September 6, 2018 – Day 1 – Thursday
I’m embarking on a fast for 22 days & 22 nights for clarity in my life and career, in my wife’s life and career, and to break myself before God. I’ve prepared my whole life for this moment—these next twenty-two days—and I feel confident I’ll be able to accomplish the fasting process. But what truths shall I learn? What answers await me? On this Thor’s Day, known as “Thursday,” I don’t know the answers to these questions.
Today I weighed myself as a marking indicator of the physical decline my body is going to take over the designated period and I weighed 215 lbs. I expect to lose 30-50 lbs., maybe less.
Upon waking on this first day the smell of freshly cut tomatoes struck me as sublime and new to me, as though I’ve never smelled a tomato before. No thoughts passed my mind about eating the tomato, or anything for that matter, because I’ve spent the last twenty years, off and on, fasting, so I know what to expect regarding hunger and temptations, at least for the next two weeks since that was my most recent and longest fast of 14 days & 14 nights in December of 2014.
I did, however, consider more about my son, Thor, and his eating habits. Perhaps I’m supposed to become more mindful of those around me?
While watching a television show I came across two types of food I’ve never heard of before: confetti and Morgadinhos de Amêndoa (almond cake).
Confetti, made of almonds, comes in different colors: Green for engagements; Red for graduations; and, White for Weddings. Confetti originated from Ovid’s birthplace in Sulmona, Italy. Whether they “originated” from this rural town, I’m unsure, but the television show interviewed the owner of a 200-year-old confetti factory, passed down from father to son over the generations.
Again I thought of Thor and his future and his sons, my grandsons, how nice it would be—a real accomplishment even—to leave Thor and his sons something lasting, to help them begin instantly with a better life and not to have to fight the shame of poverty and to struggle upwards into success as I’ve had to do over the last forty years.
Yes, my birthday on October 17th will mark the end of my thirty-nine years on this Earth and the beginning of my 40th year—so my twenty-two days of fasting feels like it is a perfect time for me at this point in my life.
The other food was morgadinhos, decorative sweets from Portugal made also of almonds and sweetened eggs and they often come in various shapes and colors, such as roses, pineapples (my favorite fruit), mice or fish. One day I’d like to go to Portugal and try those sweets called morgadinho, though I’m sure my wife, Axton, would love to eat them more than I would.
My wife is the only person who knows that I’m doing a fast for 22 days & 22 nights with only water. On September 7th, she will fast for one day, going to church that Friday night. I’m very proud of her spiritual growth over the last six months.
1 Corinthians 6:19
September 7, 2018 – Day 2 – Friday
Today the first smell that struck me as delightful came from freshly cut capsicum (bell peppers). How could one forget such wonderful smells emanating from cut vegetables and fruits? That was about the only experience and thought I had today concerning food. My wife, however, was able to complete her one-day fast today, and she drank only coffee, tea, and juice.
My twenty-two days of fasting, however, will be with only water, by far the longest and most difficult of fasts since I started twenty years ago when I was but a boy at nineteen years old. Unfortunately, today the diarrhea set in (as it does), which is to be expected because my body is ridding itself of all the toxins. Headaches also began today due to withdrawals of caffeine from the coffee and tea I usually drink as my daily liquid quota when I’m not fasting (I usually never drink water).
Being on a water-only fast compels me to remove from my body all influences that food and liquids may have over my spirit. As for the water, I’m averaging seven liters of water daily (about 1.5 jars of water consisting of 4.5 liters). A little fatigue has set in, but my initial thoughts remain confident and positive that I’ll be able to complete the 22-day fast without any major complications; but even that remains to be seen.
My thoughts, however, continually focus on the spiritual elements of my fast, likely due to my past two decades of training, which has taught me to fast without any inclinations of desire, temptation, or basic cravings (these are to be expected if you’re new to fasting and will be challenges you must overcome if you’re to gain strength and maturity in your fasting experiences). I’ve learned to ignore these “impulses of the flesh” during my longer fasts, but I do recognize that for the last several years (since my last fast in 2014 which was for 14 days & 14 nights) that I’ve indulged in eating whatever I deeply desired, but with moderation, of course.
