It’s madness, it’s reprehensible, and it’s disgusting. If you are reading this, please don’t do it, ever.
With that out of the way, I think I’m going to extend this fast a bit. I’ve done that before, just a few years ago…I had done the full fast on the day proper, including liquids*, though I’d had to go to work, which was fine, since it wasn’t as though I had a temple to visit or was a member of any community. But I extended the fast because it cleared my mind a bit, and I felt more at ease with myself. In fact, when I broke it, after about three days (I think), I was actually disappointed.
But, of course, it’s hard to resist the eating drive. For Yom Kippur, the one day fast, there is a strong enough religious, or social, or communal, or “spiritual” impetus if you wish, to push past it, and then, once one has pushed past it, it’s easier to continue. One has already cleared the activation energy, now one just has to let the reaction continue.
So, this year, I’m hoping to continue the fast for a longer time. Longer than one day, hopefully longer than three days. I would like to keep it up long enough to reset completely some of my habits regarding food, so that when (or if) I restart, I’ll be able to approach eating simply as a necessity, not as a pleasure. It would be particularly nice if I could achieve some manner of “spiritual” equanimity, but that may be an impossible dream for me.
I’m also hoping that, by making the announcement here, in my blog, I’ll have the added social impetus—to which I’m only very weakly susceptible at the best of times—to keep me pushing forward. It’ll also give me something to write about.
Another nice thing about fasting is that it will save me money, and that’s always nice. I’ve banked a great many calories in my abdominal fat, exchanging money for centripetal adiposity, and I’d like to reverse that process at least to some degree.
Hopefully, as has supposedly been the case with many a seeker after internal peace, the process of fasting will help me clear my chaotic and cluttered and extremely unpleasant mind somewhat. Also, hopefully with some lost weight, my back and hips and knees and ankles, and even the rest of me, will have less pain. My understanding of physics and physiology, which is well above average, suggests to me that this will probably be the case.
So, in case there’s any use to it, please wish me luck. And if you are Jewish, and are celebrating Yom Kippur, so to speak, “May you be inscribed, for Good, in the Book of Life”.
*Abstaining from sex seems to happen all on its own, weirdly enough. Ha ha.