[Fasts have long been a part of contemplative tradition. Monastics abstain from food to achieve greater clarity, embodiment, and spiritual vision. They change your physical reality, which in turn affects your emotional and spiritual realities. Indeed, the whole reason we do them is to bring about personal transformation. This series of blog posts—”Beer Fast”—documents the experiences of a pair of Artmonks as they undergo one western monastic fasting practice: consuming nothing but beer and water. With that in mind, these entries are raw, containing a higher-than-usual dose of intimate reflections.]
Today, Day 3, I got up at 6am to get to the office for an early morning my time, late evening in the States Skype call. So I’ve flopped the schedule for working in the morning and studio time in the evening. Liz got up that early too, to drive the clowns to the train station.
We walked out to the car to discover an empty driveway. A phone call later we figure out that Molly got caught up at the office and was headed back to relinquish the car.
Liz and I looked at each other and smiled. “So, is there anything we need to talk about?” We both laughed and marveled that we were so unbothered by this early morning mix up. We decided to credit both of our fasts (Liz is eating normal food and abstaining from alcohol and caffeine.) Molly pulled up and we traded spots with her. As we zipped toward the monastery Liz and I talked about how much we love coffee and how *good* we feel when we don’t drink it. Argh.
Meanwhile, I feel great. Moments of hunger here and there, but generally fully functional. Below are some musings by Charles, regarding both his quitting smoking and the beer fast.
Day 1 (Sat, Apr. 28, 2012) of quitting smoking
AM – Well, I guess everyday is going to be day 1 from now on. The first day of the rest of my life, and all that. I don’t know if I’m just stressed about so many other things right now, or if this is just my nature, but I expected to be a bit more immediately fixated on this thing. Maybe, I’ve forgotten what its like, all those times I’ve tried this before (and failed?). Cigarettes. What a bitch. What a stupid little thing that has become such an enormous energy in my life. Worse, too, by the fact that its a shared addiction between my Molly and me.
PM – This sucks. The only thing I can do that doesn’t feel like shit is to be so focused on something else that I can’t even think about cigarettes. Ironically, I’m so scatter-brained right now. I don’t hurt yet. Well, there’s been a growing pressure in my forehead since this afternoon.
Day 2 of quitting smoking
AM – Feeling generally pissed off at the world. Head feels kinda crappy, though I’m not in really intense pain. Mostly, I can just feel how this constant effort of prohibiting something makes me irritable. I don’t have patience for almost anything, and I don’t really know how to change that. I suppose that I could use one of Molly’s nicotine patches, but for some reason I resist. I feel that if I can just make it past the first week of so, then most of the intense withdrawal stuff will be over and done with, rather than weening away from it with patches over weeks and weeks. I feel like anything I can do to simply get to tomorrow is worth it. Do just about anything. Just don’t smoke. Funny, I can feel urges to put something into my body that makes me feel something. I find myself wanting to drink, in order to have some sort of treat. Seems like it’d be ironic if I became an alcoholic in order to quit smoking cigarettes.
Well, I guess it is still the morning, and I’m always a little more touchy in the AM, but I def feel like I am made of glass right now, just one little touch and I fucking shatter.
Day 11 (May 7) of quitting smoking, Day 1 of beer fast
Today also just so happens to be Day 1 of the beer fast. All the excitement I’d had about the beer fast seems to have completely disappeared. I don’t know if its because the source of the beer was suddenly put into question, thus creating a huge hassle/headache, or because of the preparation I’ve been doing. For the last 5 days, I’ve been on a preparatory diet. I began by simply trying to eat less meat and dairy, and having much more raw fruits and vegetables. Next, I cut out caffeine. This was much harder, or at least painful, than I thought it would be. Finally, for the 2 days, I ingested almost nothing that wasn’t liquid. I made smoothies and soups to feed Betsy, Molly, and myself. Nevertheless, I’ve been feeling fairly shitty for the last few days. One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I’m generally in a great mood, unless I physically feel bad. Life stuff doesn’t tend to get me down in the way that my migraines do. I just get to a point where I don’t feel like there is anything that could possibly feel positive or remotely enjoyable. So, needless to say, I’ve been feeling a bit deflated.
I don’t know if I really processed how it might feel. Maybe, I just wasn’t thinking about the headaches I get. Maybe, I wasn’t thinking about how I’m basically going through some of the most difficult, intense (and foolish?) shit of my life, all at the same time. I can’t believe that I’ve given up cigarettes, caffeine, and food all within a couple days of each other. Its bad/hard enough to do one alone. I’d be lying if I said that I feel great about all my decisions right now. I suppose this is one of those things that you do more for how you feel later than the now. Well, I think these are the things that I do now so that I’m stronger later. I think many people (maybe Betsy, Molly, and the me that I imagined when I said we should do this) have some expectation of being a more or at least differently dynamic being during this time. Right now, I just feel like shit. I feel like giving up already. I can’t say which I want more right now between cigarettes, coffee, and food. Probably food, then cigs, then coffee. At least cigs didn’t come first on that list. That’d be embarrassing, I think. Well, since my head still feels like its in a vice grip, I don’t think I can write any more. I’m going to try my best to keep my outlook bright, despite my desire to either start murdering people or lock myself in a dark closet. Bright… yeah. Oddly (or completely naturally – take your pick) humor has been the saving grace, the only thing that has truly brightened my time. As much as love and tenderness from my Molly and my team has been heartwarming, it hasn’t actually felt like it gave me any extra courage or respite from ever-present emptiness. Comedy is the only thing that has actually taken me out of myself and into a place that felt good. Ironically, we have 3 clowns living with us right now. Still, we’re the funniest ones around. yeah.
See you tomorrow.
1pm – 12oz. Guinness (the one and only) 4.2%
3pm – 12oz. Chimay (Rouge) 7%
5pm – 8oz. Tabachèra (double malt) 9%
8pm – 16oz. Paulaner (Weissbier) 5.5%
At around midnight, to alleviate my migraine illness, I ate 1 sausage and some rice.
11am – 16oz. Paulaner (Weissbier) 5.5%
1pm – 12oz. Guinness (the one and only) 4.2%
4pm – 16oz. Tabachèra (double malt) 9%
7pm – 8oz. Franziskaner (Weissbier) 5%
9pm – 12oz. Grimbergen (Double) 6.5%
11am – 16oz. Franziskaner (Weissbier) 5%
1pm – 12oz. Grimbergen (Double) 6.5%
6pm – 18oz. Wolf 8 (Dark Ale) 8.5%
10pm – 10oz. Grimbergen (Double) 6.5%