For the time being I’m attempting to conserve my energy (as much as possible) but know that it will be difficult to do so because of my two-year-old son, Thor, and I worry about his reactions. Regardless, I’ll do my best as a father and a husband to give my utmost time, attention, and energy to the ones I love and adore.
Because I do realize the seriousness and mortal threat a fast can bring over such an extended period, much like the one I’ve chosen, it doesn’t help to know that Gandhi’s longest fasts were only twenty-one days with only water with lemon juice mixed in. The luxury of even having lemon juice in the water greatly appeals to me, but for now I must forgo everything but water. I’m even using new toothbrushes that are brand new (I began using these new toothbrushes on Day 1) and I’m not even using toothpaste, but only water to brush my teeth for the next three weeks.
What will this do to my taste buds over the next twenty-two days? Having only tasted water, shall I enjoy the smallest of tastes, like lemon juice in water or my 100-year-old Chinese tea again? I don’t know. I’m sure someone knows through science, but my fast is a spiritual challenge—to teach me what science cannot.
September 8, 2018 – Day 3 – Saturday
Physically, the headaches from the caffeine withdrawals began today and the diarrhea continued to dispel the last remnants of solid waste from my body, and once that process is complete I’ll feel much better, cleaner and lighter. The difficult part of my day was the physical exertion used to play with Thor, my two-year-old son. Regardless, he was a delight and we had fun playing at the playground next to our home in Discovery Bay.
My wife did say to me that my smell has improved and that I no longer have bad breath when I sleep near her. So, my insides evidently are becoming cleansed. My thoughts, however, were becoming slower as the day progressed, and I found it difficult to remember a few things (like what action I’d planned on doing five to ten minutes in the immediate future).
I did conclude that fame and fortune (relating to my writing career) really doesn’t matter to me—as long as I’m able to spend my life with my wife, Axton, and our son, Thor, I’d have peace and joy in my heart. Family is certainly worth living for.
September 9, 2018 – Day 4 – Sunday
Today I considered how at the end of my twenty-two days (of only water) I’d go about breaking my fast, and on that morning I’d break (or end) the fast by having communion (a little red wine* with crackers) and prayers; the wine* representing the blood of Jesus and the white, salted crackers representing Christ’s broken flesh, having died on the cross for our sins.
Today I did begin to feel the skin on my hands and face begin to tighten, and I’ve realized my sense of smell has heightened over the last four days, which is likely an effect of my body seeking sustenance because of survival instincts. Stay alive, no matter what, and I’ll find a way.
At the end of this Sun’s Day, I feel blessed to have such a beautiful and lovely and supporting wife who is with me every step of the way on this spiritual journey, which reinvigorates my spiritual essence of being and becoming.
*Note: I broke my fast with a glass of cold V8 juice (not red wine) and crackers on the Friday morning of September 28, 2018. My stomach rejected even the thought of wine as much as it came to reject water in the end days of my fast.
September 10, 2018 – Day 5 – Monday
Today I accompanied my wife to work by catamaran ferry; then after dropping her off and going our separate ways, I journeyed on the underground rail (in Hong Kong called the MTR) and before the train departed I was standing to the side of the train-car and saw several people walking down the connected train-cars looking for a better seat when one of them happened to be a quite obese man in his early twenties wearing a T-shirt reading “Remember Nature” and I instantly felt God through the Universe sending me a subtle message.
A few seconds after that insight, as the obese young man was walking past me, the train-car lurched forward causing the obese young man to fall into me (who was without food for several days and growing thinner) and the obese man said, “Sorry. Sorry.” I replied, “No worry. No worry. It’s okay.” And it was fine, but that unexpected touch reaffirmed, for me at least, that the message was real. So, later I drank some bottled, sparkling water and glacier water straight from the source, and felt a pleasant sensation from the chilled sparkling water and I had no negative physical reaction from the water found at the source of natural springs.
Later I also noticed the birds and trees more alive than I could remember since I’ve come to Hong Kong, where natural things (like the birds and trees) often appear dull and lacking in vitality, but today a sharpness rested in their outlines and form, and I enjoyed a pleasant ferry ride on the outside upper deck overlooking the boats on the harbor surrounded by green mountains and islands.
