Hear now my prayer, you Graces three. For in your gift are all our mortal joys, and every sweet thing, be it wisdom, beauty, or glory, that makes rich the soul of man.
— Pindar, Olympian Ode 14. (Greek lyric 5th century B.C.E.)
At this time of the year, many cultures clear space for new growth and the Graces’ blessings by choosing to renounce various habits, pleasures or comforts. This may be through the practice of fasting, which is simply the abstinence from eating particular or all foods, for a specified time.
As I’ve discussed, food fasting gives the digestive system a rest, so that the body can use its own complex systems to cleanse the toxins and other materials that accumulate from our regular dietary habits. During this period, we may experience side-effects that are somewhat uncomfortable, including hunger, headaches (caffeine withdrawal is notorious for this), and various other symptoms that come from our body working to re-balance itself.
Other kinds of fasting, though, are also worth considering, and for many of the same reasons. Many people find it important to take occasional media fasts, during which they withdraw from the media messages that bombard us day and night.
Yes, I know that most of you reading this are not TV junkies, and are very judicious with your choices of media exposure (which is why I am especially honored that you are visiting here). You are probably well aware of some of the corrosive effects of our culture’s obsession with commercialism. But it is very hard to escape, and so over the next several days, we’ll explore the benefits and challenges of how to go about retreating from the overload, and turn instead to Graceland.