I’ve decided to commit to a water-only fast for as long as I can, but I am aiming for a week to start. I’ve fasted before, but never beyond 5 days and never without juice, tea or broth. So that I set about doing this from a conscious place, I decided to write down why this fast is important to me. First and foremost, a fast for me is a personal choice to step back for a moment and to bring mindfulness to a specific purpose through personal sacrifice. I don’t think fasting always has to be publicized. It can be a very intimate, sacred opportunity to reflect. It gives our bodies a rest from constant digestion. It gives our emotions a chance to filter upwards from where we might unknowingly stuff them with unconscious eating. It allows our minds space for new wisdom to arise when we invite more time into our normal schedules of eat, work, eat, work, eat…. Physically I also feel refreshed by a fast when I can detoxify all those naughty things I like to eat and drink and start over again with some thoughtfulness to the food I buy, grow, cook and enjoy.
But this fast is more than personal and should be public. I am committing to fast to try to break down the disconnect that separates us in the West from those suffering in Darfur. To remind myself and hopefully others around me that a million people are now or soon will be without food and water since the aid communities have been expelled from Darfur. It is about recognizing and honoring that we have choice – that we can choose to eat just as we can choose to vote and choose to act. (Non-action is also a choice.) It is about feeling the interconnectedness of all people, allowing my friend Adam Mussa who has been living over 5 years in a Darfur refugee camp, to stay on my mind and help guide me to find compassion and inspiration daily. And it is about being a part of a collective movement to continue to pressure those in a position of power to intervene to end this crisis.
There are also some things that this fast is not, and I have to remind myself of this. It is not an ego-driven competition to see how long I can persist – it is not about me and my will-power (or possible lack thereof). It is not about collapsing into guilt because of my privilege, but it is finding the wisest way to leverage my unique place in the world to create change. It is not about PR for the sake of publicity or shame, but it is about consciously raising awareness and inviting dialogue that can be constructively channeled into action.
So with these thoughts, I am standing in solidarity with those in Darfur and those in other corners of the world who have joined the Darfur Fast For Life.