This was no game.
It was 4:00 pm when I hit rock bottom. The first day of my yoga fast. In truth, I could eat fruit so it wasn't a total fast but there was no caffeine, cooked or processed food, sugar, starch, dairy, etc. I had been exuberant that morning as I ate my strawberries with kiwi, but without any coffee or my afternoon cookie I suddenly became some Unitarian Universalist version of the hulk. It was ugly.
I was cranky and angry, what my friend calls "hangry" (anger from hunger).
I had begun this fast as part of a 40 day yoga program to help me realign and center. But in that one hour window from 4:00-5:00 pm I questioned everything I was doing. Fruit and water? For four days? Can woman live by fruit alone?!
I sent myself home for the day. I clearly couldn't work like this.
After laying down for an hour, I woke up anew. For the next few days, I felt grateful for every meal. It wasn't easy, but that was the point.
So much in my life often goes smoothly, easy even. I have few real sacrifices I have to make. Sure, there are plenty of things I might not feel like doing (the laundry is among them). Yet, there are few sacrifices I have to make. I've never had to give up a meal to feed my children. I've never had to risk my life for a member of my family. I've never had to work 12 hours a day in dangerous conditions so I could bring a small share of bread home to my family. Most days I am not even aware of how my food got to my table. I couldn't tell you the name of the laborers or factory workers, farmers or truck drivers who make something as simple as my garden salad possible.
Now, do I hang my head in overpowering guilt?
No, because this would not be terribly useful. Feeling bad for the ease of my life also isn't the point of sacrifice. I fast, sacrifice, to remind me of the blessing and the responsibility. I fast to connect my life to others; for a day to be conscious of all that happens for that "simple" salad. I fast to ground again in gratitude. I fast to be called forward to create a world where no one has to give up a meal to feed their children.
How? I don't know entirely. But I am led by the hunger.