My 4-month fast from Diet Coke and clothes shopping to raise awareness and funds for http://www.love146.org ended a few days ago. Now that I have enjoyed both of these things, many thoughts are swirling around my mind. Here are some things people asked throughout and at the end of it:
Did I miss Diet Coke and clothes shopping as much as I might have thought? Not nearly as much. I surprisingly missed the drink more than the shopping, I had got into the habit of grabbing a DC as I ran from uni to work or when I needed a ‘lift’, and this psychological craving did indeed last the 4 months. I sometimes saw clothes that I would have liked to own, but overall, once I got out of the habit of clothes shopping, I didn’t miss it.
What did I do instead (if anything)? I found carrying fresh fruit and a water bottle in my bag gave me the same kind of lift as DC and broke bad habits related to it. I was lucky in the sense that the fast began just as my new life in Canterbury began, so patterns that I had established during my undergrad years did not automatically come with me; this made it easier then to start afresh without these things.
What did this experience teach me?
Not buying clothes was a massive lesson: I rarely shopped out of true necessity (no matter what I told myself), rather I shopped out of habit. Others who fasted from it have said similar things, we had simply got used to spending Saturday afternoon/Thursday night/whenever shopping, shopping when we felt ’emotional’, shopping when an event was coming up (when we still had unworn things in our wardrobes). It was a great lesson to ‘make do’ with the vast amount of clothes I have, finding things I hadn’t worn in months or years, re-working old outfits, etc…
I realise that making the act of giving up these things into a blog post is almost paradoxical to the nature of the fast – that is, to fight human trafficking – as these things are luxuries that I do not need or deserve and did not suffer from giving up. This very thought was constantly in my mind…if I wanted a DC, or took a fancy for a new dress, I was reminded of those who do not have these things, and so much more. What right did I have to ‘drug’ myself and be ‘hooked’ on DC when women are drugged into submission to violating acts? Or how could I have come to expect and accept that it was ok for me to have far too many clothes, that I have chosen, when little girls are given one pair of heels and a skimpy dress that they should never wear and sent out into darkness…
Shamefully, what I enjoyed most when our fasting time was up was the knowledge that I had the ‘freedom’ to enjoy a cold glass of DC or hit the sales after Christmas. Wait…the freedom?! I am a spoiled brat. What about the freedom I take for granted every day…that of waking and living where I like, that of being able to walk around freely and indulge in going for coffee, going shopping, going for a walk, going to a gig, going to see a movie…that of choosing the people I spend time with, that of choosing what to study and which career path to go down, that of sitting here typing in a warm living room with the Christmas lights on and my sister reading a book next to me, of having plans to see family and friends tonight…the list could go for so, so long. Perhaps as you read this, you might take a moment to ponder how different your life could look, so easily. Anyone can become a slave. A frighteningly increasing number of people are becoming enslaved in our neighbourhoods, offering services that have become the furniture of our society.
I am not one of them. You are not either.
It has been an honour to have had a little glimpse, through this fast, of how blessed I am. It is my hope that the money we have raised will serve as a drop of water in the ocean of the fight against slavery. There is so, so much more to do. But this is a start.