During the ferry ride I felt God testing me (as He sometimes likes to do to us mere mortals) by impressing upon me to get on my knees. I hesitated but relinquished by dropping to my knees in front of my seat and pretended to look for a view out the open window. Again, after several minutes I felt once again compelled to drop to my knees. This time after the ferry had docked and I was alone at the top of the boat. This had nothing to do with physical weakness but more to do with spiritual compliance, even if it seems absurd or embarrassing. But when you are in the presence of holiness one tends to drop to one’s knees.
Tips for fasting: Make time for prayer; spiritual breathing (exhale the impure and inhale the pure); drink as much water as you like; limit physical activities; expect to pee a lot while on a water only fast; take the fasting process seriously, because fasting can be deadly.
September 11, 2018 – Day 6 – Tuesday
In the Greek “confess” means “to say along with” or “to agree with” or “to speak the same thing” or “to assent, to accord.”
Fasting can be, in its raw essence, a form of confession, an act of confessing; breaking the body to “confess” to God that the spirit, the soul, the spiritual essence of being is celestial, immortal, never-ending, eternal, and one with God.
I’ve come to see that with most people we live to seek perfection: Whether it’s a perfect job and career, a perfect house and home, that perfect experience (likely by the beach on that perfect sunny day), that perfect sunrise or sunset, that perfect vehicle, car or yacht, a perfect diet, a perfect body, the perfect lifestyle, a perfect spiritual balance and harmony, or a perfect life—however you wish to define this idea.
But perfection doesn’t exist because even perfection can have its flaws and mistakes. Plan on a city tour, take a wrong turn, curse with frustration at being late and lost, find yourself suddenly at a sea-view spot on a cliff, and those words just might come rising out of you: “This is perfect!”
Perfection exists in the imperfection.
Day six—on this particular Twī’s Day or Tȳr’s Day, named for the god of single combat—was so far the hardest physically and emotionally and having to control myself during a day the United States and the world will never forget (a Tuesday morning—like this Tuesday morning—where I’d found myself taking a bunch of orphans to school and I was driving back in the white van with the windows down after having worked all night and I’d felt drained and tired and I had thought how peaceful the day was starting and how I had my French lessons to get to at Howard Payne University later that morning), and I’m also reminded that the tragic event that hit and shook the United States of America was also on a Tuesday, like today, but seventeen short years ago.
September 12, 2018 – Day 7 – Wednesday
We belong to the stars. We live in the flesh but exist in the supernatural. The concrete-like body which holds us in place can be a gift if we use it in the right way, through hard discernment, and it can also become a curse held to addictions, lusts, and excess we often foolishly believe we cannot overcome.
Life becomes simpler when fasting on only water: I no longer care (no penchant) for the internet or social media (often becoming repulsed by the very thought of going online as if I was forced to swallow fish oil for some undiagnosed ailment), and I take pleasure and delight in the small and simple and positive (not the big and complex and negative), and often on my daily walks at night when it’s most comfortable and cool after sundown and the mountains and beach remain lit in faint shimmering shadows, I enjoy that single moment as though I were sitting on a bench next to the bay waiting for the ferry to bring me the love of my life, and so often the ferry does. And that’s when I think: We belong to the stars.
September 13, 2018 – Day 8 – Thursday
Sleeplessness has set in for the last few days, and although I nap daily these naps consist less of sleep and more of resting with my eyes closed in bed and thinking about major events in my life (which is exactly what one does in the throes of boredom).
I recalled one of my favorite childhood winters when I was but a toddler clinging to my wooden crutches with a cast on my clubfoot and a horse-brown corduroy coat on as I hobbled out over the snow in our little hometown neighborhood where my Uncle Gary and Aunt Cindy had brought for us that Christmas (or was it Thanksgiving?) a Shetland pony, and how all the children from the neighborhood came out in groves, by the dozens, to see, to pet, to ride old Smokey. And how my mother asked if I wanted to ride the pony and I declined and told her how I wanted the other kids to have a chance, because I knew they might not have another chance to ride old Smokey.
