One of the nice things about aging is that you become more and more able to hear your body when it talks to you. And one of the oft-ignored messages it sends is "hey! I need a break". Mine has been telling me this for several months actually. But like I said - "oft-ignored."
So today my body is getting its way and I will give it a break from the constant grind of digesting and absorbing all of the various substances I ingest. Today I fast.
Fasting is a paradox of sorts. After all, nothing is easier than to not eat; you just don't do it. Yet at the same time - nothing is more difficult. I mean, eating is almost as automatic as breathing. In-fact, many times we eat without even being aware that we're doing so. We call it munching. You know, when you're mentally occupied with another task, but simultaneously, without thinking about it, continue to reach into a bag of chips (or whatever) and then put them into your mouth. It's akin to slouching in a chair while watching TV. You do it without even being aware that you're doing it.
So while fasting could not be simpler, it also requires a great deal of conscious attention and effort. And therein lies one of its chief benefits. It requires focus. And living, as we do, in an age of distraction, focus is becoming something of a lost art. A skill that requires training so as not to evaporate and become lost. And it seems that anything we do that enhances this skill is beneficial since it is required to achieve any goal we pursue in life.
Of course, one of the reasons focus is so difficult a skill to master is that it too has a prerequisite; discipline. The word itself seems to connote submission to something unpleasant. When I hear that word I often think of the swats with a paddle we used to receive in junior high-school when we misbehaved. You'd have to bend-over and grab your ankles while the hefty gym teacher swung a big wooden paddle against your butt - several times. They called it "discipline".
So it really doesn't help to know that focus requires - gulp - discipline. And not just discipline in the abstract, but the most extreme form of such; self-discipline. That's right; you have to do it to yourself. No wonder it's becoming so rare.
But when I stop eating for a day or two I notice several things happening to me that are extremely pleasant. I begin to think more clearly. I begin to feel lighter, less tense. And I find it much easier to feel - well - me. I enter this mental state in which I'm just more aware of my own self; my mind and body more in-tune. And the more this state develops, the more I realize that it is itself a form of consumption; a meal of sorts. And a very delicious one.
So today I will not eat. And in not doing so I will feast on one of my favorite things. Me.