Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fast, Very Fast

I have been inspired to try something new. Inspiration has come from several sources.

The streets of New York are home an awesome number of people. My interactions with the homeless in New York has been limited. A. and I encountered a couple gentlemen last month. One of them was drunk and puking, the other was adamant that we should call an ambulance. There was a hospital in eye-sight, maybe two blocks away. A week ago I gave undelivered meals-on-heels food to a man named Kevin. He was sitting on Park Avenue asking for money from passers-by. Then there is the scary looking guy that I frequently pass on Smith Street. He scares me because the color around his eyes implies drug use and he is always angry. It is quite unusual for a homeless person to yell "fuck you, bitch" when refused money.

In three separate contexts, I have had the five pillars of Islam laid out before me. One was in church. The other was in a book. The third was from a taxi driver. Of particular interest to me was number four: fasting during Ramadan.

The final source of inspiration is the Christian lent season.

For those that may not have figured it out yet, I am fasting. I'm not subscribing to any particular fasting protocol. My strategy is to not eat during the day. If the sun is up, I haven't been eating. I do allow myself to drink water. I am currently on day three of my fasting exercise.

There were a couple things I hoped to gain from fasting. I have thought about fasting in the past, but never done it. Like many things in my life until recently, it was something that I thought about, but always mapped the actual doing to other people. A big part of doing this fasting now is that it is something that I am doing which will yield direct experience for me.

Speaking of experience, I went into this having some notion of becoming more able to empathize with the hungry people I see around me everyday. This fasting seems to be having that effect. I spend a non-trivial amount of time everyday thinking about being hungry and how that effects my life. More on that later.

The last motivator was that I wanted to participate in a meaningful way in the lent season. I like the idea of doing activities that help me think about my connection to material things.

So here's the list of observations I have made over the last couple days:

  • I do not need very much food to survive
  • I need food to get to that level higher than just surviving
  • I would like to try eating much less food on a daily basis
  • Being hungry adversely affects my ability to think, but it is different than being tired
  • Being hungry affects my ability to run, but not as much as I would have thought
  • Being hungry does not make me tired, in fact, the opposite is likely the case
  • I am very irritable when hungry (but I already knew that)
  • Feed hungry people before you want to get anything out of them
All things considered, I am frankly amazed that I was able to compose this post. I haven't eaten in about twenty hours. Not sure how long I will continue fasting. I am strongly motivated to not let my self imposed hunger adversely affect my personal relationships. Unfortunately, it has already been a negative factor in that game. With that said, I'm going to eat something so that I can be social tonight!

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