Those were the good times, the American times I wish to give my own son one day. Though I was crippled during my early childhood, crutching over the snow that day with a smile on my face for all the joy in the cold air, I had such a time with such a lost pleasure and remarkable fondness that rarely have I found a childhood event to compare with the simplicity and genuine nature of being unable to ride old Smokey but feeling warmth in watching all the other little boys and girls have such a glorious day in the snow in the middle of an average neighborhood riding a Shetland pony with great beaming smiles on their poor faces as I watched on while leaning atop my wooden crutches. All were my friends on that day.
Memories and thoughts. Of childhood. Links to my youth.
September 14, 2018 – Day 9 – Friday
In the first seven days (first week of three) I drank a total of forty-five liters of water, but as the days progress I’m drinking much less water each day, and this is not surprising because my stomach is shrinking. There have been noticeable weight loss and I find water completely boring, and I can see why most fasts over twenty days are often done with various liquids, such as fruit and vegetable juices. Each day drags on and on and time appears to have bowed, knelt, slowed to a crawl, and my minutes become my thoughts. Frigga’s Day, the Venus, ends. An end.
Will I end?
September 15, 2018 – Day 10 – Saturday
The weekends are a welcomed blessing because I’m able to pass the day and my thoughts with my gorgeous wife and lovely son. Usually I’m cooking for my wife (but this doesn’t bother me in the least) and our home is cozy and warm and resembles our genuine love.
My wife is binge-watching Friends on Netflix for the second time and laughter helps our journeys and struggles, because it’s becoming more difficult to take longer walks for extended amounts of time. Life, the important parts anyway, is in the small moments we choose to make with the ones around us and with the ones we love. There’s nothing bigger. There’s nothing more special. There’s nothing else like family.
September 16, 2018 – Day 11 – Sunday
Super Typhoon Mangkhut, the most powerful hurricane to hit Hong Kong, struck today and showed why it was the biggest, most destructive typhoon to thrash Hong Kong in recorded history. My family and I are safe, though the livingroom slightly flooded from the torrents of rain that pounded down for over ten hours, and the wind gales didn’t let up until well after ten at night. Hong Kong has never seen a storm like this, and my wife also said she’d never seen anything like this typhoon before.
The power of the Holy Spirit? Who can stand against the wrath of God?
September 17, 2018 – Day 12 – Monday
When you are without food, the memories closely associated with smells, foods, and meals come gliding back with sharp details, as though you were reliving those special moments.
One of those moments for me came roughly twenty-two years ago when I summered at my older sister’s loft in Arlington (near Dallas), Texas. We’d smoke Mary Jane, pot, reefer, cannabis, Texas tea, grass, weed, chronic, dope, boom, ganga, herb, marijuana (call it what you will) in a water bong at around 8:30 at night on her nights off from work, and afterwards we’d take a drive in her white Jeep Cherokee. We’d smoke Marlboro cigarettes while she drove us to Sonic Drive-In, just next door to her apartment complex. We ordered cherry limeades to quench the cotton mouth and we’d sit and listen to Pearl Jam on the radio and we’d talk until she directed us to get some food. Next, we’d either go to Jack in the Box or Taco Bueno, and shortly afterwards getting take-away, we’d return to the loft around 9:30-9:45 at night.
In the low light of the room, she’d load the bowl with delicious smelling red-haired marijuana and the water bong would pass between us as the room filled with sweet smoke so sacrosanct we dared not move because we believed we had entered a holy and private sanctum. We’d smoke from the water bong while watching Seinfeld begin with Jerry’s stand-up comedy which introduced the sitcom at 10 p.m., which was my first experience of the television show (around 1995), and with the bong smoke lingering in the air with its easing and relaxing qualities filling the low light of the room my sister and I would sit on the floor around the coffee table and eat our take-away. I’d eat my supreme nachos (“Mucho Nachos”) and burritos and watch Kramer bang through Jerry’s door, and I was happy to be in that moment with my big sister, laughing.
I’ll admit that for me that moment with my big sister, usually night after night during that long-lost summer, will always hold a special place in my heart, and when I die, I pray some small piece of my soul lives on in that moment in a small sanctum of Heaven which begins with a door opening again to that loft with my sister waiting with a water bong in her hands. She’d be young again, and so would I, and she’d smile and laugh and ask what kept me, and we’d sit on the floor and smoke and eat and be together again, laughing.
