I am fasting today.
But I should clarify so that you are not unduly impressed. I am consuming nothing but water, tea, and rye bread with coriander seeds. And only until 3pm. Modifications must be made when you are breastfeeding, to ensure your milk supply doesn’t diminish. And I make those modifications gladly, as I have never been one to skip a meal.
I’m not sure why I am fasting, except that the urge gripped me yesterday, and strangely, I had missed it while being pregnant and breastfeeding. So I sketched up this plan in my head: use the rye bread I baked yesterday, and make it holy by making it singular, by making it the one thing.
Purity of heart is to will one thing, said Kierkegaard.
For an entire year, that phrase rang soundly in the hollow of my bones, sung itself repeatedly in my brain. I am not sure why- I just remember reading the book (an old copy that every day disintegrated in my hands) on the train that took me to work, the snow falling coolly outside. Snow is cold, I know, but this snow was also austere, also soul-chilling. That winter, the whole earth and her people seemed frozen with indifference. I had just graduated college, but had one independent study class left to take, an upper level logic class that was required for my philosophy degree. So I no longer hurried to school to discuss and debate with other warm-blooded humans. Instead, I worked. At a specialty food store about an hour away, helping designer-clad adults and hipster college students find the perfect bar of artisan chocolate. There was nothing wrong with the job, except it was like all my jobs: not enough. Not writing, not philosophy, not art, not enough. I could bear it, and even gladly. But I always felt like a traitor to some future self who would look back and regret all things but creation (creation being the one true thing).
Things are more comfortable now. My husband has a good job. I still work just a few hours every morning- not ideal, of course, because the rest of the day is consumed with tasks, and my sweet and wild daughter gives me not a moment’s peace. But I count my blessings. Who can afford to create these days anyway? Focused time is our most coveted resource, our fastest-dwindling asset.
I have to remember that as I fast, as I feed this need to be totally devoted to one true thing (let that thing be creation, let some miracle give me time).