For 2024, I wanted to approach the year in a new way that would challenge my comforts and dependencies, gain perspective and compel me to write more, so I am embarking on a project I’m calling, “The 12 Abstinences”.
Each month, I will abstain from one thing that I typically enjoy, consume or rely on in some fashion. One of the first seeds for this project was planted sometime last year when I said, “well, anyone can give up anything for a month…”.
But, can I?
Although I do expect this endeavor to test my willpower, I am not very worried that I can’t give up something for a month. Nothing on my list will threaten my health or survival. If anything, I might worry for my sanity for certain months. I rely on some of these things for comfort, some of them for dopamine, some of them for escape and some of them I simply take for granted.
My desire is to enter 2025 with a better understanding of myself, my body, my diet and my consumption.
Another motivator is to be writing more and this project provides a nice structure. The monthly turnover is a good reminder to translate thoughts into words. Each month, I’d like to express why that month’s abstinence is important to me, share some anecdotes about my relationship with it, and review my experience living without it. I’ll also be exploring a writing style I’ve dallied with in the past that I think will be healthy for me. I’d like to give egress to that negative inner voice that is always trying to keep me from any kind of challenge, discomfort or growth. I have spent my adult life keeping that voice out of my mouth. That voice will appear from time to time with counterpoints or debates around a topic. Fair warning, that voice can be unpleasant.
The truth hurts, pal. What can I say?
In fact that voice is rather opposed to this whole project and offers a valid argument:
This whole thing is an exercise in privilege. This is a self-centered pageant celebrating the opulence of your life. You can give up these things and then, when you choose, you can go back to them. You have that luxury… that surplus of choice. A BILLION people live on less than $1 a day, sleep on the floor, do NOT own a car, a bike, a TV, a smart phone, and would eat everything I am giving up if they could. So why would you flaunt your freedom and abstain?
It’s a good point. And I confess… I do have the luxury and freedom to do something like this. But I’m still convinced I should try and gain perspective. I hope that this exercise would lead me to a better understanding of my privilege and compel me to live a more humble, cognizant lifestyle.
This post is part preface, part proclamation, part invitation. Feel free to follow along, either by “following” me here or by watching my IG for new “12A” posts.
Dude, anyone still reading this is just waiting for the list. What are you giving up?
I was just getting to that. Calm down.
I haven’t determined the order, and some of these may change, but here is the current list of Abstinences:
I’m starting in January with Meat. It’s one of the “easiest” things to abstain from and I wanted a gentle challenge to start. We eat meat sparingly in our household, but I’m the biggest carnivore in the house. Anna is mostly vegetarian, so she’s accustomed to cooking dishes with alternate proteins and is a creative, healthy cook, so I’m not worried. I’ll post separately about Meat sometime soon.
Thank you for reading this far! I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with you in some way.