September 18, 2018 – Day 13 – Tuesday
Each day is one day closer to my fulfillment. Today marks the “climax”, the “hump,” of the journey I’ve been on and soon the days will become a countdown. But I’ve learned, long ago as a young man in my early twenties, to enjoy the small, specific moments that fasts can bring if you’re willing to slow down and pay attention.
Why don’t more people fast? Slow to a halt? Breathe with such precision that when sunlight dapples on the ceiling it becomes a pleasure inspired from a simple joy as watching the sunlight create playful shadows.
Yom Kippur begins.
September 19, 2018 – Day 14 – Wednesday
On this Odin’s Day or Woden’s Day, the Universe keeps sending me signals about how memory and foods (or meals) connect and hold a special place in our lives; and yet much of American literature (with few exceptions) exempt foods and meals from the story and plot of novels.
Proust, who was a French novelist, did touch on this connection in his massive book called In Search of Lost Time, and Hemingway was a master storyteller at using food in its raw simplicity. I can still recall those ham and onion sandwiches while fishing by a river in the countryside of Spain. Why not use this technique more in literature?
Yom Kippur ends.
September 20, 2018 – Day 15 – Thursday
It’s hard to explain but my dreams grow stronger and more vivid, and I feel my body is a thin veil—Joseph Campbell’s masks—covering something magical and powerful within. I woke in the morning and had to stop and check the bed to be certain my body hadn’t remained behind beneath the covers.
Yes, I’m more tired after two weeks of only water and no solids, and I do try to rest at least 2-3 times during the day—usually once in mid-morning, once in mid-afternoon, and once in early evening—and this scene usually has me lying on the bed with my eyes closed and unable to fall into a deep, restful sleep, as though I’m lying on my grave unable and unwilling to die. Perhaps for thirty minutes I slip into a peaceful, light slumber of REM that all my thoughts and weaknesses are forgotten; and then, I wake as though rising from beneath the deep, dark ocean and instantly become aware that I’m still alive.
1 Corinthians 2:11
Today marks the countdown to zero.
After today, I have only seven days left of fasting. Then it will be a new day and October will soon come along with a slow recovery. October: the month I was born in long ago in 1979.
What or who was I before that time? Who was I before this time?
September 21, 2018 – Day 16 – Friday
The days grow increasingly harder. After two weeks, water has become repulsive (an unexpected turn of events), as though water was a form of poison trying to kill me, to do me harm, rather than to sustain my life. Regardless, I must carry on with my fast and drink as much water as I can. I feel the flesh around my bones shrinking and tightening, and people (when I go outside to take a short walk) immediately notice I have lost a considerable amount of weight and that I look extremely different.
Is this healthy? Starvation—for any reason—can never be healthy. But what does my spirit say to this? Excelsior!
September 22, 2018 – Day 17 – Saturday
Saturn’s Day and the weekend bring me joy and I am filled with determination to continue my fast with only water. I am happy and at peace because I can spend time—what little time I have left—with my wife and my son, strong reminders of what life is truly about, reminders for me why I live and why I continue onward.
My wife has mentioned to me (as I have also noticed) that she and our son are eating much less since I started my fast. I have noticed this as well. We are tied and belong as one unit, one construct, one family intertwined. Is there a connection? Is this a mere coincidence?
September 23, 2018 – Day 18 – Sunday
Simple acts, even writing in this journal, have become difficult and exhausting tasks. I’ll try to write more tomorrow. I persist.
Now I spend time with my wife and my son.
September 24, 2018 – Day 19 – Monday
On this Moon’s Day, my stomach has shrunk even more, and it starts to betray me, recoiling on every little drop of water I consume, so much so that I can drink only small amounts of water per day or risk upsetting my physical constitution. The water causes me aches and pain in the abdomen region, and at times I want to vomit. But there’s nothing to vomit.
In addition, when I take walks, people feel and appear to me like thin sheets of who they really are and who they are meant to be, thin sheets of a reality set in the concrete planes of existence and struggle, concrete bodies told how to behave and how to act and how to respond, and these thin-shadowy veils of human existence move daily without awareness of their individual-cosmic energy possessed deep within their concrete frames of mobility, unaware that their greatest asset holds their full potential, oblivious that such a power exists within themselves.
