For the past 7 days I have been participating in a 10 day challenge to give up all beverages except for water. That means no coffee, no milk, no orange juice, no iced tea, etc. Several colleges around the country are participating and the goal is to donate whatever money you would have spent on non-water beverages to build water wells in Rwanda. The purpose behind the fast is to recognize how much we take water for granted and to raise money for a good cause. Instead, I have realized how much I take Diet Coke for granted and have been counting down the days till I can once again taste the lovely bubbly beverage.
All week I have been traveling with reusable water bottle in tow, carrying it like it was a ball and chain, a constant reminder of my sentence of a whole 10 days of deprivation. I have probably complained at least twice a day, cursing all beverage advertisements, snarling at the soda fountain in the cafeteria, and accusing waiters of cruelty when they ask, “what would you like to drink?” Around 2PM every day I prepare myself for my daily Diet Coke fix only to drag my feet down the hall to refill my water bottle again. Sometimes I find myself staring at my glass of water (with an added lemon because I’m that pathetic) and I actually consider myself deprived. What’s perhaps worse is that I seek sympathy from others for my penance–and I actually get it.
Is this really happening to me? Am I actually complaining that I have to do without soda for a mere 10 days? Am I really upset that I have to drink water as if I don’t have the luxury of drinking it all the time whenever I want, as if it’s not a requirement to live? Nearing the end of my fast I look back and realize that should have also tried to give up complaining for 10 days. I wonder how well that would have gone.
In just a few days I’ll be going back to my daily Diet Coke ritual and I’d like to think that I’ve learned something valuable. Although I’ve been complaining and have often felt that the world was out to tempt me, I have learned that I definitely take for granted that I have the opportunity on a daily basis to choose what I want to drink and I get to choose from hundreds of options, hot or cold, brewed or mixed, bubbly or flat. And when I get tired of all of those choices I still can drink hundreds of different types of water: cold or hot, brewed or mixed, with added flavors or enriched with minerals, straight from the tap or from the Everglades. And for that I am truly thankful.