Ghosts. Shadows. Zombies. Blind. Asleep. The Un-Awake. Shades and silhouettes. Flimsy sheets of paper. I ask: What is real?
September 25, 2018 – Day 20 – Tuesday
With what all I have seen and witnessed and felt—speaking about empirical evidence—I have not written down for you. Some secrets will be left for me alone. You have your own adventures and journeys that will teach you and guide you on your own paths of self-discovery.
Writing, as much as one can make it true, is filtered and broken into tiny pieces. Life is far too complex and complicated to be expressed and impressed into small words meant for communication and understanding. We can try, but embracing Writing means at some point we must embrace Failure.
Over the last twenty days, I’ve learned things most men and women will never come to learn for themselves, and I’ve learned more about myself, about my family, about my career, about my friends, about strangers, about Life, about the Universe, and in time I’ll be able to make more sense of it all. Even now I cannot say I completely comprehend everything I’ve learned over the last two-and-a-half weeks.
Who could? Who can?
September 26, 2018 – Day 21 – Wednesday
Twenty-one days. That was the longest Gandhi ever fasted with water and lemon juice.
For me, in the last few days, I’ve learned what it means to suffer and to be without pleasure. To be without. I’ve wanted to vomit, but there’s nothing in my stomach. Empty. Complete emptiness. Raw and void.
I force myself to the brink of death. Facing myself in Death’s hand-held mirror. Of Truth. Of Mortality. Face-to-face. Unafraid.
I drink as much water as I can. Mostly sips. Water makes me want to vomit. Disgusting. I’m drinking very little water each day. Maybe twelve ounces or less. Dangerous. Deadly.
Even my daily shower in the morning has become laborious. Strained. Intensive. And the task leaves me weaker than before I showered.
What mortal would choose to punish one’s self with starvation? With fasting?
I have my personal reasons, but that doesn’t make my journey, my path, any easier.
The world around you unfolds—Space & Time unraveling, uncoiling—one petal at a time until the core of all things is revealed to you; and you then, I dare say, won’t be ready.
September 27, 2018 – Day 22 – Thursday
The last day.
If there’s one revelation I can bring to you, I hope you’ll have discovered by now the power of the human and spiritual will and how the human mind can have complete control over the physical body. The spirit has far more power and strength and determination and focus than you could ever imagine, but most people are never willing to try, to test the limits of their own existence, to become someone more than what they were one month ago, to walk a path that leads to a cottage on a mountaintop and knock on the old wooden door to have it open and see Death telling you ever-so-kindly that he can always be found but for you to go away, “It’s not your time. Not today.”
Most people settle too much into routine and forget how exotic and foreign Life can be.
For me this was the hardest physical act I’ve ever done and for the last three days I’ve been in excruciating pain, feeling as though toxins were pouring into my body, as though my body betrayed me. Many times, I wanted to give up, but I refused to quit and chose rather to become stronger, to become more than who I currently was at the time. We should not do things because they are easy. We should do things because they are hard.
I know no one will care about what I’ve done, and that’s fine. I didn’t do what I did for the last twenty-two days to impress anyone. I did it only to challenge myself, to see and touch my limits, to find and face Death on my own principles and on my own terms, to make myself stronger while keeping a simple record along the way, and to break myself in ways most people never think possible.
I weighed myself at the beginning of my fast with only water and I weighed 215 lbs.
I weighed myself at the end of my fast and I now weigh 190 lbs.
I lost 25 lbs. over the course of three weeks. Weight loss was never a motivating factor for me, but it does provide me with data, an indicator to measure the changes in my own body as I suffered.
All I can do now is pray that each one of you gives thanks to Life, to your life, though you may hate it, detest your circumstances, feeling hopeless, finding life challenging at times.
Guess what? Life is meant to be challenging. One big test. You’ll either conquer or be conquered.
And I hope you give thanks to those you love, your loved ones, family and friends, and to give thanks above all to God.
I found the ends of myself and I’m not sure I’m ever going to be the same. I’m uncertain if I’ll ever be able to explain everything I experienced over the last twenty-two days.
It is finished.
CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), and a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU. He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.
He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), and forthcoming: Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being; Little Hometown, America: A Look Back; A Time to Forget in East Berlin; and, The Endless Endeavor of Excellence.